Monday, January 8, 2018

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.

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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 ...


Up next?  
The $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway!

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connecting with Holley
every Wednesday

60 comments:

  1. Linda: great post. So glad to see you have adapted to your new role and God's plan for your life. Personally? I AM SO GLAD I am not where I was even a year ago. It's been over a year since I was hit by the car and almost a year since I went over the handlebars and did some major damage to my body. But...oooohh...what God has taught me. I would do it all over again to be where I am today.

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    1. It makes me smile that a pastor is kicking off the conversation this afternoon, Bill. You've had one heck of a year, friend ... yet have emerged stronger, wiser, with a story to tell that's going to resonate.

      I'm grateful to know you ...

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  2. Oh Linda, your words are so timely for me, my friend. I'm transitioning from mommy of littles to mom of young adults. My kids are 15 and 23 so this transition should have already been locked in but I've been kicking and screaming throughout it ;). Thank you for your always wise and encouraging thoughts. You are so right - through it all He remains the same. I'll take that with me today.

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    1. Now THERE'S a transition that's not for the faint of heart! I remember it well and wasn't sure we'd all survive. But by God's grace we did ... and you will, Candace.

      Been-there-done-that hint: I only wish I had had a whole lot more grace and humor in the process.

      ;-}

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  3. Oh Linda, I'm so glad you love your new life ... what a blessing that is! What you've written here is encouraging my heart and mind today more than I can express ... thank you, my friend!

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    1. I'm glad you leave here encouraged, Lois.

      Don't you just love how God lets us do that for each other ...

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  4. So true, Linda. We can enjoy our memories of the past, but woe to us if we rest there too long. God is calling us forward, to new experiences and adventures, and we need to remain open to the invitation.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Kinda makes me wonder what many of us might have missed along the way because we spent too much time gazing with sadness out that rear view mirror ...

      * sigh *

      I'm glad to travel with you, Martha ...

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  5. This is one of your very best! Such a great post---it bears re-reading! Thank you for these words of wisdom!
    Blessings!

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    1. You're kind, friend. I really appreciate your affirming words ...

      Grace, grace.

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  6. So glad you have found a place that's even better, Linda. And I love the pictures.

    For me, well...

    First thing that came to mind was Joe Walsh's classic song, "Life's Been Good To Me So Far".

    "It's tough to handle this fortune and fame,
    everybody's so different, I haven't changed."

    In the past few years I've been pushed and pushed and pushed, and no more. I'll stand here, with everything intact, even if I stand in failure.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/01/your-dying-spouse-438-no-hope-but-this.html

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    1. Mmm ... I don't see you standing in failure, friend. I picture you as victorious ...

      Lean hard into Jesus right now. He's going to carry you through.

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  7. What a beautiful journey you are on. All of us are on. We just don't always recognize it with such insight. Thanks for sharing how seasons may look different, but they're still all good.

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    1. You're so right, Lisa ... we're all on a journey and we get to decide how we're going to look at those valleys as well as the mountaintops.

      Glad to be walking alongside you ...

      ;-}

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  8. Thanks for this encouragement, Linda! I'm glad that you're enjoying your new life and the quieter pace so much. Transitions are not easy but I agree, we need to stay focused on what's ahead and know when we're being called to let go of the past.

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    1. I absolutely agree, Lesley, transitions are not easy. I hear that it takes 18 - 24 months to transition after a move. It took much longer for me for lots of reasons.

      And I'm pretty sure that other people would have the same tale to tell ...

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  9. First, you've been on my mind the past few days. No reason, just thinking of you. Then this arrived in email a few hours ago and it reads like my life these days. We are at that in between place in life, here and there, with a countdown ticking in my head for when the titles will be laid down. I hear you so clearly, friend. xx

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    1. Well, that makes two of us. I thought of you after I hit the publish button. So grateful to travel through this season of life with far-off friends like you, Debby.

      Blogging and online friends were one of the few things that didn't change through the transition ... what a huge encouragement when everything was upside down and inside out, knowing that my blogging community remained steady and faithful and came along for the ride.

      I'm so grateful ...

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  10. He longs to do a new thing within us. Such comforting and hopeful words! I hadn't realized you had gone through all that change Linda. Change can be seen as an adventure too, can't it? And knowing He is with us in every step even when we misstep can make the adventurous change oeaceful and enduring. Thanks for your encouraging words today!

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    1. Ah yes, Lynn, it was quite the year with the sudden death of my dad the day after we moved {my parents live 30 minutes from here}, followed by the death of our little grandson two months later.

      I didn't know if I was coming or going.

      But He did ..

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  11. I so much appreciate your words here, my friend. You are so right. I am just a little ahead of you in age and season of life and I laid down all those things three years ago at retirement...the titles, honors, opportunities, etc. on a church staff (as well as the challenges, long hours, and drama). But I had to lay it down so I could discover this new season He had for me in writing. Now my ministry extends beyond the boundaries of my office wall and acquaints me with people from hundreds of miles away like you!!❤️


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    1. Pam, I'm so glad you're here today because I know I'm following in your footsteps. I thought of you as I pieced this post together.

      And yes, I absolutely agree that we take who we are into our writing in this season ... what a grace.

      And oh yes, no more drama ... praise God!

      ;-}

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  12. Hi Linda,
    What insightful thoughts you've articulated, sharing your own journey. You've beautifully transitioned into the new and spacious place that God has brought you and I love it that you're thriving there! Sometimes we're willing and sometimes we're reluctant to move to the next place of promise but if we trust him and take the time to absorb and contemplate and consider, God shows himself faithful. This is one of my favorite posts of yours, Linda! xoxox

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    1. Your post last week was a huge encouragement to me as I was already writing and re-writing this in my head ... your sharing of Isaiah 43 spoke volumes to me.

      I shared your writing on my LinkedIn site and am happy to do so here, too ...
      http://www.gracewithsilk.com/2018/01/take-twilight-tour.html

      I'm thankful that you've spoken into my life at a pivotal time. Appreciate your wisdom and the beauty of your posts, Valerie ...

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  13. Your words were very deep and personal and private, and I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that our Lord will continue to use you for His honor and His glory, but in His own perfect timing!

    {via email}

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    1. Yeah, this has been a deep and hard and private journey. I wanted to be sure that no one was hurt or offended by my story.

      Thanks for letting me know that it came across as intended.

      xo

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  14. Powerful and well said.

    {via text}

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  15. My whole being is jumping up and down-shouting out "Amen! Amen! Amen!"
    Can you hear me all the way in southern California? All of your words are resonating deep in my soul!

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    1. Oh, Linda, your enthusiasm is simply contagious!

      How fun to have you join us! Welcome ...

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  16. Great post Linda. I love the picture of the gigantic tree across the walkway. I have found in my life that God puts small things in my path and sometimes it takes a gigantic tree in my path for Him to get my attention. We need to stop looking over our shoulder at what has been. The future is in front of us - who knows what His plans are for us....

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    1. It's interesting how they built that walkway to accommodate the nature of that tree's growth. You've gotta bend down, make yourself smaller, to continue on your way.

      Lessons there, I think.

      Maybe we can do that walk together some day!

      ;-}

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  17. You are so right, as always. It is hard to let go of who we are and to let ourselves be something bigger, smaller, or just different. Thank you for your encouragement!

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    1. You're absolutely right, Sarah ... smaller can be a refreshing choice. So very opposite from all that social media and our culture cheer on ...

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  18. Linda, this reminds me of when we were getting ready to move here 7 1/2 years ago. I didn't have as official a position as you had, but I was involved in various ministries, in charge of two of them (one much, much smaller than the other). The church had three buildings, and because of my various responsibilities I had keys to all of them. The day I turned in all my keys, I felt like soldiers you see in old movies who are ceremoniously stripped of their stripes. :-) My ministry has been more home-based now, with my m-i-l here. It's different, but I do enjoy the quieter pace. All the plans I had for the "empty nest years" have been put on hold, and I've had to repeatedly give them back to the Lord. If they're His desire for me, He will make a way and a time. If they're just my own ambitions, then they're better off shelved.

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    1. Barbara, those keys sure were symbolic weren't they! I had forgotten how much until you shared how it impacted you.

      And when you said, 'My ministry has been more home-based now,' I absolutely heard what you were saying for that's where I am, too. Adjustments and transitions take time. And yes, yes, some things remain shelved.

      And that's ok, isn't it ...

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  19. Linda, such a beautiful post. I'm finding that the things God allowed me to be/do in my past have helped me toward becoming who I am now. And I"m not done yet (as far as I know!). The things God's allowing in my life now--the trials, the joys, the heartaches--all chisel away pieces of who I am now, refining and reshaping me into that Phil 1:6 vision. He's completing the work He began in me. I am learning and becoming more whole as I walk forward, with eyes forward, with Him.

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    1. Jeanne, so true! We're not done yet! I needed that reminder today ... what's happening at the beginning of 2018 may completely change as that 'chiseling' continues.

      But ouch, that refining and reshaping hurts, doesn't it ...

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  20. I love that God's "character never wavers and His plans refuse to be thwarted." It gives me more stability in this life. No matter what, He is faithful and will help us through anything. I had a tough time accepting the limitations of chronic illness, and still do sometimes, but God is teaching me to embrace whatever season He has planted me in. When I focus on what I could do before, I miss the beauty of His presence today. I'm so glad you adjusted, and you are enjoying the season you are in, Linda. Thank you for this encouragement! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. What a beautiful truth you've uncovered, Trudy, that God's character gives us that stability we need ... especially during difficult seasons that seem to last forever, like chronic illness.

      That He is stable and strong and solid gives us a safe place to lean into, to lean on when we're feeling weak and vulnerable.

      Thanks for the reminder today!

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  21. Thank you for your beautiful wisdom. Looking forward leads us ever closer to God and what was can pull us away. Your meandering of words gave me pause to reflect on my own life and know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I also know that God has so much more to accomplish in and through me. Exciting and scary!!! I appreciate you more than you know.

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    1. Mary, you're one of the friends I thought of when I was writing this, watching as you've weathered a number of transitions in recent years. You've taught us all when brave courage looks like ... and that's something I always find in short supply in my own life.

      Thanks for the way you guide us onward and upward, friend ...

      ;-}

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  22. Funny, As I contempkate and pray about leading alongside another in a Celebrate Recovery step study, I have to look back in order to relate. As I look back, the first 50 years of my life where filled with one trial after another but thankfully, God has redeemed the pain and suffering. I have entered into a fabulous era of joy, contentment and healing so hopefully the next whatever time I have left, will prove to do what you mentioned: “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 never want to stop giving and growing. Linda, thanks for introducing me to CR over 10 yrs a ago!!!! Maybe God has more to work on in me and through me. Yipppeeee

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    1. Gee, has it been a decade? Boy, talk about a healthy community. No doubt, CR was the best community I've ever been in. Period.

      Broken, honest, redeemed, joyful.

      So fabulous.

      And this? “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.”

      Well, that's what you've done for me repeatedly over the decades. I wouldn't be who I am without your faithful, wise presence in my life. I'm so grateful, dear friend.

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    2. As I re-read this blog, it is stirring up my possible need to retire and get on with another chapter. What do I fear? I think isolation and failure in where I want to go with writing. Pam’s comment of layin* all down to discover a new season in writing jumped out at me BUT my ability to hear what God wants is always so faint or vague.

      10 years has flown by and you, my friend, have given me hope and inspiration of what it is to follow after God. Love ya

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    3. And sometimes, Carol, He speaks through other people telling you yes, it's ok, step out on a limb, here's my story and maybe it'll encourage you to be brave.

      It's ok to move ahead.

      All will be well ...

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  23. One thing I've learnt in life is that if you walk always looking behind you sooner or later you'll hit a lamp post or a tree.

    Another thing I've learnt. God always wants us to be where we are at a given point in time. Where you are now in life, geographically as well as literally, is where God wants you to be. Without perhaps knowing it, you are touching other peoples' lives. As God wants.

    God bless.

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    1. Explains all the dents in our heads, yes?

      Your caution is a good heads up, friend. And no pun intended.

      ;-}

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  24. I'm breathing a sigh of relief after reading this. We have some big transitions ahead next summer, and I've been feeling nostalgic over what I'm afraid to lose and leave behind. You're reminding me: it's all good. (My way of saying, "It is well with my soul."

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    1. It's all good.

      Yes.

      He's got this.

      And I think we'll talk about transitions next. Whatcha think?

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  25. Did you write this for me? I feel like God had you write this for me. Thank you for breathing life into my soul today sweet one. xoxo

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    1. After reading your story, I think I hear what you're saying, Nicki. The transition you're making your way through is daunting indeed. My heart aches for what you've been through.

      I can't help but think that writing is going to comfort you and give you renewed hope. I'm alongside you ...

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  26. I am learning what we think as an ending is often a new great beginning. That gives me hope. And we are not our roles, we are beloved children of God. Took me until the second half of life to begin to accept that and to be honest, still struggle fully knowing and living from that place. great post!

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    1. I like that, Jean! 'A new great beginning.' Amazing how just a bit of recalibration can turn things upside down.

      And I agree ... much of what I've learned has been in the 2nd half of life. I guess we have to make a whole bunch of mistakes along the way to realize what matters most.

      Hope your weekend's a lovely one ...

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  27. Great post.. I usually have a hard time with change - gradual or sudden. Letting go can be hard sometimes... - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. And boy, are you in a season of change! Here's to navigating it well and with joy.

      ;-}

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  28. You wrote so eloquently about a change in your life that left you wondering where your focus in life needs to be. I've always said that once things change, they're never the same again, and that goes for any kind of change it seems. Yet how mightily God can still use you in this new change in your life, sometimes it takes a while to see just how, but you will. I said earlier today to someone... God's ways are always best, but they are not always the easiest way. As you try to find the focus for the new place you are in, I know without a doubt that God's hand is in it all, and I pray the focus becomes clear and refined in your heart and mind. I've faced such change myself, several times throughout life, and never is it an easy path, but in the end, you can reach a place where you turn around, look back, and feel quite grateful and thankful in your heart for that change. Blessings to you today dear friend!

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    1. Ain't that the truth. Once those big changes happen, everything morphs ... sometimes rapidly, other times at a snail's pace. It's those quick changes that tend to throw us ... and maybe we need that so we lean into God's grace a whole lot more.

      Marilyn, thanks for sharing a bit of wisdom here this weekend.

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  29. I'm so glad you are loving your new life, Linda! I know it was a bit of a rocky start :( A 180 type of change happened for me about 6 years ago. My life, my world is so completely different now and I was so changed through the experience of what changed everything that I look back on the previous years as a completely different life. There are lessons in the past, of course, but like you, I prefer to focus further on and further in! Wonderfully insightful and inspiring post, my friend!

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    1. Oh June, those 180 experiences are so dynamic, complex ... they often take our breath away, literally.

      But if we survive (and we usually do), a fresh outlook often emerges. And we're never the same ...

      And I'm thinking that's exactly the way God planned it to be.

      ;-}

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Dear Reader ~

Technical glitches happen.

* sigh *

Doesn't seem to be a place to leave your comment? Or your comment doesn't show up within an hour or so?

I'd love if you'd email me your contribution ... I'd be delighted to hand post it as soon as possible.

lindastoll @ juno . com

My apologies. And thanks for the grace ...

Linda