About 3 months ago, I was launched into a major personal transition. This was the latest bend in the road in my ongoing discernment and discovery of personal vocation. Quite without warning, I was propelled into planning for a major new creative undertaking and a new business – something I had never in my life imagined I would do. I knew that in order for this new direction to happen, I would need to create space. That meant turning down requests for speaking and reducing the number of individual appointments I usually have (even if it is on Zoom).
I was crystal clear regarding what I needed to do, but with every “no” I gave to requests for talks, retreat, or individual meet – all which I was at peace with turning down – my heart felt a little heavier. I delivered my last talks for 2020 with great energy and enjoyment, and I was excited about the new projects ahead of me, but all this while I did not notice that emotional tension was building up inside me.
I had the foresight to take a week’s break after my last engagement. It was meant to be a “sabbath week”, a time of rest and unplugging myself intellectually and emotionally before plunging into the new work I need to do. It turned out to be very difficult to keep the discipline of rest. Now and then I found my mind racing ahead with ideas and I would find myself furiously googling and researching instead of taking the break I knew I needed. Perhaps because of this, I found myself feeling emotionally overwhelmed when the time came to start work proper, and I knew I absolutely needed to pause and listen to what my heart was trying to tell me.
The epiphany came like a bolt of lightning on a particularly difficult day last week, and it came in a waterfall of tears. It finally hit me: I was in the process of making a major transition in my life direction and I needed to grieve. I had been so caught up with the excitement and challenges of the season that lay ahead of me, I had forgotten to make time to feel the sorrow in my heart for stepping out of the season I had been in for the last 5-6 years. These had been years of deep interior renovation, healing and inner growth. I had learned to listen, to cultivate a more contemplative spirit, and to serve quietly in hiddenness.
The last 6 years have been a time of learning self-care and boundaries, of learning to play again and to laugh at my foibles. I have grown healthier – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As part of that season I also had the luxury of time to have long and deep conversations with people – often 3-4 hours at minimum for each appointment. At times, my one-on-one spiritual conversations would last up to 7 hours, yet it was always amazingly life-giving for both parties. I was deeply aware that it was a privilege and a priceless grace to be able to give this extravagant gift of time and presence to others in our hurried and busy world, and I never quite thought about when that might change. When that change came suddenly upon me, I started moving on without even fully realising that moving on meant letting go of so many things about the last 6 years that had become so dear to me.
So I’m now consciously making room for grief as well as gratitude. When I say “no” to something that I would have said “yes” to in the previous season, I remind myself to take the time to listen to the grief in my heart for leaving that part of me behind. Then I let myself remember how grateful I am for all the times I had been able to say “yes” to those experiences in the past and how much I have grown because of them. Finally, I remind myself that nothing that has passed is truly gone. The journey of life is dynamic and seasonal but each step, each season is part of the same tapestry that God is making with and for me as I continue to follow His call.
I will follow – with a whole heart and a joyful spirit. But I also pray for the grace to know how to pause, to rest, to remember, and to grieve what I have to let go of in order to be made into the new creation I am constantly becoming as I become ME.