Testimony Thursday: “A Season of Wonder without the Wander”

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 ESV

“I cannot come back to this, Lord … I just cannot do this anymore!”

Ever felt these words come bursting out of your chest? For some of us, not just once but maybe two or three or four times over … The rising tension that builds up like a big wave headed for the shore with all its might, not caring about what might possibly be in its way, finally does give way as it crashes on the sand and lands in a flood of tears and emotions as it descends on everything in its path.

That was me on that bright sunny day out on the terrace of my beautiful office that overlooked the city below.

As I sat down to devour my ritual chimichanga del mar (the cafeteria chef knew to start preparing it as he saw me approaching his station — what else would a woman eight months pregnant want to dive into for lunch?), I looked at the people around me. It seemed a bit unfair — they seemed to be enjoying their break and the company of those in their immediate surroundings. Here I was, staring down at a platter (no joke) and an empty table of one. By choice. And I was not the least bit happy.

I had been wrestling with what to do after my baby made his debut. Child number 2 had just been born last year, and here I was ready to bring forth his younger sibling. Our eldest had just turned 7.

My job was the dream of every woman in the corporate world at that time. The private office, a fair amount of leverage, travel, autonomy, and the opportunity to make a professional impact. My salary was unbelievable, although had I known how to manage it, things would have been different in the seasons to follow.

But when reality stares you in the mirror, there’s no escaping the gnawing pangs of restlessness and uneasiness — it would soon be time to make a critical decision. A decision that I knew would make a lasting impression on the future of my family. And it wasn’t so much the ‘content’ of the decision, as it was the delivery. That’s how it is when you already have made up your mind but fear how you think others will receive the information.

My lucrative career had provided me with so many tools to take with me for the long haul. I had experienced the growing up as a professional in a world that was dominated by peers that went to school and got their degrees in this calling. My degree was quite far from theirs. In fact, I took the skill set that I had (work and study the trade real hard and it becomes part of you), and made it work for me. I’ve always been a good student and can adapt to my surroundings quite well.

But my family … they came first (and still do).

Children are an inheritance from the Lord.

They are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3 GWT

This was during an era when women hired nannies and au pairs to mother their children while they went out into the world to provide for them. Some women did this out of pure need to survive and keep up with economics. And then there were those whose appetite for accomplishment superseded their maternal priorities. So for me to walk away from my position made no sense to the ones aspiring to be in it.

Literally sick and tired — I was nauseated at the thought of returning to work from maternity leave to face the harshness of the stressful days and demands of deadlines and projects. I experienced fatigue at trying to convince myself of how much better our family would be financially if I just hung in there. But at every excuse and explanation, I could feel myself just wilting internally. Very slowly like a dying flower in the heat of the sun. I could not do this.

So, I set out to prepare for my exit at the end of my maternity leave — I just would not return. I had determined that it would be easier for me to simply not set foot back into that office to face any of those kind faces whom I had developed work and personal relationships with over the course of those few years. It was going to be hard enough not seeing any of them again. I hate goodbyes.

Sure enough after our son entered the world, I had no opportunity to even think about work outside of the home. Whenever I tried to entertain the thought, my insides would rebel and I would feel the nausea coming on me like that tidal wave all over again.

As time passed, and the need to bring in an income became apparent, voices from kind-well-meaning-but-not-understanding people began to get louder, “When are you going back to work?” Are you serious?! I have three children, ages 7 and under, and you’re asking me to upload (when my platter has no place to download) with corporate activity? What part of busy do you not comprehend? There was no defining an out-of-reach and at-the-breaking-point bandwidth to insensitive people with no clue. Sorry, but mama, I get you. I really do. And I get it when you feel like your voice is not valued.

When you know that you know that you know … that something is from the Lord, you need not explain to a world of curious and non-compassionate onlookers. That’s when I learned the meaning of resolute.

As time passed, that feeling of wanting to earn an income began to surface. But it wasn’t until my little ones were out of diapers. I did not have the burning desire to grab my business suit and briefcase — GOD had changed that. Instead, it was just the inclination to contribute to our family finances. I did not strive or aspire for anything of greatness. In fact, my prayer was, “Lord, I want a job that I can manage around our family so that I can be there for my kids.” That was it! I didn’t seek a ‘title’ or recognition. I just wanted to work and I wanted it to fit — into the pace and space that GOD had ordained.

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NASB1995

One thing led to another and over the course of several months, I became certified as a Fitness Instructor. Funny how GOD does that: my degree is in Community Health Education. He had prepared the background for things to come. But never had I imagined that it would bloom into what was ahead.

Initially, it was just fun — I could get out of the house and even bring my kids to work with me (the gyms provided free childcare for employees) and get my workouts in all for free. I developed friendships with the other instructor-moms and we would substitute for one another whenever the kids got sick. It was the ideal situation.

Several years passed, and I had no idea that what was transpiring was a new career in the making. GOD does that — He works even while you don’t think He is. Or when you are too busy to take notice.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 Amplified

The Lord had a blueprint that was already in motion — and I was just now coming around to an awareness of it.

LINDA R. JOHNSON

When you walk with the Creator GOD it’s easier to discern His Voice. It’s familiar. It’s assuring. It’s comforting. Because I had set that commitment in my heart to surrender the details of my life to Him, it made it easier for me to recognize His Leading.

Was it effortless? Not always. Did I make mistakes? I sure did. Were there moments of questioning my decisions? Certainly.

But I stayed closed to Him so that I could consult Him on all matters and move forward based on His Wisdom.

Two-and-a-half decades later, I looked back and thanked the Lord for the good that came out of those hard places. He had put it in my heart to want to be there for my children — and He made a way for me to be there. That wilderness of uncertainty yielded streams of things I could not have mapped out or dreamed up.

Throughout their growing years, I was able to help my children navigate the challenges of childhood. I was able to celebrate their achievements and cheer them on to victory. In those critical moments of “I need you, Mom,” without them saying it, I was able to be there. That meant everything to me.

There is no amount of money or clout or prestige that is worth missing the Tae Kwon Do board-breaking moments, the PR’s of track and field, the five-hour flight to hold your newborn baby granddaughter in your arms, the college graduations … nothing compares.

Maybe you’re wondering what GOD has in store for you, Sister. You may be at a crossroad of decision. I pray that you will press into Him with all the faith that you have and seek His Will for your life. It might feel uncomfortable. There may be challenges you will overcome. Some things will seem foreign to you. But step out in faith trusting the Author and Finisher of your faith. You will not regret it. Whether you are praying for direction with little ones tugging at your backside for attention, or seeking guidance for launching out into an unknown territory.

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. James 1:5 CSB

If you’re committed to the Lord, He is there for you. And I write these words preaching to myself, as I now find myself full circle back in this same seat of understanding.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

    Run to God! Run from evil!

Your body will glow with health,

    your very bones will vibrate with life!

Honor God with everything you own;

    give him the first and the best.

Your barns will burst,

    your wine vats will brim over.

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;

    don’t sulk under his loving correction.

It’s the child he loves that God corrects;

    a father’s delight is behind all this. Proverbs 3:5-6 the Message

He is for you. He is for me. Come Friend … let’s do this together. I would love to hear back from you if you are in this season of wondering but not wandering.

I love you to Heaven and Back Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary

*Thank you to Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes | Elevation Worship for this.

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