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When Quitting is Winning

My best friend made a comment that wouldn’t leave me alone. She’s a deep rooted soul, and sharply discerning. I swear she can see straight through to the core of anyone. It could be creepy; in fact, it is to some. But she’s also honest. And I love that about her. I’ve never felt like I have to pretend to be anything but my raw and quirky self, and that’s exactly who she wants me to be. We’re real and honest and pretty goofy together.

So when she drops a truth bomb in my lap, I pay attention. I may pout about it, but I do pay attention.

“There’s something you’re pushing against. I don’t know what it is, but you refuse it. You’re fighting something. It’s in your way and you can’t get around it.” We were having one of those conversations where I confessed losing hope. I was actively seeking the very Source of Hope, and yet still somehow drowning. I’ve written about the heavy storms my husband and I have been trying to weather. They’ve been unrelenting. And while this is no place to air my dirty laundry, it only seemed honest to express the suffocating nature of life’s hardships- Christ follower or not.

Yet for years, there seemed to be no break.
None. In fact, our circumstances were getting worse, sometimes by the day. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I wasn’t sure we would live through it.

So, I was caught off guard when my soul-sister said she saw me fighting against what I should be surrendering to. What the heck was it?! I was seeking the LORD with my whole heart. Listening for His voice and His leading. Pleading with Him to show me where to go, what to do, anything!

storm clouds rolling in over the ocean

That nagging observation became the subject of my prayers. God and I have some great conversations while I shower, and I brought this up pretty regularly. I mulled it over and over in my head; I searched my heart. Still, I had no clue what I would be actively resisting. Surely there was something spiritual or emotional, maybe old baggage? Wounds I was nursing?

Meanwhile, our situation grew darker and more desperate. I had a vague sense that there was a connection between the oppressive weight on our lives and this unknown war I was waging- not that it was the cause, but rather that they were related somehow.

It got bad, friends. Really, really bad. If you have ever been completely void of hope, you’ll understand. At the edge of all I could take, I looked heavenward and said “You’ve got to give me some sort of break here! You have to break through this- because You’re the only one who can. And I’m done; I have nothing left, and You know it. You have to give me some sort of break.”

And then He did.

It’s bazaar. I’m still bewildered by it. I feel kind of silly telling you, it’s complicated and there’s no way you could really understand. But I want you to. I want to try…

I hadn’t been able to work in the past, because of my health. My resume is a joke- unless you really like creative artists who do short stints in unusual jobs and a lot of “freelance work”. Lost Upon A Time became a platform I tried to shift into a business- because I needed income and flexibility, and it’s what I had to work with. However, that left me feeling like I couldn’t be really free with the blog. (Does that make sense?)

Since finding some great doctors, and some great meds, my health has drastically improved. (Hallelujah!) I could finally work a real, adult job, but my resume was still pretty shaky. I was willing to take ANYTHING that would bring enough money in, though I didn’t have the necessary experience for most of those jobs. In between scouring job postings, editing my resume and writing cover letters, I took some career assessment tests- just in case there was an avenue I should pursue that I’d never thought of.

Have you ever taken any of those? Do you find them helpful? I always seem to come up with the same results- everything I’m interested in is what I’m wired for. Music, Art, Hands-on kind of stuff (carpentry, construction, cabinet making, welding), Writing, Ministry, Natural Health Practitioner, etc. I create with my mind and heart and hands. Cool.

Except for design- like interior design. Never have I wanted to go that route. Sure, I’m always thinking about interiors, and my projects usually have to do with environments. Most of my experience is related to interior decor and design somehow or another.  And I’m always reading about it. But it’s SO not my thing. That’s my Mom’s deal. She’s the designer. I’m not interested. Not even a little. I even roll my eyes when I see that listed under potential career paths. I avoid it like the plague.

That, and sales. Man. I’d NEVER survive sales. I couldn’t live with myself! I tried a few times, actually. I did some cold calling and some MLMs. HATED them. I don’t say that lightly. I just can’t do sales.

A trail leading into a foggy, mysterious forest

My job search led me to apply for positions in graphic design and marketing. I applied to deliver groceries. I sent in my resume to a local brewery looking for a woodshop assistant to the craftsman who built home decor out of the aging barrels. (!!!) I applied to a local guitar shop looking for an apprentice luthier. I applied to retail stores. I applied to healthcare jobs. Writing jobs. And then I came across one that stopped me in my tracks.

A locally-owned quality flooring store was looking for someone with an art/design background to come on board as a sales associate. The hourly pay was just what we needed, with a commission to boot. The job description was what my Mom did when I was a just a wee lass. A single mother, she brought me to clients’ homes for design consultations. I listened as she answered questions about layouts and undertones. She’d give me graph paper and colored pencils so I could draw out room designs while she worked beside me at her desk creating designs for her clients. All my Barbies had wallpaper, carpet, and upholstery samples in their dollhouses.  I grew up watching this job.

I could do this. I really could do this. And I was desperate enough to give it a shot. Full-time was a big jump for me.

My (now) boss tells me he knew he was going to hire me during our phone interview. 30 seconds into our first face-to-face meeting and he made up his mind. I’ve been there 5 months now, and I’ve loved every minute of it.  It’s like a dream come true. And I’m thriving. The comments from clients and coworkers alike blow me away.

Shortly after being hired, some changes began taking shape in our home. The light of hope shone again; at first a small beam, but then I saw it in my husband’s eyes, as well as felt it in my own heart. There’s so much more in play than I’m sharing with you, but I want to make this clear:

The LORD gave me my break.

But He didn’t just lighten our load, He really blessed us. It occurred to me, a few weeks into the job, post-training… Once again I had that sense of rightness. A belonging. Purpose. I’d been starving for that piece of my puzzle. In my adult life, I’ve never been able to shake that sense of something missing. It’s an off-balance sort of feeling. Floating maybe. And then suddenly, I’m grounded. This is it. I’m really, really supposed to be here, right now.

And with that, came the realization that my best friend was right. While I’d been begging Him for direction, I’d been fighting against what He was calling me to; just because I didn’t want to do it. No good reason, really; it was honestly never an option in my mind.

Boy, if you could see the string of changes that have been set off. It’s pretty unreal. And so, so encouraging. The LORD is showing up in beautiful ways. And others are noticing! We still have a long, long way to go, but we are going.

So now, I’m going to ask you. What are those things that are just a “given” in your view? Those non-options? The things that make you sputter “psshht” and roll your eyes because… no? Have you ever come to the realization you were fighting against the very thing you were asking for?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my innermost thoughts.

And see if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”   Psalm 139:23-24

Now, don’t get me wrong- I’m not suddenly an Interior Designer, nor a sales pro, or an expert in my field. (Although, I can talk your ear off about flooring. Ask my Handsome Prince.) I’m just in a place I’ve avoided- and it’s caused personal growth, relational growth, spiritual growth- all kinds of amazingness.

We’re not out of our storm, but I tell you- my eyes are seeing differently now. And my heart’s ears are listening more intently. And the best part? We have Hope.

I’m praying you have a deep connection with the Source of Hope- Who really does hear our hearts’ cries… and that you have people in your life who will speak the truth.

Be encouraged!


One comment

  1. Jill Perkins says:

    Mickelle the blog post you just sent out you really hit out of the ballpark. You certainly captured and shared those deep struggles that we go thru with such honesty and thirst for God. Thank you for sharing this, your victory translates to me great encouragement.

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