Seasons in life are rarely solely about what you think they’re about.
Last August, I had just gotten through my first year of being totally self-employed after eleven years at a salaried job. I left that job to pour my time and effort into the music I create with my husband. When I surrendered my old career, though, I lost a lot more than my salary.
I lost part of my identity as a teacher.
I lost the confidence of knowing how to do my job.
I lost the familiarity of routine.
I lost daily human interaction.
I lost coworkers to laugh and commiserate with.
Later that year, I lost harmony with my best friend.
I lost my perception of reality surrounding my family.
I lost the ability to process all of these changes and stresses myself.
I lost the illusion of success.
I lost my hustle.
I lost the bubbly parts of my personality.
I lost the feelings of excitement and joy.
I lost the will to get out of bed some mornings.
When God wants to rebuild your heart, he doesn’t just focus on one part. This renovation went after much more than new paint colors and carpet. It stripped me down to the studs.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV
Jesus’s invitation to the rich young ruler always made my chest feel tight. It’s become clear to me that I held a tighter grip on my life than I had thought. God led me to a place of soul-defining faith – of choosing whether to follow his prompting to leave behind a comfortable life for something much less guaranteed. He gave me the opportunity to actually act in a way that demonstrated my trust in him, rather than just lip service. I obeyed and followed. I knew trusting him with my vocation would be hard, but I was not prepared for him to strip away so much else in the process. Letting go of the many things I clung to throbbed and ached inside.
And yet. In the clearing and the loss, just as sprouts start to grow back after a forest fire does its job, I gained a few things.
I reached the limits of my self-sufficiency.
I received an education on what depression and anxiety can look and feel like.
I gained a slow certainty that while this felt like hell, God had not forgotten me.
I received moments of hearing directly from God in crisis.
I became more accustomed to failing.
I learned how to get back up when I did.
I gained an appreciation for what a good therapist is capable of.
I got perspective on the reasons behind my habits over the last decade.
I learned about what trauma really is and how it impacts our thinking and decisions.
I rediscovered what it means to feel like myself.
I gained respect for how appropriate medication can restore balance.
I rediscovered my love of nature and walking.
I became able to run a mile without stopping to walk.
I regained my love of reading.
I learned how to give myself grace. And forgive myself.
I gained resilience.
I gained a coworker when my husband left his part-time job to come on board with our band full-time.
I received motivation from having another person in the room with me.
I received more encouragement in divinely-appointed moments than any other time in my life.
I received more clear communication from God than ever before.
I received notes and pictures of what God was doing in others’ lives through our songs.
I learned that just because something gets hard, it doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong thing.
I received more and more opportunities to take risks and trust God.
I got more comfortable taking those risks with every subsequent “yes.”
I learned. And I grew. And because I had been emptied, I could receive.
We set out to make music our career for a season. Yet, this season has been about so much more than that. Music is being made, but more importantly, I am being made into more of the person God created me to be. I am becoming healed and whole. However hard it has been, it has been so worth it. I would not trade it for an easier path.
May we release ourselves from the things we need to lose in order to gain what we could never buy for ourselves.
You can find Wild Harbors’ music and read more about their journey together at WildHarbors.com.