'So what do you do with yourself?'
*Cue silent scream and thoughts of rapidly exiting the room ('must dash...think I left the oven on!')*
The above question is admittedly not my favourite at the moment, having recently resigned from a job that had become far too mentally and emotionally draining. Ironically, lately I seem to encounter it at every point and turn.
I am finding this time to be more than a little challenging, and not just because of the woes of unsuccessful job hunting. However, challenges always bring opportunities for growth and learning, and having more than a little time to think, here are some lessons I'm learning during this socially frowned upon time of my life.
Your value is in who you are, not what you do
Last year I was working, studying my master's degree, and involved in fundraising. This not only kept me busy, but was something I could easily cling onto for validation and a sense of worthiness.Coming to the point of no longer having these things to hide behind has left me feeling extremely vulnerable.
'Am I enough?' is a question many of us are constantly asking ourselves and the world around us, whether weverbalise it or not. We work and strive, exhausting ourselves in the search for worthiness, when all the while it is written indelibly on our hearts by our Creator.
Brené Brown says, 'Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites'. In other words, there's nothing you can do to qualify for it. It doesn't change based on what you do or don't do. You are worthy of love and belonging simply because you're here, you're you, and God loves you. And that is enough.
We must live from this place of knowing our intrinsic value regardless of what we do. Without this foundation, we will always fall short and feel 'less than'. Valuing ourselves in this way also sets us up to love and value others, rather than pass judgement or value them according to what they do.
Resting is difficult to embrace, but vitally important
Some of my friends have reminded me that this time in my life is a great opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. While I know this to be true, I have found it very difficult to achieve.
In a western world geared towards working, striving, busyness and accumulating wealth, we are governed by our watches. You know the saying - 'time is money!'. Consequently, rest is given little value, and we are made to feel ashamed if we're not being heavily 'productive' with our time.
Rest forces us to stop, and keeps us from being swept up in a futile world of busyness which our culture so heavily encourages. We have to embrace it. Without it, our capacity for living and loving well diminishes as we become worn out.
Don't work yourself into an oblivion before you allow yourself to rest. Seek rest not because you 'earned it' but because you're worth it.Besides, it's been proven that rest actually improves your productivity.
Your heart is crying out for attention
After an intense few years of my life, I think my heart is rejoicing that I've finally paused to allow time for processing and healing (while my head is doing all the freaking out about being unemployed). As I have taken time to stop and rest, the cries of my heart have become easier to hear.
Our heart is the centre of who we are and the place where God resides. Isn't it crazy then, that we so often ignore it?!
Many of us disconnect from our hearts because we fear the pain that resides there.Unfortunately, in doing this we also disconnect ourselves from joy, hope and all of the other positive emotions.
If we want to live whole-hearted, abundant lives, we have to stay connected with what is going on inside of us. Pain points us to areas of our heart where love and words of truth are needed to heal.
When we have the courage to identify and bring our wounds into the light, shame cannot continue to bind us, and God begins to heal us as we bring him our pain and vulnerability.
For all of us, there can be a time for numbing ourselves to pain and just 'functioning', especially in regards to traumatic experiences or getting through certain seasons in life. As 'strong' as we can be to function throughout these painful experiences, we are not made to ignore or run from the pain forever.
We are wired for love, connection and belonging, but our deep wounds can hinder us from experiencing these things in their fullest. We must take courage, connect with our heart, and let God's light drive out all the darkness of our fear, hurt and shame.
No matter how deep your wounds are, God's love is deeper still.
'The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.' - Psalm 34:18
Bonnie loves all things old-fashioned, exploring new places, coffee with friends and being with her family. She is passionate about broken hearts and relationships being restored through the power of vulnerability and honesty with God and others. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies and a Master of International Public Health, and hopes to work in developing countries one day.
Bonnie Dowie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/bonnie-dowie.html