Back to Work (Sort Of)

I had it all planned out in my head. I would release a blog post talking about the dream job that came after waiting all of these months for a breakthrough.

In a perfect world, I would jump right into full-time work because everything would be right in my life again. I even talked about it in my latest post, where I met a woman who mentioned her company’s job opening and how I thought that could be “the one.”

But that’s not how my life is moving.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that I wanted a transitional job to ease back into full-time work. I still need the flexibility to take time for myself, decompress, etc.

So when an opportunity presented itself for me to work a seasonal role, I considered it and ultimately said yes.

I was hesitant at first (and still am) because I don’t feel 100% refreshed. I haven’t gotten everything out of this season that I was hoping to get. Namely: restful sleep, peace of mind and physical healing.

But what I have gotten is so much more valuable: deeper intimacy with God, greater strength to weather hard times, deeper empathy towards all people, quality time with myself and my loved ones.

I went to a church conference last weekend and one of the pastors said something that stood out to me in particular. Basically, he was saying that Christians tend to tell ourselves that we’re “waiting on God,” when really we’re just being paralyzed by fear.

We want the road to be clear, the waters to be calm, before we step out. But what if that clarity and calmness doesn’t come until after we take the first step, after we move in faith?

Yet, even as I’m writing this, I’m being reminded of the title of my very first blog post on this site, “Stepping out the Boat.”

I did that. I stepped out. And it has not at all been the road I was expecting to traverse upon.

I expected an enjoyable time. I expected rest. I expected to be in positive spirits the majority of my days.

But I will tell you that I’ve been on this journey for 4 months and those expectations did not get met.

Now, I’ve had some fun times, yes. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed being with my family and some friends here and there.

But I’ve worked through so many inner battles that nothing can really compare to it.

I haven’t written the full blow-by-blow journey for public eyes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still struggling behind the scenes. You guys are just getting the cliff notes version of this.

Anyways, my point was that I already stepped out of the boat and clarity didn’t come. Or it didn’t come the way I thought it would.

So why should I expect something different this time? the negative voice in my head says.

Because God is still moving and working and breathing life into me. He is still writing this story. I think I’m the author, but I’m really not.

My choice to step out of the boat again (I guess somewhere in the past 4 months I got back in the boat of comfortability) and take on a part-time job is out of a desire to keep moving forward. To not let fear paralyze me. To get back out there and see what happens. To remember what I’m made of.

I bet you all wouldn’t believe how much I struggle with negative thoughts since I’m so encouraging on my public platforms.

I’ve been quoted as saying this before: “Encouragers need the most encouragement!”

And it’s so true. We dole it out because we know what it’s like to be discouraged, so we try our best to help add light to those around us. That doesn’t make us immune to life’s difficulties. It simply means we’re human.

I know my last few posts have gotten away from the strict theme of Superwoman Syndrome, but I think it’s worth mentioning here.

I’ve truly been faced with my humanity during this time. And that might sound silly.

Like, Duh, Jess. Of course you’re human.

But sometimes I don’t feel like I have permission to be. Sometimes I feel like I have to have it all together all of the time.

I didn’t grow up being encouraged to fail forward or fail at all. I was always expected to win. So I did.

But I’m redefining what winning looks like now.

Winning no longer means holding in my feelings to make other people comfortable.

Winning no longer means doing everything in my own strength.

It means asking for help.

It means taking the big girl step of stepping down from her responsibilities so she can be present for herself first and then others second.

It means celebrating the parts of myself that I would have never thought I would have to face.

That’s winning.

So, as this the title of this post says, I’m back to work.

But maybe the point was to remember that I’ve been working all along. I’ve been doing so much inner healing work. So much self-work.

Why is it that only our work for others gets counted as real work?

What about the intrinsic values that we pour into ourselves?

Is it because it can’t be quantifiable or assigned a dollar amount that it’s not as valid?

#TimesUp on that!

These are some of the strongholds I’ve been battling: ideas of what’s normal, what’s acceptable, what’s praiseworthy.

It gives these verses in Philippians 4 new meaning:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (v 8-9).

This is, of course, immediately after the famous verse about being anxious for nothing.

The antidote to being anxious is to meditate on the lovely and praiseworthy things.

And my revelation, just as I’m typing in real time, is that cognitive dissonance comes when what I’m meditating on is thought to be excellent, noble, praiseworthy, etc. but it really IS NOT!

Some mindsets are passed down from generation to generation without question. They are deemed as acceptable, admirable, lovely, excellent, etc. but maybe they could take a second look.

I’m someone who questions things. I was a philosophy major, after all.

I guess if you could frame this sabbatical period as a research study, these were the key questions that I endeavored to explore the answer to:

Why do I feel bad for being emotionally expressive?

Why do I feel bad for taking time to myself?

Why do I feel bad for turning down opportunities?

Why is it noble to work nonstop and not take breaks?

Why can’t a sabbatical be praiseworthy as well?

Why is it excellent to always have something to brag about?

Why is it admirable to handle all of life’s problems alone?

Who said I have to be all things to all people at all times?

Are you seeing it now? Are you seeing how these mindsets can affect one’s inner sense of achievement and significance and well-being?

Why didn’t anyone call a flag on the play and let me know that wasn’t mentally or emotionally healthy?

Why aren’t we having these conversations on the regular?

I’m setting forth a new normal in my life. It may take a while to perfect, so I have to be gracious with myself. I know it will take many shapes and forms over the years.

But I need to set forth standards that are actually true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise FOR ME. And those are the things that I need to meditate on if I want to attain the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Like author and speaker Joyce Meyer said, “The battlefield is in the mind.”

If I’m believing harmful ways of being/living/operating as “the norm,” no matter how subtle they are, they will catch up to me eventually.

We have to hold each other accountable and watch out for those destructive mindsets that isolate us and have us slaving for people, places and things that are not worth our time, energy and effort.

We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to seek help.

We have to protect ourselves by the voices we surround ourselves with.

I may not have completely “slain” Superwoman Syndrome, but each day I’m one step stronger. With each decision to listen to my inner voice. With each mindful moment. With each therapy session. With each disclosing conversation. With each deep breath.

This is the work. This will continue to be the work moving forward.

The work isn’t a job or a career or a business.

It’s my life work of self-awareness, self-care and self-advocacy. My own personal ministry. My calling.

Thank you for joining in on some of my journey through this blog.

Thank you for reading and commenting and calling and texting.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

I hope you enjoyed the ride.

I know this is starting to sound like a break-up letter. But please keep the conversation going by sharing these posts with other Superwomen in your circle. Allow the encouragement to keep flowing and pouring.

I have a feeling that this will take a new shape in upcoming weeks and months and I’m excited to see what comes of it!

Until Next Time,

Jess

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