That’s how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything here.
Not exactly what I had in mind…..
When I began this blog in October, I was so ecstatic about getting started on the ministry I’d felt God calling me to for so long. After years of planning and dreaming, I finally had a place of my own to write and make a difference!
Unfortunately, typical to my overly ambitious personality, I jumped in full force and came up with far too many ideas of what I wanted to accomplish.
I had grandiose plans of turning my 31 day series into an eBook by January, posting at least three times a week, hosting book clubs, writing guest posts, conducting interviews…
You know, all the cool things you do when you’re a “pro blogger.”
(I know right? Cuz I’m totally at that level….)
But, of course, real life, happened. I’ll fill you in on the details another day, but let’s just say for now that God had different plans for how I would be spending my time than what I had planned originally.
As I entered December, life was finally calming down and my heart was on fire from everything the Lord had been teaching me about suffering and His faithfulness that year. (Two themes that were very strong throughout 2014.)
I felt such a burden to share with you how Jesus brings light into darkness. So, because it was the season of advent, going through Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” seemed like the perfect opportunity to do this.
What I began to realize from going through that book club with you all, is how I had never stopped to process everything that had happened that year. Life had been go, go, go for the last several months and I had never really taken a break. My family, friends, home, church, and online community were the dominating recipients of my all thoughts, time and energy.
The knowledge crept up on me like a wave:
I was burnt out.
My cup was empty and dry from continuously pouring out, and the realization was hard for me to accept.
But I love pouring myself out to others! There is nothing that brings me greater joy!
So I pressed on, and dug deep from the last drops of my well so I could keep pouring out on this blog for you. Instead I found I had nothing left to give.
While everything in me wanted to keep going, I just kept hearing God say over and over again,
Absorb me. Draw from My well. Let me fill you again.
And so stop is what I finally did.
And it is just now that I am coming out of blog hibernation to tell you about the humbling lesson the Lord has been teaching me these last three months.
Since January, I have been making it my mission to learn the art of being still.
Many of you are familiar with the One Word movement. For those of you that aren’t, it is an alternative to making New Year’s resolutions by choosing one word that you want to be your focus for the year instead of making a list of goals.
I had never done it before, but as I entered into January I kept hearing this same word over and over.
Verb (used with object)
1) To silence or hush (sounds, voices, etc.).
2) To calm, appease, or allay: to still a craving.
3) To quiet, subdue, or cause to subside (waves, winds, commotion, tumult, passion, pain, etc.).
Verb (used without object)
1) To become still or quiet.
Oh how my heart and mind have needed to be quiet…
You see, I have this huge problem, and I’m hoping I’m not the only one here with it.
I overanalyze everything…
I used to think it was a virtue that made me so intellectual and wise. Now I’m thinking it’s more of a mental disease.
I find myself stressing constantly about every little thing that I have to do, or want to do, or am not doing well enough. I feel the need to have every detail of my life planned out and know exactly which direction I am moving in at all times.
It is exhausting.
It’s not so much the actions that exhaust me as it is the mental and emotional energy I put it into obsessing over them.
My brain has needed a severe break.
For the last three months, this has meant not being involved in the blogging world and taking a break from ministry outside my home.
I’ve still been spending time with friends, hosting company and helping here and there where needed. However, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to not engage in making plans. Especially ministry related ones.
You have to understand what torture this has been for me!
I’m an action oriented person. I don’t think it’s possible for me to not be one! I love to serve. I love to be bold and start new things and get deep into people’s lives. It’s who God made me to be, and I am so thankful for that!
But as I said above, I have become so focused on the action steps in my life, I haven’t allowed any room for my mind and my heart to breathe.
Isaiah 30: 15 has been piercing my heart these days. It says,
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
Rest, quietness, trust, strength – the words themselves are like a balm to my weary heart. However, as I meditated on these words, I struggled to think about what it was that I needed to repent from in order to obtain that soul rest. What did it actually meant to be quiet?
I knew it deep down in my soul. It was the monster of pride that told me I had to have every unanswered question figured out, that I could be all things to all people, and that I didn’t need to slow down because I could handle this.
I didn’t realize that living with those lies was like telling God that I didn’t need Him.
I didn’t realize how my determination to hyper analyze all of the unanswered questions in my life until I found an answer, wasn’t living in faith at all.
I began to see how my motivation to serve others and be involved in many things was morphing from a heart of love into a heart of performance.
I had been doing things in my own strength for so long, and that was why I had no rest.
That was what I needed to repent of.
But for so long, my stubborn self would have none of it.
It was time to take a break and spend some time just being still and waiting for God to show me the next step.
It was time to stop spending my energy on what I needed to do, or be, or plan for, and just focus on who He is.
Because taking my eyes off of me and my performance and focusing on Him and what He has done, is the only thing that will make my restless, weary heart be still.
A couple weeks ago I, along with thousands of other women around the world, and alongside three lovely ladies in my home, watched the IF: Gathering.
My heart soared as I listened to the testimonies of faith. I cheered with every proclamation of truth.
However, when it reached the end of the conference, and everyone was challenged to write down what their next step of faith and obedience would be, I panicked.
I couldn’t think of anything significant that I was absolutely positive God was calling me to do.
Sure, I knew plenty of things I wanted to do for the Kingdom.
I’d love to write, speak, start a ministry, plan conferences, travel, adopt orphans, lead Bible studies, mentor youth, raise my babies, love my husband, make my home a sanctuary…. the list could literally go on and on…
I’ve spent hours wracking my brain trying to figure out the exact steps that God has for me – not just right now, but for years to come.
I’ve felt that if I just analyze every possible angle I can find the secret to God’s calling on my life.
The problem I’m finding with this thinking however, is that I don’t think God always wants me to know what the next step is.
It is not up to me to figure out this grand calling on my life.
It’s not up to me to know the next step He has for me.
It’s up to Him to reveal it.
Not knowing what God has in store, is the perfect place to exercise faith.
I was trying to create a life where I didn’t need faith. I was depending on my own wisdom and insight to provide me with answers.
I assumed that if I just kept moving and doing that God would grant me peace from the satisfaction of all my efforts for Him.
I now finally realize that it’s ok to not know what’s next for me.
I don’t have to know exactly what God has planned for the future of my family, this blog, or any ministry opportunities that come my way. I just have to be available whenever He is ready to take me somewhere new.
The girls looked at me after they had finished sharing their lovely steps of faith. “So what’s yours, Heather?”
I looked at them confidently.
“My step of faith is standing still. I don’t know what God has in store for me, and not knowing is scary. But for once, I’m going to listen, be quiet and wait while He unravels my story.”