“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
William G.T. Shedd
Brave. This is not a word I would typically use to describe myself; however, it keeps resurfacing in my life. As in, I just looked at my phone screen and forgot that my wallpaper says, “Be Brave.” The Lord is teaching me how to be brave during this season of transition and walking into new territory.
I quit my steady, full-time job a little over a year ago. I had a squeaky-clean slate. I was well-liked. It was a great place with wonderful people. It was familiar and safe. I had community among believers. And did I mention I had a comfy salary with benefits?
But then I started dealing with this persistent nudge in my spirit that wouldn’t go away, telling me it was time to leave and to trust God with the outcome of what’s next. It was a familiar sensing, meaning I had dealt with this before in previous decisions. I could no longer deny an element of discomfort and tension with my present circumstance. I knew that things were shifting, and it was time to transition forward. I would try and power through, thinking, Everything is fine and, Surely God isn’t asking me to leave. But a reminder in some form or fashion (e.g., His Word, a person or circumstance) would appear suggesting otherwise.
So I took what for me was a gigantic leap of faith and put in my resignation before having another job lined up. It sounded crazy (and on some level, I felt a little crazy!), but it became more pressing to me to follow His leading — however unclear the road ahead looked — than to remain in what had become my very safe comfort zone.
This was no easy decision to come to grips with. I wrestled for months before talking with my boss, and even at that first discussion I decided to prolong my last day of employment so I could look for other opportunities in the meantime. That only delayed the inevitable and made it that much harder when I came back a second time to say I really was leaving.
God wanted me to be all in. I couldn’t straddle the fence between holding onto some level of security and having a “logical” plan, instead of letting go completely and stepping out in faith with Him.
It was a tough lesson to learn, but one I am so grateful the Lord in His grace took the time to teach me. I hadn’t realized it, but my job was a form of a safety-net for me. As a single woman who was accustomed to providing for herself, my job had become a little too closely linked to my identity. As I read recently in a post so appropriately titled “That Awkward Moment When Your Whole Identity Shifts” by Sharon Hodde Miller, “My identity was in transition. And it hurt.”
In my experience, Miller hit the nail on the head. Change and/or transition — and they are often good and positive ones that we want and are praying for to happen — can be painful. It hurts because there’s an element of grieving involved. In order to embrace the new that God has in store, I had to release what was once so familiar and “normal” to me. This happened with my job, and it has happened in relationships, too. Not everyone is meant to go forward with you into the new season God is allowing. This was a tough pill to swallow for my people-pleasing tendencies, but how thankful I am that He didn’t give up on me along the way!
Looking back on this journey, I recognize that no one was responsible for my decision to quit my job. It was simply time to say goodbye to fear and hello to my adventurous God. Time and again, His Word gave me strength to push through and believe when I was plagued by doubt. I thought of Moses, who left the comforts of Egypt to fulfill the calling on his life and of Abraham, who set out for the place God said would be his inheritance, and he did not know where he was going (see Hebrews 11:8).
I came across an old journal entry I had written the day after my last day at my job. How comforting to see how the Lord confirmed His leading in my life. On three separate occasions He gave me the promise in Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There have been twists and turns along the way, and had I known what this would look like in real time before I quit my job, I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to do it. But I’m so thankful I took that step — no matter how tiny it was in that moment — to get just a little bit closer to the plan that is unfolding before me.
I am becoming who He created me to be. And that woman is brave.
Ashley Mafima lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is grateful for the promise that God gives beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61). Connect with Ashley @a_mafima.
If you would like to contribute a post to the Boundless blog’s “Your Turn” Friday feature, see “Writers Wanted” for more details.