Be Where You Are (it's not failure)

I love the way God sets things like this up.

My friend Faith has a friend who has a "book blog" (Faith, can you link to it below in the comments?  I can't remember the name of the blog at all!), and he reviewed Dan Brennan's book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions.  Then my friend Sara, who found Kathy Escobar's blog years ago, sent me a link to one of Kathy's posts about this conference at which she was speaking called Bold Boundaries, which was organized by Dan Brennan.  It was being held half an hour from my house - so I went.  One of the speakers and I became Facebook friends after the conference.  And this week, she posted a link to a post by a guy named Preston entitled "when God allows us to say when."  Which was exactly what I needed to hear this week, tho I didn't know it at the time.

Preston's post (which is definitely worth your time) is at its heart about seasons, and being okay with the fact that there is a time and a season for everything.  Being okay with the fact that not all questions have easy answers, that healing isn't as simple as we would wish, and that some things just take time.

Being okay with that can be tough, especially in a world that values productivity, efficiency, success, and knowledge as highly as ours does.

I was on the phone with a friend earlier this week, and he asked me two questions: "Who are you allowing to invest in you?" and "Where have you failed lately, and what are you learning from it?"

Now I've spent enough time reading, studying, and discussing leadership principles over the past 5 years that I know these are good questions.  Having good teachers to listen to, good mentors to turn to for advice and counsel, and good friends who pour their time, love, and faithfulness into your life in ways that you receive it best are important to your personal and spiritual growth.  Learning from failure and not allowing it to cripple you but rather to teach you what not to do next time and to shape your character in positive ways is healthy.  They were great questions.

But I couldn't answer them.  And I felt like I had been measured and found wanting.

As an INFP (or an INFJ - it depends on the day), I need time to think.  Even if I did have good answers to those questions, it would probably take me awhile to formulate clear answers.  Answering them within ten minutes' time with no warning they were coming?  Not something that would go well under most circumstances.

But even after giving it some thought, I still couldn't give clear answers to these questions.  Do I have good teachers, good mentors, and good friends?  Yes!  Do I have a ton of time to invest in utilizing the resources I have right now?  No.  Do I agree that learning from failure is really important and that having the humility to be vulnerable and honest about how I've failed is good for my character?  Yes!  Do I think I'm failing miserably at anything that ought to be teaching me something right now?  No.

And so my emotions and my train of thought took a downward spiral as I wondered, "Am I a failure as a leader because I'm not being intentional right now about investing time in relationships that will help me grow and because I'm not failing majorly (that I know of) at anything?"

And for a very long split-second I thought maybe it was true.  (Can I say that I'm failing at failing?  Does that count?)

But then I remembered Preston's post, and his advice: Sit still.  Breathe. "You can tell God when you are ready for the next thing."  (And you'll probably find out when you do that God has already been working that next thing into your life without you even noticing anyway.)

It's okay to just be where you are.

You couldn't be anywhere else in this exact moment anyway, so worrying about it, fighting it, or wishing it was different won't do any good.  Owning where you actually are, tho - that's actually doing something about it.

It's kind of like how you can't get accurate directions to where you want to be on Apple Maps without letting your iPhone access your current location.  A blue pin on a map is great and everything, but if you don't know how to get there, it's not much more than a pin on a map.  But if you know where you are, you can figure out the best way to get where you need to be.

For me this week, owning where I am so that I can figure out how to get where I want to go next means realizing that, as Ecclesiastes 3 says, there are times and seasons for everything, and that it's completely okay to not have good answers to great leadership questions right now.  It means recognizing that I am learning and growing in other ways right now, and that I do have answers to other questions - questions that are actually pertinent to where I am and what I'm learning.  Questions that actually matter - at least to me.

Maybe those leadership questions matter to someone else right now - but they don't have to matter to me today.  There have been times when they have, and there will be times in the future when they will again.  But for today, this day?  As long as I am listening for His voice and following His directions one step, one moment at a time towards whatever's next, it's okay to be wherever the flashing blue dot on the map finds me in this moment.  I couldn't be anywhere else.

And neither can you.

So, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."  And don't feel like you need to be something you're not.  Just be where you are, knowing you are dearly loved.

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