“What has been the hardest things about being here?” Her question probed much deeper than most dare to ask and the raw truth that it demanded caused me to reflect on how to answer her, and ultimately it led me here—to a blog that I wrote the title of almost exactly one month ago. Until the woman in this group asked me the question, this post remained blank, as I wasn’t sure where to start—it’s a lot easier to share victories than struggles.
My answer was twofold.
The hardest thing i have experienced here was losing my grandma. Being away from my family in that time, and continuing to be away from them has been more difficult than I imagined. There is still so much processing and healing left in that part of my journey.
The ongoing struggle that I have as I live in the community that I work is drawing boundaries. It boils down to this: there is always work to be done, people to be helped and knocks on the door. I assure you that if I let it happen, I could work day and night, seven days a week, week after week and still have a to-do list, or at the very least a dream list. And because my job IS my life, my community and my passion, I can admit that at times, such a lifestyle is tempting.
I’m going to run with number two a little bit and share with you the dreaded weakness that I see and experience in myself. At times, it is hard for me to figure out where work conversations stop and community living starts. Or where my passions coming to life in work stops and choosing to rest begins. It’s difficult to explain, and maybe it makes no sense but it is this people-pleasers journey. I am growing daily and learning daily.
Drawing boundaries without creating barriers.
loving people well and taking time to be loved.
understanding that there will always be things left undone.
A month ago, I met with my boss to take some intentional steps in the opposite direction of burnout. I drew a color-coded web of my life and primarily my work. If you want to see how crazy it turned out, check out the photo on the right. Honestly, just having it written on paper was quite freeing.
Then, we created a bullseye of priorities in ministry to use as a filter for my job, each ring representing a role that I play. As I narrowed and refined my vision, dreams and responsibilities, I felt even more freedom—freedom to say “no” to the extra jobs and tasks that were too much and outside of my focus areas and freedom to focus on the people and areas that I care the most about.
It was on that day that I wrote the title of this blog, planning to get back to it when I felt like I really had the boundaries thing worked out and the bullseye as more of a reality than an ideal. A month later, I still have not arrived, but I think it’s time to share with you. It’s not all happy and exciting, nor is it all heartbreaking (although much of the time, it is a combination of each of those things)—sometimes my work is tiring, growing and stretching.