Yesterday, I shared the exciting news that Ben has a new job, but if you’ve ever taken a huge leap of faith, then you’ll know there’s always a story lurking behind a neat and tidy announcement.
Today I want to share a bit more about what we’ve been going through the last few months, as we’ve waited, prayed, and tried not to agonize over the whole process.
Late last fall, Ben decided to resign from his position as Executive Director of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce. It was a hard decision, for many reasons, and it was a stressful time. He had some ideas about what could come next, but we didn’t know if anything would pan out. There was a lot of uncertainty and financial questions, and all the kind of stuff that makes me very anxious, because I do not have Ben’s gift of embracing the unknown as an adventure. He was excited, and I was a mess. I went through a bad stretch for a few weeks, and things felt very dark. My health took a big hit from the stress, and I was struggling badly to get my footing.
But one night when I was kneeling down to pray about our situation, it became extremely clear to me that something needed to change. I was so incredibly miserable and desperate, and I reached a point of just knowing I couldn’t go on dealing so poorly with the stress of it all – not now, not ever. I was suddenly overcome with an intense desire to be free from the thought patterns and worry habits that have controlled me for most of my life.
Suddenly, I got this very clear, kind of strange picture: I saw a bubble, like the kind our kids blow in the summer, that floats aimlessly on the breeze, gently bobbing around until it finally twirls over the neighbor’s fence and disappears. Our family was in that bubble, bobbing along, without a care in the world. I could see everything passing by us, but it felt a bit distant, because we were safe and sheltered and separated from it all by that bubble.
And just like that, the fear and anxiety were gone. For weeks after, I bobbed along in that bubble. My thoughts and emotions were changed in an instant, and it took absolutely no effort for me to stay in that place of peace and calm trust.
I’ve never felt that way in my life, and it was heavenly. I never wanted it to change. I bobbed right through Christmas, amazed that life without a paycheck could be so relaxing!
Then January hit, and my bubble burst hard. It was a harsh return to handling things the old way, and it was terrible. For two weeks, I tried to get my bubble back, but it was just gone. It felt as though God had removed His protection from me, and I was disappointed and confused. But one day as I was praying about the whole thing, I realized that God had never removed it – silly me, in all my humanness, had somehow gotten the idea that I didn’t really need the bubble so much anymore. Surely once Christmas was over, Ben would quickly find a job, and this hard time would soon be over. I had climbed out all by myself.
When I realized this, I knew I didn’t want to handle stress the old way, on my own. I was ready to climb back into my bubble, and there I stayed. I’m still bobbing along. Sometimes the temptation to take things into my own hands and get lost in worry comes creeping back, but the more time passes in my bubble, the less appealing the old way feels to me. I can usually catch myself pretty quickly when I start down that path, because it feels so panicky and miserable. I try to spend time praying and getting my focus back on God’s protection and provision, and off we go again. There’s only room for one day at a time in the bubble!
That may sound ridiculous, but it’s what’s working for me right now. Or maybe it sounds too easy, and it is and it’s not, at the same time. I have to be hyper-vigilant about staying in a good place. If I let my guard down for a moment, I’m sucked into the old mess, but if I stay focused, I can stay in my beautiful, safe bubble. In the beginning, I think God was just gracious with me, and I could stay there without trying, but now it takes effort. Overall, I’m learning that it’s much easier to stay there than to try to get back there after the damage has begun.
It’s hard to explain it without it sounding too simplistic – although we’re called to faith like a child, so maybe it’s okay for it to sound very simple. And maybe it sounds like I’m trying to be oblivious to real life, but it’s not that, either. It’s more like a visual reminder for me, in my head, to protect myself from mentally running too far into the future. The bubble is about staying in the moment, and trusting that God will carry us where we need to go. I still have rough moments, but I’m learning to choose peace instead of worry.
Now, while all my lessons in bubble floating were going on, God was up to something else. On the morning of the very same day Ben resigned from his job, a man from our church was on vacation, taking a stroll with his wife. He had started a consulting company two years previously, and had been on his own journey of trusting God, as he developed a company focused on leadership training and team building.
As Darrell and Elaine walked along that morning, he said to her, “I think God is leading me to get a partner.” And that afternoon, Ben happened to email Darrell to say he had resigned from the Chamber.
They met for coffee numerous times those first weeks, but I was not excited. Out of all the employment options Ben was considering, this one scared me the most, because it didn’t involve a regular, dependable paycheck. It was by far the riskiest option, and it was the one Ben was most drawn to. He would come back from coffee with Darrell, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm, and I would pretend to be interested until I just couldn’t fake it anymore, and then there would be tears and panic. (Obviously, I was a very lovely, supportive person to live with during that stretch!?)
Part of the reason I was so nervous was because Ben was so excited about something that felt very unpredictable. He’s talked about this kind of opportunity ever since he got his Masters in Leadership years ago, and it’s what he’s wanted to do most. But we weren’t planning on it happening right now. It was always a dream for the future, when we would hopefully be more financially stable, and our kids would be older. Yet here it was, and I didn’t want him following a dream. I just wanted a regular paycheck, so we could feel safe and secure – not in a worldly way, of course, just a practical way, I’d tell myself.
But Ben’s enthusiasm did not disappear, so one day I prayed, “God, if you want this to happen, change my heart.”
And then I promptly forgot about praying it, because I knew it would never happen!
Fast forward a couple of months, along with all of my bubble dwelling, and one afternoon, Ben and I were driving around running errands, discussing his employment options. He had kept moving forward in discussions with Darrell, but after awhile, he began to get cold feet. “It’s the riskiest option,” he said. “Maybe it’s best just to forget it.”
And then I forgot about this being the moment I’d been waiting for, and instead of agreeing with him, I passionately responded with something like this: “Ben, it’s your DREAM!!! It’s what you’ve wanted to do for years, it’s exactly what you’re gifted at, and who cares if it’s risky!!! We’ll find a way to make it work in the beginning until things get easier. When you look back in 20 years, you’ll wish you would have done it. We should just trust God, and go for it!!!!!!”
And suddenly, after months of not thinking about it, that desperate little prayer popped into my head, and I thought, “Oh my goodness, who am I, and what am I saying???!!!” The miraculous had happened, and my heart had changed.
From that point on, I was in. As a friend said, “This whole thing smells like the Holy Spirit!” And that’s really how it felt.
It wasn’t an easy decision process, though, because it was a big decision to make, and Ben loves to take a looooooong time making up his mind, but none of that bothered me very much, in my bubble. I just had peace because I knew it would all work out somehow, and then finally it did.
Ben and Darrell officially became partners just over a month ago, and God is good, and I want to stay in my bubble forever! We feel really blessed and thankful to Darrell and Elaine for their part in this process. They opened up the business they started from scratch, and we’re excited to experience this adventure with them.
So that’s what we’ve been up to for the last six months – a lot of growing, transitioning, and learning to trust. It’s been hard, rich, and very good. There’s still a lot of work and trust that needs to happen, but right now, we celebrate the start of something new and exciting!
To see what Ben is up to, check out the SCOPE website.