On the Need to Release Our Former Roles

In recent days a fresh realization has dawned, oh so slowly at first.

I'm not who I was.  I'm not where I was.

You, too?

We tend to look fondly at the good old days, yet if we invest too much energy on staying fixated to what was, we become unable to move ahead because we're too busy defining our ourselves by who we were, what we did, what we accomplished.  

And if we are even slightly obsessed with that rear view mirror, we become sluggish in the willingness to venture forward, easily missing the boat when it comes to discovering who God is beckoning us to be in this fresh season.

For anything healthy grows, morphs, and changes.

We can't afford to stay stuck.


For 13 years I was a ministry leader with a title, a nameplate on a door, a place on the letterhead, a seat at the table.  I was given golden opportunities to counsel, to teach, to coach, to facilitate.  I listened and designed.  I created and led.  I had worked hard to get to that place and it was not lost on me how God opened doors for service in ways that I hadn't quite imagined.  I poured myself into the ministry, it became part of the air I breathed, it gave me purpose and fulfillment.

For good or not, it began to define who I saw myself to be.  

Ministry leadership is not for the faint of heart, certainly not without its daunting challenges and surprising pitfalls, for sure.  I was forever changed, I am forever grateful, forever in awe at what God did during that span of time.  It was a season of my life I'll fondly remember.  Always.  

31 months ago that whole ministry leadership role ended abruptly with our huge move from there to here.  I referred my clients to new counselors, donated half my books, packed up the diplomas and accolades, the files, momentos, and accomplishments.  

Leaving that role was surreal and heart-wrenching, kind of like an out-of-body experience.  Saying farewell to all that had become familiar after 38 years in one place was a bittersweet experience indeed.  {You can page through The Transition Journey ~ An Unexpected Series right here if you'd like.}

We moved on to a new state, a new culture, a new church, a new rhythm.

And things have never been the same.

Life moves at a much slower, quieter pace in this neck of the woods.  I've gradually released my expectations and agendas, worked through the surprises and frustrations, and embraced what life looks like in the here and now in this sometimes desolate but always beautiful place.

Can I tell you I love it?

These days there are no titles or nameplates, letterheads or meetings.  The diplomas are in a drawer and my commute is across the driveway and up a flight of stairs.  

Yet the essence of my counseling work with women hasn't changed a bit.  To be invited into another soul's journey is a priceless gift that I hold with gentleness and respect.  To listen to another's heart, to guide her onward to the healing place is an awesome privilege.

I've learned afresh that transitions are a seemingly endless winding road, an unseen pathway that twists and turns in oft' startling ways.  For there is much to sort through, to grieve fully, to release.  But the good news is that the journey finally opens up to new vistas if we dare go the distance ... and stay focused on what's ahead rather than forever looking behind at all that was.

I don't know what roles you've embraced that have long since lost their purpose, what experiences have defined you that are no longer valid for where you find yourself.  I'm not sure what your story is, what changes have been required in days past, what griefs and regrets you bear, what urgent yearnings are filling your soul.

All I know is that God longs to do a new thing with our giftedness, callings, and passions.  Chances are that what He's uniquely designing for each of us will only bear a faint resemblance to our past experiences.  

And that's ok.  It truly is.

And while everything around you may be changing and uncertain, the true joy is that He remains the same.  His character never wavers and His plans refuse to be thwarted.  But if we want to experience that fullness of joy and purpose, we must emerge from the past and finally release all that was ...

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connecting with Holley
every Wednesday