I chatted with a sister from community this afternoon, someone who is living a life of service, and she shared with me how freeing it was to admit that she was no longer happy with what she was doing. She had tried to convince herself for far too long that she was happy, but the moment she became honest, a huge burden was lifted off her chest.
Some people complain all the time and refuse to be in situations that pose any amount of difficulty. This sister has given her time, talents, and skills, to worthwhile endeavors, and after decades, is finally thinking of her own life and her own future.
Reflecting on the sister's life, I wondered what it was that made it difficult for me to admit whenever I was tired, hurt, or disappointed. By the time I had come to terms with those feelings, the people who had caused them were already gone, and the situations that gave rise to them were already snowed under by seemingly "more important" supervening events.
In the context of service, I tended to think that my opinion did not count, and my leaders knew better all the time.
For a process person, it showed my selectivity in confronting conflict. I justified people's behavior. I gave blindly and excessively when I could, until I hit a sign that said "Danger: Burnout".
What could have happened had I learned to say "Ouch" when I was being stretched and pushed and ignored? What could have been mine had I mustered enough confidence to claim who I was - my true talents, gifts, skills, desires, dreams, hopes, and wants?
A friend of mine said I had trouble with honesty. I said I had just learned to bury some thoughts and to stay with the more acceptable ones.
Now, a few years later, I have realized just how much a certain situation had squeezed me dry, and what actually led to that. I'm relieved to see that I did not waste months of discernment. What I heard before - the call - was crystal clear. How I acted upon the call was a different story.
Perhaps it is too late to change the past. I am here, in the present, embracing a new life, and yet my eyes, my hands, my thoughts, and my heart still belonged elsewhere.
From now on, I will speak out more. I will trust what my heart is telling me. I will believe how much God loves me. I will love others better if I love God and myself properly. Tall order, really.
Another important lesson learned in the classroom of adversity.