A year ago, I was content in my phase of life. I spent most of my time raising our young children. I worked part-time as a counselor in a very
fulfilling job. Life was good; I was living out my calling. Little did I expect the rug was about to get pulled out from under me.
It began very subtly. I had a small but nagging sense that it was time to leave my job. Whenever this would occur to me, I quickly shrugged it off for many reasons. The hours were flexible, I saw a diverse client base which kept work interesting, I was making decent money, I loved what I did, and it felt very meaningful. Yet I still sensed that I needed to move on. Shoving that notion to the back of my mind soon got costly.
The environment at work quickly and unexpectedly began to change. My caseload was growing exponentially to nearly that of a full-time therapist. Pressure was building to work more hours. While my sessions with clients were still challenging and fulfilling, the office culture was rapidly becoming a toxic breeding ground for burnout. I finally accepted that I needed to leave. Then I had to figure out what I would do next.
This decision consumed me. There were myriad options; however, none of them felt right. I had offers to interview for other positions, but they were full-time. I was committed to only working part-time while raising my kids so this was not a route I was willing to take. Other part-time positions that were available were very limited, unchallenging, farther away, or worked with a population I was not as passionate about. I considered going into private practice. This seemed like the “right” answer. I had plenty of referral sources and contact with other therapists in private practice who explained in depth the process of starting and maintaining a practice. But all I could think about was the stress of owning my own business: getting paneled for insurances, finding an affordable place to practice, paying rent, buying accounting software to manage expenses and taxes, and so on ad infinitum. Plus there was the guilt I felt over leaving my current clients. At the end of every day, I felt fried with anxiety over making the right decision. But none of the options before me brought me any sense of peace. I started praying about the situation, hoping to gain some guidance. God answered in a way I never expected.
I felt exceptionally impressed that I needed to stay home with my kids. This possibility had not once occurred to me. Never did I see myself as a fully stay at home mom. I had felt called to become a counselor since I was a teenager; a calling that was undeniable for many years which God confirmed time and time again. I had obtained three different licenses that needed to be maintained. I loved counseling and had not entertained another future for myself in years. I was (hopefully) helping people. How could leaving this be the right answer?
I continued praying about this, convinced that I had misheard God. I kept coming back to the notion that I needed to spend more time raising my children. Plus my husband and I had begun the process of becoming foster parents, hoping it would result in adoption. I struggled with and fought this choice for months. Over time the path before me became clear: even though I did not want to hear it, this was the only option that gave me peace.
While I did not fully understand it, I decided to trust God in His leading. I left my job and now hold a small pro bono caseload. This transition was not easy, but over time I began to see God’s plan unfolding before me (including a surprise pregnancy, but that’s a story for another day). Initially I was like Samuel mourning over Saul in 1 Samuel 16; God was calling me to something new, but first I had to let go of the old. Letting go of a calling can be painful and difficult. I did not realize how much of my identity had gotten wrapped up in my career. And I was learning that just because something is “good” and right for one season does not mean it’s suited for me forever. As I walked in obedience and adjusted my attitude, I was opening myself up to the blessings God had in store for me that I never could have conceived. If we trust Him we can trust that He is leading us to something just as meaningful and fulfilling. God is calling you. He is a God of new things and wants you to join in the adventure.
Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment below! Looking for resources on the subject of calling? Below are a couple of books I highly recommend. Thanks for reading.
The Call by Os Guiness
The Missional Mom by Helen Lee