When You Need to Walk Away
Sometimes following God’s lead and “taking our next step with Jesus” means taking a step away from something you’re already involved in. Maybe it’s even something you believe in and know is good and important. Or something you’re worried will fall apart if you dare to let it go.
I had to do that this week. I had to sit with a group of women I really treasure, as we met to plan out a ministry I really believe in, which affects a bunch of women I really love and care about… and I had to say “I need to step back from this— at least for a bit.”
I simply have too much on my plate right now. It’s not possible to handle it all well anymore. Something has to give or I and my family relationships are going to snap. And, unfortunately, as I have prayed extensively about what to do and how to shift things around, this one particular ministry responsibility keeps consistently coming up in my heart as the one area in which I feel God calling me away from.
“But who will do it if I leave???” I have asked Him. I logistically couldn’t see who else might have both the passion and skill and time and relationship connection and DESIRE to fill my shoes right away. Yet “right away” is exactly how soon I felt like I needed to transition out. But because of the details I assumed would overwhelm me in a transition like this, I have basically been just telling myself “Oh, never mind! I’ll just figure out a way to muscle through this until this particular responsibility is over.” There are only four weeks left, for goodness’ sake.
But the truth is: I could no longer deny the fact that this particular responsibility was starting to make me feel ill. I was literally getting nauseous every time I thought about how intense the next four weeks were going to be for me. And not just because of this particular area of responsibility. In all my other circles of influence as well. Everything is kind of coming to a head right now and it has become increasingly clear that it is all just too much for one person to handle. I simply don’t have the emotional, physical, or spiritual capacity for anything else right now.
I felt like I was at a breaking point.
“I’ll take care of it,” God kept reassuring me.
For weeks I’ve been wrestling with this. And then, finally, I woke up Monday morning and just knew “Today is the day I have to round table my honest feelings about all of this with my team.” I had no idea how it would play out, or how annoyed or angry anyone would be with me for bringing it up, but I just knew I had to, at the very least, let the girls know my thoughts and get their insight on it.
But I sure felt sick at the thought of how they might view me afterwards. Would they think me a quitter? Would they be disappointed in me? Would they think I was a weakling who couldn’t hack it? Would they blacklist me from ever helping out in this capacity in the future?
I admit it: I was afraid.
A year ago I read Lysa Terkeurst’s “The Best Yes” and it resonated so deeply with me. Like Lysa, I, too, often find myself “confusing the command to love with the disease to please.”
So, after much prayer and the reassurance from God that He was, in fact, calling me to walk this path of courageous vulnerability with my team, I went into our meeting and did my best to muster up some courage and tell them how I was feeling. I wasn’t expecting any solutions to come out of it, I just knew I needed them to know how I was feeling.
As soon as I started talking, the tears welled up in my eyes and in just a moment they were pouring out. I was exhausted, frustrated with myself, disappointed that I “couldn’t handle it all,” and ashamed that I hadn’t spoken up until now.
And do you know what I was met with?
Not scorn. Not shame. Not piety or disdain or condescension or disappointment or frustration.
I was met with compassion. Empathy. Love. Acceptance. Affirmation. Encouragement.
Immediately, one of the gals stepped up and offered to take over for me. “I’ll do it,” she said. “No problem at all! I was planning on being there anyway to support you,” she said with a generous, encouraging smile on her face. “I can just take it from you. I’ll start tomorrow,” she declared.
Wait… what?!?! That’s it?!?
No “What is wrong with you, you stupid girl”? No “Why didn’t you speak up sooner”? No “You are so weak” or “I can’t believe what a slacker you are”?
Nope. None of that.
Just love. Just care. Just a willingness to come alongside me and carry my burden for me so that I can catch my footing again.
This. This is friendship. This is teamwork. This is being safe and valued and cared for— despite your flaws, your inadequacies, and your brokenness.
Thank You, Lord. Thank You for giving me the courage to follow Your lead and step back from something I love in order to make space for my own sanity and space for someone else to be free to step into what You have planned for her. Thank You for softening the hearts of these women on my team so that they were able to be so compassionate and loving towards me this week. What a relief. What a gift. Thank You for making it all work out.
[This is Day 26 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
P.S. In gratitude to all of you faithful readers who have been reading along during this challenge, DaySpring is offering one lucky reader a $100 Shopping Spree to Dayspring.com! Click here to enter yourself.
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What about you?
Where do you feel God leading you, nudging you, luring you? What is He stirring up in you to do, say, give, create, or pray about? When have you ever followed God’s lead into a place you were unsure or fearful about? What happened?
Please share your comments or your own story in the comment section below.