What’s it like three month after your first great dream officially ends and you’re wondering what comes next?
There’s a lot. Much of it very good, some of it very difficult. (And I want to share the difficult parts with you as well. Why? Click here.)
I’ll tell you about one challenge I’m struggling with right now.
It’s probably the reason why my twitter feed has dried up, my newsletter keeps getting pushed to the back burner, and why I haven’t posted very much here recently.
It’s the fear that comes from the stress of the several major transitions and the million little ones that I’m in the midst of right now.
It’s the fear that comes from having sent out several inquiries out into the wind, ones that could make a big difference for my life, and not having any control over what happens next.
It’s the fear that comes from knowing the career that I had assiduously built for the last fifteen years (that’s half my life!) is gone and that a good part of my next one will likely involve stocking grocery shelves. (I find myself saying, “Grocery stores! I’m 31! I have a Masters Degree! I’ve planted a church! I don’t stock grocery shelves! Yes, I clearly have some major issues to work through with this.)
It’s the fear of that I will not discover what I want to do next, followed by the much more intense fear that I will discover what I want to do next, but no one will care when I try.
It’s not all the time. There are days when I’m hopeful and excited for the future. However, there are also other days when so much as opening my laptop seems too much to handle.
Here’s the hard truth:
There’s no magical spiritual jujitsu, where, through the perfect combination of positive thoughts (I can do it!), the right opportunities (and then, just as I realized I could do it, that amazing job opportunity came through!), and the right affirmations, (and then, that person who always thought I was a miserable failure called me up to say how they were wrong, I am amazing, and how I had a great future in store for me!), I can wrestle my fear to the ground and beat the living crap out of it.
Maybe there are people who have such incredibly relentless resilience that, after getting knocked to the ground, they can spring back up, cheerfully dust themselves off, and leap into the next thing.
However, for mere mortals, like me, there are no easy answers.
All I’ve learned so far is this: the only way to get to the other side of my fear is to go through it, and trust there’s something good on the other side.
And that process sucks.
That’s the best I think any of us can do: travel through our fear day by day, grabbing onto every inch of progress, and trusting (or at least acting as if we trust) that something better lies at the other end.
I know that it will get easier. Decisions will get made. Doors will open (or close.) Life will get easier.
Until then, keeping going is the best that I (or any of us) can do.
Through my experiences in my almost 43 years, I have begun to get an inkling that our perceived chaos is sometimes God’s order trying to work in our lives. You are so right to think about doors opening and closing. It’s hard to let go of the security of what we are used to controlling. I feel that truly walking the walk can be a humbling (and by that I mean humiliating) experience in the world…but will most definitely become a spiritual triumph in Him.
That’s my hope as well. The chaos often works together for good- it’s just very unsettling, at least for me!
I love this post Ben, and I admire your candor. You’re right, all any of us can do is move forward, though it helps to know you are not alone in your struggles (misery loves company…and a robust red wine).
Uncertainty is stressful, and so many are living like this-between jobs, underemployed, deprived of the power that comes from the security and esteem of pursuing the avocation they were trained for. I have faced this a challenge to my self-esteem for years-still do.
A person’s resiliency often depends on their support system-consider me one of your buttresses.
Thanks Lynne and likewise! Fear is best traveled through with company, I think!
No matter if you never did another thing in your life (which we know will not be the case), you and Melissa made something, something vibrant and full of hope and love that helped a community and its people–how many can claim such glory?
We talk to our girls at Esperanza about grit because it’s the difference maker, but it’s so hard to practice what we preach. This is not just about fear, I think it’s about grief still and laying this beautiful dream to rest and the place/role it allowed you to inhabit.
It is my experience that God builds us up and cuts us down to size to humble us–and help us grow. I am so looking forward to seeing the next chapter of your odyssey unfold and see what great things you bring to fruition.
We love you guys and I’ve promised Montserrat and Charlotte I will bring them up to Portland to visit you!!!