“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”
It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:
Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…
…just to name a few.
Entering a New Season
Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.
Then came the day, four years ago, when my husband and I decided it was best that I leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:
Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…
…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.
I felt robotic.
I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.
My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.
What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.
Using this Season of Life
Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!
This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.
Learning How to Just Be
Within the first few months into this new role as a mom, I finally realized that if I didn’t slow down and carve out alone time with God, I would sink even deeper in this place where I felt utterly stuck. I needed to learn how to just be.
I need to learn how to be present. God didn’t need me to DO anything for Him because Jesus had done so much for me already so that I could simply spend time with the Father- now and forever in eternity.
Why would I rush through this life frantically trying to cross things off my task list for the sake of productivity if I allow it all to steal my peace and joy?
Slowly, I learned how to stop going through the motions just for the sake of accomplishment and became intentional about staying mentally present. I made sure that quiet time spent with the Lord was a top priority. He was the only One who could restore my soul from the stresses of the daily demands of being at stay-at-home mom and wife. I chose to breathe it all in and enjoy every moment with my son and my husband, no matter how big or small it seemed, knowing that it would pass so quickly. It was then that I began to experience genuine peace and joy.
An Issue of Mis-Identification
I thought I was getting the hang of this whole “being” business, until God took it to the next level when He convicted my husband and I’s hearts that we needed to search for a sound, Biblical church (you can read about that initial experience of coming out of deception here), thus, removing whatever titles or ministry roles I still attempted to find my identity in and busy myself with. No more worship team, no more prayer meetings, no more church leadership conference calls, no more preparing messages for the youth group, no more drama team rehearsals.
Once again, I felt stuck. I felt so out of sorts. I felt so void of purpose because I no longer had all of these extra responsibilities to fill my plate. Clearly, I still had this huge issue of mis-identification, asking God why, when, how, wondering what this sense of void really was all about and if it would ever go away. Why couldn’t I find contentment in the waiting, in the process, in the stand-still? Why was it so hard to “just be” and trust God was at work in and through my life even when it looked like nothing was happening?
Yielding to the Hands of the Potter
In this season, God stripped me of all of those wrong labels that I was trying to identify myself with by completely removing me from activities and ministry positions. He even removed certain desires and passions, like my writing, which was starting to pick up speed since my book had just released several months prior to this big life change.
It took me two years to finally yield to the hands of the Potter and give him every label and title I have ever held onto and see Him smash them to smithereens with is mallet, y’all. That’s a long time to wrestle with God, but thankfully, as He always does, He won that match! I finally surrendered it all over to God.
Learning Whose I Am
Sure, there were times that I felt like I had lost myself.
But through the process of losing myself, just like Jesus tells us, I found the life God created for me to live.
“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39, NKJV
In the season of “barrenness” and stillness, I discovered my true purpose and identity, a daughter of the Most High God.
It’s so incredibly simple, but it is at the core of the gospel—The Father gave His only Son for the whole world so that those who would believe on Him would never spiritually die but have everlasting life, experiencing restored fellowship with their Heavenly Father (John 3:16).
Those who embrace Jesus and put their trust in Him are given the right to be called children of God! There is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn that position. We can’t work for it. It isn’t based upon our accomplishments or performance; it’s based on Jesus’ performance on the Cross! All that is required of us is faith in Jesus Christ…and we don’t even have to work for that either! God freely gives us that faith as a gift! When we embrace Jesus, the Father embraces us!
Children of God
In Christ, we are God’s children and our purpose is to stand in that identity and tell others the good news that they can have that right, too, through Jesus Christ (John 1:12).
It’s from that place as children of God, in Christ, that we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).
Did you catch that: have our BEING, not that we now can have our doing!
Finding Peace and Rest
Although it is so easy to get caught up in fully understanding our individual purpose, I don’t believe what we do while here on this earth is God’s main concern. I believe His main concern for us is that we know whose we are!
You may feel “stuck” right now and feel like you aren’t doing much of anything of value for God, but I am here to tell you that being a child of God is the greatest position you will ever stand in! Today, find peace and rest in believing you have purpose just by being that!