I recently opened a box of keepsakes my mom was holding onto. A huge part of my freedom journey has been overcoming the performance cycle – striving, increasing productivity, proving myself through accomplishments. Based on my treasures in this keepsake box, I’ve been this way for a long time.
I’ve always been a dreamer – my parents were in business for themselves so I grew up on personal growth and development and I was drinking the kool-aid! I had dreams and goals on paper since before I was 10 years old. I’ve always loved the hope and anticipation that came with setting goals and having dreams… They were something to look forward to.
Dreams put on a shelf.
I put dreams of being a singer and a teacher (two VERY different career paths, I know..) on the back burner and decided to go get my degree in International Business because:
1. Being a successful businesswoman had an awesome ring to it and in all honesty, anything science related was not my forte.
2. I loved learning about different cultures and traveling, so Duh, why not make it International Business? Bless my little 18-year-old heart, as we say in the South.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s thinking this was IT – my golden ticket to all of my hopes and dreams. I’d wear my Limited suits and fancy pumps and carry my laptop bag and latte around the cities of the world! Yep….
Here I am at 34, never having used said degree, sitting in leopard loungewear from the Walmart clearance rack… drinking a coffee at 9:00pm, because it is one of the only times I can drink it all the way through without reheating in the microwave #momlife.
So let’s go back a little bit.… After college, I took a job at the office where my mom worked. It did not deal with that golden ticket degree and soon I was introduced to the world of direct sales. There it was – my ticket to all I had dreamed of. I jumped in and within about a year and I half, I became a full time entrepreneur. I LOVED it. The never-ending amount of human interaction and connection, the recognition, the chase, the success stories… I couldn’t get enough! While I am forever grateful for the great treasure and growth through this experience, I also took on some unhealthy mindsets. Here are some examples:
What was said: “My commission check is a report card of lives being changed.”
What I heard and believed: “I am not making ‘x’ amount, therefore I am not making a big enough difference in the lives of others.”
Mindset: I believed my self-worth was determined by the impact I made which could only be measured monetarily.
What was said:” Work hard now, so you don’t have to work hard later. Today, not tomorrow! If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen. If not, you’ll make excuses.
What I heard: Strive! Strive! Strive! You’re not at the end yet, so you have to keep striving.
*This led to not knowing when to shut off and enjoy where I was on the way to where I was going. I often missed out on just relishing the moments with those I was ironically striving to have more time with one day.
Mindset: My efforts were never going to be enough!
What was said: You should do this and prove yourself to so and so! Be a somebody.
What I heard: Wait! I’m not already a somebody? I need to level up to measure up, and even beyond how others view me.
Mindset: My value was based on how others viewed me!
I constantly felt like time was scarce….slipping right through my fingertips and I was desperate to catch up to where I “needed to be”! It was exhausting. In a nutshell, my career, or rather how impactful I was with it, became my identity….
The J word.
With these old mindsets that I let build a home within my soul, I started to partner with a new one that actually hurt my heart to say aloud, leaving me confused and frustrated. You see, fast-forward 10 years: that business I loved so much came to an abrupt halt. I was four weeks postpartum with my second baby, when I found out that the company’s doors were closing!
I felt lost….
This was the thing that I was good at. What was I possibly going to contribute to others’ lives and to my family now? After working in a few different companies, I felt really impressed that I just needed to remove myself from it all for a while. I wanted to heal and start to understand my identity outside of a career. So when I was no longer receiving a paycheck for anything and people asked “What do you do?”, I often found myself inserting the j word into my identity.
“Oh, I am just a mom. Just a wife. I just stay at home.”
Every time I spoke those words this bit of shame and embarrassment washed over me – like I was going backwards in life in terms of career, finances, etc. It was interesting because I never viewed any of my stay at home mom friends in this light – I actually admired that lifestyle and opportunity! I just felt like I was supposed to DO more, because those were the lenses and expectations through which I was seeing.
Good thing vs. God thing.
As I was pressing into this with God, I truly sensed His invitation to rest… to cease striving. I sensed permission to stop the pursuit of figuring out my purpose through a career and just BE! I felt Him ease my mind that, despite the message I felt that the world was screaming, I actually don’t have to partner with scarcity of time. No more rushing… No more having to figure out my next step! He reminded me that every door I have walked through at this point, to this date, He has perfectly placed in my life. It is so freeing to say no for a season and trust that He will open the doors for new dreams in due time…
One thing I have learned through this freedom journey is just because something is a good thing, doesn’t always mean it’s God’s thing for me and/or not His thing for me in this particular season. I used to twist the verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” believing I needed to “suck it up buttercup” and do ALL the things! With time, I have learned that doesn’t literally mean doing ALL the things ALL the time. I truly am NOT created to do it ALL and what’s even sweeter is, He doesn’t expect me to.
The Bible tells us that there is a season for everything …
Specifically in the Message Translation it says there is
“A right time to to destroy and another to construct”
“A right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another time to let go”.
I wanted to be a good homemaker keeping up my house, cooking all the meals… and homeschooling my kids… and nurturing two kids through extracurricular activities… and investing time in several friendships… and taking the blogging courses… and taking the coaching courses… and taking the guitar lessons… and brushing up on my Spanish… and writing that book… and singing in some form or fashion… and making that impact through some type of career… and and and…
Being honest, selfishly I thought this year would be the season when I would get to do more of the things I wanted to, as my son would be starting Kindergarten… More time for Mom, right? Two days before school was to start, we felt the pull to withdraw him from public school and to homeschool instead. If I want to get comical, I guess I can say that teacher dream came to fruition!
But… this wasn’t my plan.
I never thought I would be a homeschool mom. As I looked at the world around me (and by world I primarily mean the social media highlight reel), I truly believed I should and could be all of the things at once… I wasn’t willing to accept the “season for everything” because it seemed there were so many others who had more on their plates than I did and they were thriving…
So what was my excuse?
I even got to the point of believing that God must have made other women who could juggle it all more giftedly than me OR that He was disappointed in me for not living up to all the things I was certain He expected of me.
Thankfully, the more time I spend with Father God, the easier it is to clearly discern what He actually says and what I think He expects of me. I start to notice the difference between stretching myself outside of my comfort zone to fulfill something He has called me to (like homeschooling!), and striving to prove myself and fulfill what I believe is expected of me.
I recently read Philippians 4:11 and couldn’t help but think Yes. THIS!
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”.
It took me a while to realize that for me, personally, being at rest was one of my heart’s biggest longings. Even greater than those dreams, was the desire for peace within myself. Ironically, I was striving in hopes of one day arriving at a place of rest, when I could just BE in rest, as is, Embracing the seasons and the doors He provides in His perfect timing.
The truth is, I am enjoying this shift to pouring in more time within the walls of my home. Every day comes with its challenges, but I am grateful to have this time growing with my littles and learning together. There WILL be a time when they will be older and the level to which I’m needed in the home will shift. There will be new treasures to explore in that season. For now, I am learning to be in the moment and see the treasures in each day.
Rest was and is available.
Right where I was.
Right where I am today.
Despite our circumstances, His rest is here for each of us in each and every moment…
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