06 May 2011

Emotional Stability in Seasons of Change

Dear Lissy,
There will be many times in your life when you're faced with new responsibilities.  College, marriage, a new job, a new baby are just a few of the changes you may face.  It was in God's plan for me to work under a man who was not only a godly example, but also had great wisdom.  One day he found me overwhelmed and in tears and gave me this "pep talk".  Mr. C's wise words have grown through other godly counsel and saved me from a world of emotional turmoil many times over the years.
There are 3 phases that everyone goes through when they change jobs or roles. 

Don't be discouraged by initial mistakes and failures...expect them!  Even though you have a desire to perform perfectly as a new wife or mom, or prove yourself to a new employer, 
you are going to make mistakes.
Each time you are hit with your own imperfect humanity, ask yourself:

What did I learn?

It's far easier to ask yourself, "How could I have done such a stupid thing?" or  "Why on earth didn't somebody warn me about this?"  Neither of those questions help.  At all.  Accept and admit your mistake, and get help to correct the situation as quickly as possible.

As you ease into your new role, you'll find yourself able to handle the routines of the position easily.   Mistakes will become fewer and farther apart.  Life will feel "normal" again.  
It's easy to coast here forever, never rising above the status quo.  The next question to ask yourself is,

Am I faithfully serving?

The temptation as life levels off is to focus on the 20% of the work that provides 80% of the return.  Periodically take time away and evaluate yourself in light of Scripture.  Give to your husband or employer "as unto the Lord" -- 110%.  You can get by on the bare minimum for a long time, but eventually that mentality will hurt, not help, you and those you serve.

It's also tempting to perform tasks that give you personal recognition and praise at the expense of your duties. The neighbor that gets a basket of cookies will shower you with "Oh, you shouldn't have!  You're so sweet!". Blessing your neighbors is important, but not if your husband is bobbing for socks because you made cookies instead of folding and putting away the laundry.  You won't have your husband cooing over your diligence and sweetness by keeping his sock drawer in good order, but you will have pleased the Lord.

One other temptation I've commonly seen and experienced is a desire to use the extra time and energy pursuing my own pleasure and goals.  It's far more enjoyable to curl up with a good book, call a friend, or blog-hop than clean out a closet.  There's no problem relaxing and refreshing your body and spirit, but like everything else, maintain a balance.

Remember how you wanted to impress your new husband, be the perfect mommy, or wow your employer?  Here's where that finally happens!  At some point the 110% you were giving will become habit, and you'll find yourself with even more time and talent than your role requires.  Now comes the fun question:

Who can I bless and how can I bless them?

There will always be people in your circle of influence who are overwhelmed.  Can you take one or more of their responsibilities to ease their burden?  The temptation, whether you're at a new office or enjoying a new little one is to bless and serve yourself with your extra time and talent.  A life lived for yourself is no life at all, but you don't find that out until the end.  Trust me on this one, Sweetie...give it away.  Your time, your talents, your love all multiply and return to you when you pour them out on others.

Be diligent to find out how best to bless someone.  You may feel that making your husband a special dinner is a big blessing (and it is!) but taking the extra hour to mow the lawn instead might be higher on his list that day.  Don't assume, ask!

Don't be discouraged if a role grows with your abilities and you have far more "norming" than "performing" days.  It's also not unusual to have a few stormy days return when responsibilities increase in a role you've already mastered.

No matter what changes come in your platform, you always have the same purpose:  to glorify God.
 When you are faithfully spending time in His Word and prayer, he will sustain you through the stormy times, reward your faithfulness during the normal days, and direct you how and where to bless as you soar into performing your role.    

Love you ALL the time,