This morning, I was reflecting back to last year. Just before I left my job.
What had I prayed for, prior to being led by God to leave my job?
Well, it occurred to me that, despite all my health issues – weakness, fatigue, headaches, and many more symptoms (which I had before I was avoiding quite this many foods), I have found at least one thing in this difficult season:
God heard me.
And he answered.
He answered by allowing me to get sick enough that I had no choice but to rest.
Sometimes, the answer doesn’t look like we think it might.
But the answer always has God’s fingerprints on it.
And in this season of rest, I have learned so many things.
I’ve learned that money cannot buy happiness, contentment, or fulfillment. (You probably hear that all the time, but it’s hard sometimes to completely believe it until you experience financial loss or struggles yourself. I didn’t realize just how hooked I was on money and the stuff it could buy – how dependent I was on some paper and plastic for my comfort and my sense of security and worth – until I was compulsorily unhooked.)
I’ve learned that joy can be found in – or through – personal financial poverty.
I’ve learned that I am rich, even though I’m practically broke.
Learned to appreciate things I took for granted when I was receiving a paycheck every other week.
Learned to cut my own hair – with layers, framing, the whole bit – because I wanted to save some money. (It took lots of time and tweaking, but was also pretty fun to do.)
Learned not to rely on food for emotional comfort (as there are few “comfort foods” I can eat now).
Learned just how amazing my close friends are. They haven’t abandoned me in a difficult time.
Learned what a supportive family I have.
Learned a ton about genetics, food, health, vitamins, nutrition, and more about the connections between mental health and all of these things.
Learned that independence is an illusion. We are never truly independent financially, as all things come from God, and paychecks are typically issued by an employer. This perspective has helped me to be less embarrassed or disappointed in myself as I am required to depend on others financially, at least for a while. It has been a struggle not to feel like I am a burden on them. But when I remember that God is providing for them, too – that He is the source of all that they have as well as of all that I have – I no longer worry for them or feel quite so bad. God will give each of us what we need, and all money is His anyway. From a certain perspective, money is not really theirs or really mine. All things are God’s. So if we receive from another’s hand, we are receiving from them what is God’s. And God will bless the person who has chosen to be His conduit of financial provision.
Learning to let go of my desire for a superficial identity or social “status”. I cannot claim an estimable social status for myself (such as a high level of education or prestigious career), and have no means (energy, money, health) of procuring anything like that for myself right now.
Learning to lean more on Jesus for wisdom, peace, and fellowship.
To the gift of rest that I requested, God has added:
Healing (especially emotional healing, but also physical healing and answers in some ways).
And even some practical skills.
Earlier this year, I was very anxious and frustrated. I was still striving and trying so hard to become something or someone and to do things for which I had little strength. Still trying to live up to my own or others’ expectations. Society’s expectations.
And I continued to watch my objectives and goals slip further out of my reach.
God was telling me to just be still.
To just focus on my health for a while.
To practically “do nothing”.
This message grates very strongly against the American way. The American way is to keep busy, keep moving, keep doing, keep achieving, keep climbing.
No. Just be still, Kate.
This is what I have for you in this season.
But what will others think of me?
What does that matter, Kate?
And soon, I had no choice but to be still.
To continue to fight to “do” or “accomplish” much of anything became like spinning my wheels in a rut.
I was getting nowhere, and only exhausting myself more.
I even lost my ability to study (something I had been doing seriously for several months. Sometimes 8-12 hour days, 4-6 days a week).
My brain began to shut down.
God does not waste anything.
It all gets recycled and redeemed, to teach us things and to bring us to new places of fulfillment and richness.
Richness in the sense of financial wealth? Perhaps not always.
We become rich by discovering the treasures that were always there – but formerly hidden.
In my stillness – prescribed by God, the Great Physician – I have gained many riches and witnessed many wonders that I might have missed, had I had the opportunity to keep moving.
And I’ve noticed that the more I seek Him – and spend my time on the few things He seems to want me to do right now – the more I excel at those things.
The more I put Him first and stop fighting His plans, the more I see my brain and cognitive function return.
As I keep my eyes on Him – and let Him direct with His map, I’m also again finding inspiration, a passion in what I do, and joy that surpasses my circumstances.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians
Funny. Somehow I feel more free and independent now than I ever have.
– The Bleeding Blogger