Where were you one year ago from today? And how did you see yourself in a year?A year ago today, I was married just over a year and living in Santa Barbara less than a year. My husband and I were still looking for a church community and I had been unsuccessfully applying for jobs in the area to supplement the part-time work I was already doing from home. I was still recovering from an intense season of burnout and had just undergone a series of medical tests to rule out any medical contribution to my extreme and prolonged fatigue. I would have described myself as tired and isolated but also happy as a newlywed. At that point, I couldn’t summon the energy to project into the future very far and could not imagine what would come a year from then. I knew I would still be married, and I hoped we wold be moving to a different area of the country–preferably one with a lower cost of living and a different community/church environment. The energy I did have I put into building my blog platform and shaping my voice at Holistic Body Theology Blog. I alternated between feeling invested and successful at blogging and feeling drained and like I was wasting my time. Sometimes I felt ready to close it down altogether because I wasn’t getting the return I wanted for all the energy I invested in writing.
Where are you today? What has actually changed from where you saw yourself? Today I am in a very different place. My energy level is at about 80-90%, and I have learned by trial and error how to carefully balance life’s demands so that my energy can sustain me throughout the day. I am still married and loving every minute. We passed the two-year mark and are officially boring married people now and no longer newlyweds. I’m still living in the same tiny studio apartment after a couple of almost-moves out of the area, and it does not look like we will be moving anytime soon. This means I will very likely continue to be without a real community of God that I can invest in as my husband and I have as yet been unsuccessful in finding a good fit. What I certainly could not imagine a year ago was that I would go through a training program to become a spiritual director. That was a whirlwind experience but also very rich and stretching. Now I’m in a place of discerning what effect (if any) this training will have on my blog and online presence and whether I will open up a spiritual direction practice or just use what I’ve learned int he positions I already hold.
Where do you see God’s blessings?I see that God was giving me the time and opportunity I needed to really rest and recover in a way that I would never have allowed myself if I had stayed single or stayed living in Pasadena where I had more work opportunities. I think I would have probably ended up being hospitalized because I would have literally worked myself to that desperate state. Even though I was discouraged at not having more work or more of a community to be involved in, I see those circumstances now as preparing me to come to the place of pursuing spiritual direction. If i had been busier and more satisfied in my current setting, I would not have begun asking the deep questions and sensing the restlessness that led to going to Arizona for training. I also think if I had given up on my blog sooner, I would have missed out on some connections I’ve made through it that I hadn’t expected. Those connections encouraged me to keep writing and keep stretching myself. I learned that it doesn’t take much to motivate me to try again or not to give up, but I do need confirmation and encouragement from my community to keep giving my all.
What advice or inspirational words can you give to someone in your same position?There are so many directions I could take this question.
I would say, listen to your body, to your desires, and to your community.
If you need to rest, then rest. If you need to push onward, keep going.
If you need to take a different path, have courage! You know more than you think you do.
You are more capable than you think you are. There is more in you ready to be realized. Be gentle with yourself.
Walk the path where your fear is. Keep walking until you move through the fear into the life that has been waiting for you.
Invite silence that creates space for God to speak. Be listening.