What do you do when you realize your personal dreams and goals have become so intertwined with your professional opportunities at work (that you love) that you can’t tell the difference between them anymore?
When I worked at the bank it was easier to understand when a project was handed to someone else. They had more experience, knowledge, time, resources. And I could always come home and open the computer to continue working on the projects I’d started to get me a few steps closer to my personal goals.
I could accept the “no” because I was getting a “yes” somewhere else. My ministry was still moving forward. The direction I felt God was calling me to was still steady.
But lately it’s all gotten messy. I don’t know what my personal ministry or dreams are anymore because I’m not getting a “yes” outside of my connection with my work. And when I get a “no” or a “not you” for a project at work, I’ve taken it personally instead of handling it professionally. When your work is also a ministry and it’s the only place the opportunities seem to be knocking, it’s even harder.
So I took some time away from this space the last few weeks to try to sort things out in my head, and to be honest, it feels like I’m moving through some stages of grief. Which seems a bit dramatic when I write that, but it’s the only way I know how to describe it. I’ve been feeling ALL the feelings in big ways. I’ve questioned everything. I’ve pulled back from the online space and the people in it to connect and be grounded in the community in front of me, in real life.
I picked a few women to share my hurts with and their kindness has helped me start to move forward. They listened (over Voxer, so they didn’t have a choice), and they spoke kind truth over my life. They told me I WOULD be missed if I gave it all up. They told me I DO matter, that I AM good enough, and they encouraged me.
No one tried to fix it. No one I reached out to made me feel guilty for pulling back or like I was a bad friend for quietly handling things in the best way I knew how. And the moment I spoke out loud the lies that I’d been stacking up as accusations against myself, the reasons for all the “no” answers and missed opportunities and frustrating experiences, my heart was opened to what they really were.
Lies from the enemy to keep me from the work God has called me to do.
In the spirit of transparency, I’m still working through a lot of the emotions. I want to be happy and excited and encouraging to the women I see online who are doing incredible things, but more often than not I’m still stuck in a tender spot of “why not me?” Hi, my name is Crystal and I struggle with jealousy and comparison. Because I’m human, and in my moments of sadness those lies find a much easier path to sneak into my head and my heart.
But if you’re going through something like this – a hard season when it feels like nothing is going the way you planned and you find yourself living in your own head far too often, will you find at least one friend today to share it with? Someone you can trust, who won’t judge you but who will kindly point out the lies and speak and pray truth boldly over your life so that one of these days you’ll start to believe it again.
That you ARE chosen.
You ARE included.
You ARE called.
You WILL do beautiful things for the Kingdom of God.
You ARE worthy.
You ARE brave.
You ARE important.
You DO belong.
Some of the lies I was telling myself and believing about myself I didn’t even recognize until I typed them out or spoke them out loud and someone else pointed them out to me. My self-criticism and feelings of doubt had started to sound so believable in my own head that I’d turned moments of learning into lies.
Where I should have learned that it’s not all about me (ha! words I speak frequently to my 4 year old), I began to believe that it would never be about me because I would never be enough. When we make it about ourselves we miss our chance to make it about God. And in His Kingdom, fair often looks less like being in the spotlight and more like moving to the side so someone else can shine.
Where I should have learned to spend time with God to see what personal ministry looks like for me now that my day-to-day looks so much like what I’ve always dreamed of and yet nothing at all like I’d planned, I began to believe that God was done with me. I’d been clinging so long to some personal expectations of where all this writing would take me, what I could do with my love for social media and teaching that I’d forgotten along the way to pause and see if it was still tracking with God’s plan for my life. Because I need something that’s MINE. Not something offered because of my work connections or gifted to me because someone doesn’t want it anymore. I need to spend time with God to discover what it is He wants MY ministry to be, so that when the work “no” comes along, I can open my computer and still have my “thing.”
If you’re going through a season like this, know that I’m praying for you. Know that I know what it’s like to fight those lies. I know what it’s like to feel too small, unnoticed, overlooked, unworthy, insecure. And maybe, for today, that’s where God is calling me. To be here for YOU. As a friend who gets it, who is going through it, and who can say “me, too.”
Thank you for this post. It was very encouraging for someone who is often stuck in his own head.
I love your line. “My lies of self-criticism and doubt had started to sound so believable in my own head that I had turned moments of learning into lies.” Oh, that is so relatable. And it is just what our enemy wants us to beleive. Thanks for reminding us of the truth.
Glad to see you online again. I don’t say that lightly. The process of pursuing stuff is hard…and sometimes a little heartbreaking. People like to throw around that if something is “of God,” it’ll always just “happen.” (If God didn’t simply *build* the boat for Noah, I’m betting that a lot of the time the rest of us also have to roll our sleeves up—even when it feels confusing and awful and foreign.) Then others like to say “just try harder, do more, use ALL the exclamation points!!!” (Maybe if you try a rain dance, Noah!) That’s exhausting, too. I suppose the hardest part to all that is always knowing whether each of us is building the right ‘boat.’ (Not entirely sure if I’m building a boat or a dock at the moment…) For as much as I like and have been comforted by Hebrews 11:1…verse 13 can feel varying degrees of dreadful before it feels comforting. On that, did you know the word “comfort” that’s often used to describe the Holy Spirit actually more literally means “with strength” instead of merely to console? I didn’t know that until recently. Instead of a nurse tending wounds, it should actually be a picture of someone strengthening us in battle. Whoa. Virtual iced mocha cheers to building the right boat I guess! <3
Heather Dixon says
Crystal, these are wise words for anyone to hear, not just those who are walking in ministry, working in social media, or trying to gain traction somewhere on the web. True to the nature that I have always sensed from you, you are an amazing encourager. I have no doubt that there are other gifts that God has blessed you with, but this one shines bright. Thank you for encouraging us!