You might wonder why I label this mid-year reflection as we ring in the New Year. For those of you are new to my blog or who have only popped in for some of my social activism and advocacy updates, during 2018, God told me to resign from my job and take a year of sabbath rest. At the time, I thought I knew the reasons, but so many other reasons arose to the surface after my obedience that I did not know would occur at the time. Working at a school, resigning in spring for summer transition is always best for kids and the organization, and that’s what I did. As a result, my sabbath year of rest began on July 1, 2018 and will end on June 30, 2019.
Obedience to the voice of God is so very important. I am a person who struggles with faith, but two things I know: firstly, sometimes God speaks to me and that carries me through the times of doubt and struggle, and secondly, when I hear God’s voice, I must obey. The fact that God spoke to me directly and told me to resign and rest means so much to me. It lets me know I am loved and that my well-being matters to God. It reminds me that I am not here to get things done, be productive, and make an impact as my American culture would have me to believe. It reminds me of the old catechism that I had to learn as a child: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
I am enjoying God these days. I enjoy that He exists. I enjoy that His grace and mercy are new every morning. I enjoy that He is constant when I am not.
I am enjoying family these days. Don’t get me wrong, the fam drives me nuts for portions of most days, but I love all the time we have together. I love that there is time to do chores, watch tv, and play video games. I love that, when I begin to think I should be “doing something,” God’s voice echos in my mind, “I told you to rest. This is your Sabbath year,” and I settle back into whatever activity or lack there of I am enjoying.
A sabbath year works like a reset, much like fasting from something does. It reminds me of balance. It brings me perspective. When I completed my first sabbath year (this is a fairly new practice for me), I committed to a more strict weekly sabbath routine. I kept it up for a few years, and little by little, things began to creep in. During this sabbath year, I’ve not needed a strict commitment to resting a specific day per week because I am doing well at resting regularly. However, it hit me this Sunday that I did nothing and didn’t even have to work at it. This is a big deal for me!
Rest is usually work for me, but it is becoming natural, and that is a huge mental shift that I never achieved during my first sabbath year.
Much of the first half of this year was a journey of parting from the work that I loved and that served great purpose. There was a lot of pain, even bitterness and anger, as a result of some of my experiences in public education. I thought I was done with education in Muncie for good when I walked out of my office in June, but I have come to realize a few important things during this journey: one, that I am passionate about public education and that will not go away wherever I am, two, that we are going to be in Muncie for the foreseeable future, and three, as long as I live in Muncie, Inspire will be on my mind and in my heart.
After several trips this summer and fall, I finally felt ready to stay home for awhile. However, I never really found my peace as Director of Development at Inspire and being at home was hard. It didn’t feel like the right fit for me or for the organization, so when I was notified that I was being requested to serve in a new leadership role, Executive Director, I was excited but knew I needed to keep my sabbath commitment. I agreed to begin the new role part-time in November, and I have been loving it. I feel like I am able to contribute my gifts and abilities to an organization that I love and still maintain my commitment that I will not work more than part-time during this season.
In many ways, I am living the dream right now. I have a part-time job that is challenging, meaningful, and enjoyable in an organization that feels like home. I am pouring my experience with youth and education into my own kids’ growth, education, and development and getting to enjoy the middle school years with them, one of my favorite developmental phases to work with kids. I have been able to support my husband through a very challenging season, both personally and professionally. I have found some success with natural treatments for my fibromyalgia that are working, and I am hopeful to avoid adverse medication side effects over the coming years.
Is life still hard? Absolutely. Do I still love to travel to warmer and/or more beautiful places and wish to transplant my friends and family there permanently with me? Absolutely. Do I still lose my temper and yell at my kids sometimes? Absolutely. Are there days I don’t feel like anything is right in the world? Absolutely. Are there days that I doubt and fear that this life is all there is? Absolutely. And in those moments, God says (and I picture Him shaking His head at me and sighing), “I told you to rest. Has this journey not clearly been orchestrated as you’ve watched the events of 2018 unfold? I am here, and I care enough about you to speak guidance for your steps.”