Do I Belong?

Have you ever walked into a room/situation and questioned if you truly belonged where you were entering?
Have you ever started on a new venture and felt deep down within you that you just don’t know that that is the right decision or if you shouldn’t be doing it at all?
Have you ever thought to yourself “I don’t know if I can really do this”?

I feel these feelings often in my life and I am going to share my assumption that you do too.  In fact I’d be willing to go as far as calling you a liar if you claim that this isn’t ever true in your life.  I don’t say that to be mean, I simply say it to challenge you to be honest with yourself.

I’ve lived in many places over the years.  I’ve picked up my life and moved, by myself, to totally new locations and situations.  I’ve had to learn to make the decision about whether or not I wanted to be vulnerable and involve myself in my new communities or choose to continue to wish and hope for things of the past.  I have had to choose to put myself in front of strangers, share my story, be wiling to be loved on by them and accepted by them and not run in fear.

As a 30-something year old single woman I often think that it would be easier if I were married and had a family.  It wouldn’t be hard to walk into a new church, not have to sit by myself, connect with other parents because of the kids and have kind of a built in village.  But, then, I have to look at reality and where I’m at in life.  I am 31 years old.  I am single.  I do live by myself.  I do have to support myself financially.  I have to choose to get up each morning, go to work, interact with others, and come home to an empty apartment.  I have to cook meals for myself, spend the evening with only the noise of the television and go to bed alone.  And then tomorrow, I have to do it again.  I have to walk into church, find a seat for myself, try not to look too uncomfortable, sit through the service and then get up and leave church, alone, to go home.  I have to choose a drive through over a sit down restaurant because I don’t want the embarrassment of eating alone.  I choose to not go to movies because I don’t want to go by myself.  If I’m struggling to make ends meat, I have to call my parents because I don’t have someone else to help with finances.  If I am sick and have to take a day off work, I have to take care of myself because there’s not someone here to go to the pharmacy for me or to make me soup.

As I read that last paragraph, I realize it may sound like I am being a total debbie downer.  I don’t share these things with that in mind.  I really share these things with the thoughts that I KNOW that I am not alone in this.  I know for a fact that there are others. that are living this right now.  It may look different for them but it is happening for them.  I say it because I want others to recognize that they are not alone in this battle and that it is actually a quite common feeling.  The butterflies in your stomach are not yours to keep…you share them with all those around you.  In fact, I would prefer if you were selfish with them and you kept them but I also don’t wish that upon you.  The anxiety that one feels in those situations can be debilitating.

One thing that I have learned over the years is that it’s important to be willing to take a step.  At times I have felt that the step I am taking may be in the wrong directions.  And I’ll admit that, at times, those steps HAVE been in the wrong direction.  But, at the end of the day, taking a step is better than staying right where I am at.

Going to Mercy Ministries (now Mercy Multiplied) required me to take a step.  It wasn’t an easy step to take, but it was a step that I would never not take now!  Moving to Arkansas to attend graduate school required a step and it’s one I am so thankful I took.  Moving to Kansas to work for 3 years required a step.  Deciding to force myself to find a church in Kansas after years of not really attending church required a step.  Choosing to be involved in ministries at said church required a step.  Choosing to try to get healthy, physically, required a step.  Choosing to resign from my position in Kansas without another job lined up required a step.  Moving to Minnesota to work at a small, private, women’s university required a step.  Getting a second masters degree required a step.  Seeking forgiveness from family and friends required a step.  Starting my own business(es) required a step(s).  Choosing to soul search required a step.  Choosing to reach out to those around me requires a step.  Fighting for freedom and justice and bravery requires steps.

Why do I share this?  That, my friends, is a great question.  I share all of this to tell you that you are not alone.  I share this to tell you that the steps may not be pretty but they are steps.  I tell you this to help you realize that the steps are worth it in the end.  If you are taking steps right now that seem to have no destination, just wait, the destination is coming.  God is calling out to you.  He wants you to keep walking.  He wants you to keep taking those steps.  He wants you to come to Him.

I’m at a crossroads in my life.  I’m at a point where I am finishing a degree.  I’m at a point where my internship in doing home-based counseling ends very soon.  I’m at a point where I’ve spent nearly 3 years in my current position.  I’m at a point where I am attempting to see success in a third business (still looking for success in the other 2 as well).  I’m at a point where I am attempting to get more involved in my church.  I’m at a point where I’m trying to love on those around me in new, refreshing, needed ways.  I’m at a point where I wish I could retire and put all of my time and money into helping others.  I’m at a point where my heart yearns and aches for what is to come.  I’m at a point where the fear is creeping in because I don’t know what the future holds.

I share all of this because I want you to know where I’m at.  I want you to know, that if you too are soul searching, it is okay!  I want you to know that God is looking for you and is excited for what is to come.  I want you to know that my word of the year is “BRAVE” and I have this feeling that this year is going to require me to be just that.  I’m pretty sure that that bravery is going to be required and displayed in ways that I am in no way prepared for and have no idea of what it will look like.  And now, here I sit, typing those words, and the anxiety is creeping back in.  The butterflies that I asked you to keep are back in my stomach.  Because it’s easier to sit in the fear and anxiety than to do.  It’s easier to just let those around me be brave and courageous and support them through that rather than doing it myself.  But it’s time to swallow those butterflies (or throw them up, whatever) and say “NO” to satan and say “YES” to God.  It’s time to lean in and accept that my plans are not what I think they are.  God has plans and they will be marvelous!