Taking our time is not really even in our culture's vocabulary anymore. No surprise there. Everything around us is in a race to gratify us most instantaneously. The fastest way to happy. Hurry up and arrive!
Except I don't think that's how it works for most of us.
So here I am. In one of Americas busiest cities. Choosing to take time. Washington, DC makes a living on being busy and important. Call it a career break, a listening tour, a season of rest, a pause, unpaid sabbatical, a rebellion against the norm, whatever you want to call it, it deserves credit for what it is. One of the most important things I could have done for myself. And to be clear, I have no idea where it's leading.
I've been listening to Oprah's super soul conversations a lot lately and her introduction for every podcast episode includes a message about how time is one of the most important things we can give ourselves. Unhurried time to connect with the deeper world around us. Of course I like that it affirms what I'm doing but I think it's beckoning all of us to think about the importance of something we rarely do. Stop.
And if you want permission or you're looking for an invitation, here it is!
Finding myself 15 years into my career pursuit and almost a decade into the grind of working for a non-profit working to combat slavery and human trafficking, I felt....well...TIRED. Used up. Burnt out. But more than that, I realized I wasn't stopping to recognize amidst the daily slug that I had a choice. I didn't have to keep choosing a career path that felt like a constant churn and burn. Or a job that was increasingly pulling me further away from what I love and what I do best. I don't have that all figured out but I'll tell you this, it has become a lot clearer in the last 6 months.
The listening tour has taken a different turn than I first imagined. I envisioned it to be a tour with mostly professional voices and coaches. There have been those voices for sure. But the majority of the voices have been spiritual advisors, mentors, life coaches. Wise voices who have been where I am now and can speak into the unknowns and restlessness with peace and certainty.
I want to share some of the themes that have surfaced along this listening tour. But first, I'll tell you the main reasons I left my job. I've already shared that I knew I needed to change course. I knew I wanted to be in an environment where the sacrifices I was making (the literal blood, sweat and tears) were more than just expected. A place where the daily demands and metrics I was meeting were pointing me toward something hopeful. I left because this was no longer the environment I was working in. I left to take back control over my priorities: my husband and our increasing desire to start a family, a career trajectory that utilizes and affirms my gifts in a way that is mutually rewarding not perpetually draining, and time to slow down and listen.
Some of the themes that have surfaced are...
Embrace going against the flow.
Don't just DO restful sounding things. Rest.
Do not despise this season or otherwise look past or try to speed through it.
The most important voice on the listening tour: God's. Prioritize the voice of the One who sees all, knows all, created all things and is in all things. "Many are the plans in a person's heart but it's the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
Let go of the need to fill the calendar to feel purposeful.
Build a stronger team with my husband. Fall more in love.
No looking back!
Be expectant. Hopefully expectant. Miracles are coming!
"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind." -C.S. Lewis
There is more to this story and to all of our stories. Let's wait and watch as the beauty (in all of it's layers of highs and lows, light and dark) unfolds.