I have had many changes occur in the last five months, which include, but are not limited to a new house, a new town, a new job in education, a new subject to teach, a new kindergartner, and a new outlook on the future. Looking back beyond that five months, I am also adapting to the fact that we are living in a new state. My husband, and our then 4 ½ year old, packed up and moved from Nashville, TN (where our home had been for 10 years) and drove a gigantic U-Haul truck to North Carolina to be closer to family. We knew it was the right decision. The Lord had spoken with clear, timely, effective signs that this was our next great leap.
Early into our transition, I found myself in a tumultuous professional environment. It was a battle I was not properly armed for spiritually, mentally, or physically. Everything I had always done in being myself was seemingly faltering. Being me was not giving the same reflection as it had in other mirrors of my professional career. I stumbled. I ugly cried. I sought refuge in carbs and can’t statements. As in any test of our human understanding, patience, and faith, I was unable to see the purpose of my valley-like season while neck deep in its mud. I took a leap. I was obedient. I thought I was walking in favor. To find myself stripped of confidence and under such stress was quite an unwelcome turn of events.
During that time professionally, I waivered in my joy, which on any given day is usually on the fuller side of the cup. The thing about stress is that it weakens your stamina. Exercise and sunshine would do me a world of good. Sure. And yet, Netflix, Ben & Jerry’s, and a cozy blanket won the argument. Stress affects how you respond to every scenario you face. I came home one day so frustrated at my situation that I grabbed a pillow and threw it across the room all the while telling said pillow that it was uncomfortable and stupid. When you get mad at inanimate objects, it’s time to reevaluate.
I can say truthfully that the Lord never stopped guiding me…the Holy Spirit never stopped whispering to me. I did not feel abandoned. My spiritual eyes and ears, however, were not working to their full capacity. I did my best to prevail and seek wisdom. I attempted to pull out every ray of sunshine from my optimistic arsenal and tried to rely on what I knew best…loving on other people. I was determined to love others as deeply as possible and not focus on how I was feeling.
Once I settled in to the realization that my current situation didn’t define my overall currency, I started to regain the truth. I was of great value. I had value as a professional, as a friend, and as a lover of Jesus who had a light to shine to those who need Him.
My storm was purposeful. It was not punishment. I know that now. I did not know that then. I still have occasional splinters that poke and pierce from my shipwreck season, but as I look back, I became better at navigating rough waters, found friendships through the pathway traveled, and allowed myself to be a shining beacon as best I could. I beat myself up about how little I felt my light was being shone. The wonderful thing about light is that it makes a difference whether it flickers like a fading match or beams like a spotlight. I was light. Maybe not always bright. But, I was light.
At the height of my tempest, I made sure to talk and be transparent with trustworthy people in my life who would listen, guide, and love on me. I took notes at church, looked up scriptures, posted positive affirmations on my desk and cabinets. I put worship music on repeat and became proactive in changing my situation. I listened to my daughter sing silly songs and took pleasure in her happiness. I allowed my husband to give me pep talks and be mad on my behalf because he wanted better for me. I invited my mother-in-law to blanket me with love-soaked truth bombs about my worth, my purpose, and my creativity. And, probably the most significant thing I did was align myself with a verse in Exodus. As it came across my phone one day, it was one of those slap-you-in-the-face scriptures.
Exodus 14:14 states, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
I submitted to the Lord. I gave him the situation.
By late spring, I found myself hired for a new job…a different job…an answer-to-prayer job. We were getting settled into our house and learning our town. I was finding myself again. I asked the Lord to help me learn from the past year. I asked Him to guide me to be the best version of myself. I asked Him to help me lean to the side of appreciative and productive. Since I can often err on the side of perfectionism and over-achievement, I also asked Him to ease my task-oriented mind.
As I was cleaning my soon-to-be work space, I found myself overwhelmed. I was afraid. What if some of the same things happen here? What if I still feel like a washed-out version of Farrell? What if I don’t do a good job? What if I don’t meet expectations? What if being me is not good enough? What if being me is not going to be the key I need to open doors? And then, the Holy Spirit intervened. I found myself saying three simple phrases aloud.
LOWER GEAR. DEEP BREATH. GRATEFUL HEART.
No other refrain could be more applicable and I received it. I wrote it down. I speak it daily. I am slowing down and focusing on what is in front of me and doing it to the best of my ability. I am inhaling and exhaling with intentionality. I am speaking aloud my gratefulness for God’s provisions. Let it also be known that I am allowing myself grace to have tough days…bad days. But, I find myself looking through a lens that shows me how to better hone in on what the Lord has done and is doing.
The poet and writer, Maya Angelou, wrote, “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen it before.” I have that written down near my desk amidst my other personal notes to self. I implore you to join me as I put every effort forth to welcome each day with gears in check, breathing controlled, and thankfulness overflowing.