“I never thought it would happen to me.”
Famous last words. These eight words preceded pastoral abuse, employee theft, marital infidelity, and relational strife. When we feel we are immune, we become the most vulnerable to “catching” what we perceived ourselves to be “above”.
Perceived immunity regularly leads to prolonged sickness.
Recently, I “woke up” and realized that I had been just living from day-to-day without a sense of long-term vision, nor a sense of rootedness in my identity and core values. As I’ve thought back through conversations with friends over the last several years, I recognized I wasn’t the first to experience this. Maybe you’ve been there yourself…maybe you’re even living here now.
These are 3 things I’ve done to help me start working my way back.
1. Ask for help. If you were going to get out of this on your own, you would’ve by now. Find the courage within yourself to come clean and be honest with someone you trust. For me, everything spilled out unexpectedly in a conversation with a friend. It was a surprise confession and once I started I couldn’t stop. He listened and responded with a lot of insight. And two pieces of great advice – not ten, just two. You cannot change everything at once, but you can start making incremental changes that give you leverage to make bigger ones.
2. Reconnect with your core. For me the word “core” has been inescapable lately. Focusing on core values. Building my core. Reconnecting with my core identity. I recently began a more intentional approach to my mornings. Reading plans in YouVersion, journaling with my fountain pen, and pulling books off the shelf that formed the core of my identity and spirituality. I’ve found a renewed sense of focus as I’ve connected with the most important pieces of who I am and what I do.
3. Move forward with intentionality and sustainability. One of the reasons many of us get lost is a lack of intentionality partnered with an unsustainable frenetic pace of life. We don’t draw boundaries; we refuse to say that powerful two letter NO. Many of us need to end of our days consistently leaving unfinished items on our to-do lists and projects on our desks. It’s okay to leave at that point. Go to the gym, meet that friend for dinner, return home and be present with your family. Get some sleep! Taking deliberate steps and paying attention to a sustainable pace will give you space to rediscover that core you’ve lost sight of and it will help you apply the insight you gained from those who know you best. (A little secret I’ve learned in my 20′s…unfinished work is not a statement of judgement on you; sometimes it means you’re doing work you shouldn’t be doing or other things were more important that day).
When it comes to rediscovering my core and forging a way forward, I wouldn’t say I’m out of the woods yet. But I feel the ship that is me turning and I feel a renewed sense of hope, passion, and vision. I’m taking steps forward with the courage, responsibility and intentionality that had been absent for far too long.
I hope you have the courage today to open your eyes and (for many of you) embrace the reality that you’ve lost your way. As a pastor and a student of the Scriptures, one thing I can tell you with confidence…with God, it is never to late to become who you were created to be.
(If you’ve caught yourself answering the question “How are you doing?” with “I’m busy” recently, check out my post about the busy trap.)