It has been almost two months since I left the event industry and began a new career. And I have to say, I’m quite in love with my new arrangement. Not only have I found necessary time for myself and my loved ones, but I have found abundant free time for writing, reading, and experiencing life which means many scheduled posts in the upcoming months. God is good!
When I still have those urges for event planning, though, I am also in very good hands. On March 3rd I was lucky enough to assist in orchestrating an amazing women’s retreat called If:Gathering at my church for 300 ladies passionate for God, strengthening their faith, and performing discipleship. IF’s mission is to equip women with gospel-centered resources, events, and community so they may learn more about who God is and disciple other women. (You can find out more about the organization here.) Talk about an amazingly inspirational day, and some seriously deep thoughts coming from asking “What IF…”
IF began with a heavy discussion on the darkness of Life: doubt. (Literally this was the topic covered minutes into the first speaker’s speech, guys, so talk about a solid foundation for the day’s agenda.) Questions such as “How would you describe the season you’re living?” and “What makes you weak?” were asked. Imagery of sparking fires within ourselves to grow and flourish were mentioned. Each woman’s purpose in Life was explored. And a stirring occurred within me which made me reevaluate a few of the only negative things still hanging around in my life. It was quite the day, friends!
Let me back up a bit though and start from the beginning. The first speaker was a ridiculously motivational woman by the name of Jo Saxton. Jo, while leading IF into the discussion of doubt in our lives’ purposes, created the acronym WEAK. It was following her explanation of the things in our lives which make us WEAK that I began to think of the Worries, Expectations, unhealthy Appetites, and things that Knock me down in my own day-to-day living.
Disappointing those I love was top of my list, followed closely by not meeting the demanding expectations I place on myself and those which I perceive others to place on me. If anyone is their own worst critic, it’s me. Yet when I considered my “Season in Life” I had to raise a brow to how easily Life seems to be moving lately. Perhaps its the removal of harmful relationships, the addition and focus on uplifting friendships, a new outlook on my role in the community, or simply leading a life with an actual direction, but my life really hasn’t seemed much better up to this point.
Though with more internal focus, I had to admit that something still felt out of place in the fullness and positivity I seemed to have found in Life. But what?
I couldn’t play dumb for long.
As Jo continued, any sort of weakness in our lives allows for doubt to trap us and “stick us in the middle.”
I knew exactly what my weakness was — what was keeping me stuck in a place that had a hint of darkness still — and it quickly became apparent that I would be facing my own darkness head-on at IF…
All in all, the day’s first discussion brought a clear picture to mind that I cannot control my circumstances, but I can definitely control my attitude. However, I’m guilty of not always controlling my attitude in a God-pleasing manner. Sarcasm and disconnection have been my first calls to action in the past. Instead, I would like to become more understanding, more patient, and more expansive in all aspects of my life, especially in cases where a trial hits me with full-force. This is something I have been working on and intend to keep growing.
With those thoughts in mind, I traced back to the question, “How would I describe the season I’m living?”
Currently, I would say I’m in a Season of Transition. Life has been continuously changing around me over the past year: a new career, a new marital status, a changing friendship pool, new responsibilities, new community groups, new ideals for every day life. I’ve had to adapt to all these things and am preparing to adapt more in the very near future.
This concept hit me pretty hard at IF though. I anticipated the hit somewhat — I mean, some sort of revelation is supposed to happen at a retreat, right? — but I did not expect to get emotional and tear-up throughout the day. Mostly, I came to grips with the realization that I had lost one key thing within the past year which I never foresaw losing: the monumental relationship I had with my best friend, a girl I viewed as my own blood. That one-on-one girl time of true heart-to-heart talks, late-night wine dates full of ranting and venting, the inside jokes, the many hugs, the laughter, and the carefree silliness that was our relationship. I lost my sister, and I’ve never really come to terms with that loss or mourned her.
IF was the first place I finally let all the emotions felt from that loss out. I relived our parting, our final words to one another, and the aftermath of losing my closest girlfriend. And I openly admitted to myself — as well as to my mother — that I feared I would never find a friendship with another woman that strong again.
It was like a punch to the gut.
But as I was wallowing in that pain, God granted a true blessing to be heard: the next speaker began discussing the passage of Life. She spoke on God choosing the times and seasons of our lives, and the fact that He also gives us the gifts and talents to pass through each of those periods with grace and poise.
Over the past several months I have been holding such sadness and resentment towards my old friend. Yet in the end, that black void has kept me trapped. IF helped release me from my own thoughts and emotions. It allowed me a space to mourn my friendship. It allowed me to grieve.
And it also reminded me that events and other people are outside my control.
I had been telling myself that she made me feel upset, that she had hurt me, that she was to blame. When in actuality, it has been me all along. I allowed that one circumstance to control a part of me and I decided how I felt about that loss and decision to leave a friendship.
There was also the underlying feelings of disappointment and failure in myself. The fear that I can not manage a good friendship and truly make it last. That I had failed as a friend.
Yet just as these self-harming thoughts began to replace those of resentment, the speaker made a statement which brought my attention back into focus:
If something is causing you to sin — as in be angry, anxious, jealous, etc. — then it may be time to back away so you can be set free to run your own race which God has set for you.
Another reminder as to why I should be persisting forward without that darkness of grief, resentment, and pain in my life.
Right then and there I was so incredibly thankful I had been lead to IF. I have no doubt that IF was God’s way of tossing the truth in front of me and realigning my thoughts and feelings to Him and full happiness.
IF provided the epiphany that I had a weight dragging me down. That weight was my grief and resentment, and it was holding me back from moving forward towards ultimate success. That weight was stirring inside me, full of anger and depression and self-hatred — all emotions that are not God-driven. And I decided, as I hung my head for the final prayer, that I no longer wanted to carry that weight around with me.
With that resolution, I am moving forward.
I am moving towards my finish line, towards my ultimate success.
Now when I say “ultimate success,” I mean a life that is pleasing and in complete devotion to God. Ultimately, this results in complete happiness and an overall healthy — mentally, emotionally, spiritually — life as well. So what I am moving towards is the greatest goal I can conceivably imagine!
As IF ended, there was more imagery of starting a fire and spreading God’s good news. Though IF’s purpose was to stir passions of discipleship among the women in attendance, for me IF was a well-needed reminder as to the purpose of so much change in my life and a promise that God is working for my best. Perhaps that is my message to fan into flame right now; perhaps this little blog post will help someone else out there who is struggling to understand their current circumstance and needs a little reminder as to why things happen the way they do…
Perhaps, but who am I to say? I’m still struggling myself, friends, but at least now I’ve chosen to move forward and continue on the path God has directed me — it just took a little bit of guidance from some amazing women to get me back on track.
However, if you are someone in a challenging Season of Life and want more guidance, I highly recommend IF and its tools. IF even has a Vimeo channel which houses some inspiring footage. Check it out here!
Then, when you’re ready, I want to ask you to answer the following question as you choose to move forward with your own God-given purpose:
I still don’t have a concrete answer myself on how I plan to be a flamethrower, but I do feel I’m on the right route by attempting to lose my personal weights in order to run a little bit faster towards the finish. I’m thinking of my journey to find my purpose as my own little marathon training — minus the shin splints and unnecessary crying.
With all this being said, I do have something to say to my old friend: I am sorry.
I am so incredibly sorry for my part in our goodbye… I’m sorry for the way things ended and the hurt felt on both sides.
But more importantly thank you for who you were to me. Though the departing hurt immensely, I have more fond memories of our friendship than damaged ones and those positive moments are what I choose to hold onto from here on out. I miss you, my friend.
And ultimately, I wish you nothing but happiness, good health, and much (much, much, much) love in the future.