Updated: Nov 11, 2020
It's been a long, long while since I last published a post on the Blog. I guess you could say I've been in a transition season, a bit of a spiritual pilgrimage, if you will. And after the last year, I'm more convinced than ever before that it's truly impossible to be healthy when we are spiritually unhealthy. Everything, ultimately, hinges on our spiritual health. Our spiritual health impacts our emotional health, most obviously, which, in turn, affects our mental and physical health. Which, as I'm sure many of you know, affects our relational and vocational health. Which, then impacts both our financial and communal health.
Did you catch that?
The level of our spiritual health directly and indirectly impacts every single other facet of our health. Throughout the last year, I realized just how much it was true in my own life.
For me, the year of soul-searching was not about the big spiritual questions of whether there is a God, or whether God is good. I already believed those things. I had been enjoying the freedom of being forgiven for years. Yet, despite having spiritual peace, my soul was filled with untended wounds. I was in dire need of some soul care.
(rewind to September 2019)
As I sent my resume and cover letter off into cyberspace, I felt a wave of satisfaction knowing I was a good candidate for the job. There's a good chance there was a bit of arrogance mixed up in that wave as well. I was proud of what I had accomplished throughout my career thus far, and I fully anticipated those accomplishments would coast me into whatever job I chose next. Just to be clear, optimism is not typically my thing. I definitely tend to be a glass half empty type of person. So, to feel so sure of an outcome was definitely not my norm. I never count my chickens before the eggs hatch, yet, there I was, counting away. Almost immediately, I received a reply that I had been selected for an interview. And, aside from my legs sweating profusely to the chair during the interview, it went well. I left feeling at peace with whatever the outcome was going to be. What I didn't realize was that I actually had peace because of the certainty I felt about getting the position. I had peace with my plans. I had peace with my direction for the future. You can imagine what a surprise it was, then, when the call came and instead of "congratulations" I was on the receiving end of an "I'm sorry it's not going to work out to hire you" conversation.
Rejection is such a tricky emotion.
And until that moment, I had no idea how ill-equipped I was in dealing with disappointment. It quickly became evident that I had some unresolved issues that desperately needed to be worked through. It was an ugly couple of weeks. I felt like a failure, inadequate, foolish, unskilled, like someone who had nothing worth contributing to anyone. I now know none of those thoughts were rooted in truth, but at the time, they felt very real, and seemed entirely valid and justified. Not getting hired for a job would typically not have knocked me back so hard, but the job rejection was the capstone to a whole slew of disappointments I had never actually taken the time to process. As I worked through these feelings throughout the last year, I discovered I was looking in all the wrong places for my identity. Which brings me back to spiritual health. I'm sure many of you have heard of social scientist Brené Brown. She is a brilliant leader in the field of healing from shame and dysfunctional thinking. I love what she has to say about difficult disappointments. In one of her books, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she writes, "If we want to be able to move through the difficult disappointments, the hurt feelings, and the heartbreaks that are inevitable in a fully lived life, we can't equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging and joy. If we do, we'll never show up and try again."
I realized that is what I was doing, what I had been doing for my entire adult life. I had been equating disappointment and rejection with being unworthy of love, unworthy of joy. And I had gotten myself to a point of not wanting to show up or try again. Which, might I add, is not a good place to be.
“I had been equating disappointment and rejection with being unworthy of love, unworthy of joy. And I had gotten myself to a point of not wanting to show up or try again.”
Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was part of a small community of women whose encouragement and friendship carried me through that season. We were reading through a book together called Soul Care, and the first chapter was focused completely on identity. Through our time together I realized so much of my identity was tied to how things turned out, how I was perceived by others, how I felt. All things that are not secure in the slightest. We don't control how things turn out. We don't control how we are perceived by others. And we don't control how we feel. Yes, we certainly do have control over what we do with our feelings. But we don't have much control over what we feel. The more I understood this, the more I was able to see how I had gotten to a place of such insecurity. I, essentially, didn't know who I was.
...to be continued...