To manage expectations, I do not know how to maneuver a sailboat. I am also on a roadtrip, not on a sailboat. I am, however, a huge fan of being out on the water or at the beach so perhaps there is room for that. Sailing sounds wonderful as long as there is someone else who knows what they are doing.
For the purposes of this blog, I will be using sailing as a metaphor.
Recently, I took a step back from the hurry and hustle of my daily life to enter into a time of sabbatical. Rest is not something that comes easily for me. I’m a doer. If I’m not working, I’m doing projects at home, volunteering, studying, or thinking about what I want to get done. I have no idea what this sabbatical time is going to look like, and I have to admit that I am a little nervous. I need a plan, I need it now, and there has to be activity involved. This seems to fly in the face of what I imagine a sabbatical looks like. Don’t people who go on sabbatical retreat to some lonely, isolated location to get away from everyone and everything? I freely admit this feels like a self-enforced time-out. Those of my friends who have successfully gone on sabbatical advise me to be patient with the process. God works in his own timing.
So, I packed up my pup in the car, and we headed westward. I knew it would be an adventure because he is not necessarily a fan of cars. My hope for this sabbatical time is to create space to seek God more actively in my daily routine, to be still before him, and to become more aware of his presence. I also want to take time to process some of the heartbreak I’ve recently experienced, and really listen to what my mind, body, soul, and strength are telling me. They have been clamoring for my attention in the form of restlessness, difficulty sleeping, stress weight gain, elevated blood pressure, and unfamiliar aches and pains. As I go into this time, I remind myself that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and that practicing discipline in self-care is crucial if I am to have any kind of energy to offer others.
Sailing into a Headwind
So far, I have misplaced my favorite sunglasses, gotten lost a few times, and have had moments where a fearfulness about the future has zapped my motivation and led to procrastination. While my pup has been a trooper, he is not eating normally which has caused some worry. A fear of failure temporarily sapped my strength earlier this week as my thoughts wandered to past experiences where I stepped out in faith only to fall flat on my face. I also thought of past times when I allowed my own discontent to lead me to break off relationships, distract myself, or “numb out” in an effort to feel better. Reminder to self (and anyone reading this): None of these really ever work over the long haul.
Fix Your Eyes on the Destination
But here’s the thing: Instead of avoiding them, I allowed myself to sit with those uncomfortable emotions of fear, disorientation, and lack of motivation rather than putting on a happy face to make others more at ease. I brought them to God. As I did, I developed a curiosity about each emotion and traced it back to my thoughts. I used movement to create a safe space to let both thoughts and emotions to bubble up. What was so precious to me that I felt like I was losing? Security? Relationship? My precious self-image?
I reminded myself I long ago made a firm decision to not let my feelings direct my behavior and habits. But I also viewed these feelings through the light of grace, knowing that I am deeply and wholly loved by the God of the universe despite whatever feeling was coming up. In the safety of that space, I thanked God for the emotions that I felt because they are indicators to help me identify what is really going on in my heart and soul. As I examined these feelings, I prayed and journaled through them. I took my pup for long walks in the park. I sought wisdom from a friend; I sought God for comfort, healing and for change. I prayed for fresh mercies and that I would not repeat past mistakes.
And you know what? The following days were better days. It really is true that God’s mercies are new each morning. It doesn’t mean that I won’t have any more bad days ever again; I most certainly will. But each day is given to us as an opportunity for a fresh start. Each moment we can make a different decision; Our life experience does not have to be the most powerful influence on our future. The God of the Bible is the faithful God whose compassion never fails. He is good to those who put their hope in him (Lamentations 3:21-25).
My heart feels at ease again with the changes, my physical health indicators are starting to improve, and my motivation is slowly coming back. God’s peace is returning in my soul.
When the wind is coming straight at you, you need to adjust the sails. You learn that sailing straight ahead into a headwind is what sailors call the “no go” zone. It is not an option even when you can see your destination close by on the horizon. So, you make the necessary adjustments in order to stay on course.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Photo credit: mihtiander on istock.com.
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