The Hidden Transition

A few weeks ago, I wrote a little recap about the last year. But there was one change, one massive shift to my life personally, that I left out. I didn’t share it because it felt silly and selfish to draw attention to what, in the grand scheme of things, is only a minor dot on the timeline of my life.

I quit my job.

I realize this sounds simple and perhaps trite considering that The Pilot and I are now living in Okinawa, Japan on a seemingly wild and fun-filled three year adventure. But the fact is, it’s really not that simple. And while I’m grateful for the opportunity to live abroad, there is something still extremely normal and familiar about our life overseas.

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He still works a lot. He’s still gone often. I still use many of the same recipes for dinner. We’re still surrounded by Americans because we live on base. For all intents and purposes, our life on the surface looks and feels very much the same. And for The Pilot, life in the fleet operates much like it ever did. His job remains unchanged. Only the environment and course rules (cheesy aviation joke) are different. He’s still flying. His skill set is still useful. His career trajectory is intact. His purpose is clear.

My seven year career? Over for now.

My skills and experience? I’m not sure where they belong or how they serve me where I am just yet.

My purpose? I really am at a loss for what it is at the moment.

My identity? This… This seems to have taken the biggest blow. As it turns out, I had (unknowingly) built a very fragile identity based on the size and name of the organization I worked for, the people I knew, and the career I mistook for meaning.

So when I left that job in order to follow my husband half way across the world, it was like pulling the bottom piece out of the Jenga tower. Everything I had built my self-worth upon– my job, busyness, professional performance, salary, not feeling like I fit the mold of the typical Marine wife (which I took a lot of pride in)– suddenly started to wobble until all of those things I thought made me, Me, were effectively taken away.

It’s not that the job, money or professional performance were intrinsically bad things to enjoy or pursue. The problem came when I made them ultimate. The issue was that I allowed created things to give me more significance, more personal fulfillment, and more value than my Creator. My accomplishments became my standard of measure for success. My “productivity” became a standard of measure for what made me worthy. And the only way to attain and sustain feeling worthy was to strive continuously.

It wasn’t until we moved to Okinawa, where there was absolutely no demand on my time, that I began to realize I had achieved everything I thought would deliver a sense of “making it.” My work for a Christian organization, a strong marriage, solid friendships, and financial freedom were all things that I could say I had the privilege of experiencing and yet I was remarkably discontent.

I don’t think I have felt as much spiritual restlessness as I have since moving overseas. I’ve never felt smaller or more obscure in my life. And it’s taken nearly six months to figure out why.

The only thing I brought with me, was me. My job, my income, my “tribe” of likeminded friends who worked for large ministries,  all the things I thought gave me street cred did not, could not, would not fit in my suitcase. All the things that offered me comfort and solace when surrounded by other Marine wives (whom I found intimidating) no longer served me.

I had nothing to hide behind, talk about, or lean against to differentiate myself from those around me. The instant we landed on island, I felt myself become one of many. And the loneliness was overwhelming.

What if who I am isn’t as exciting as what I did?

That question was my indication that how I viewed myself was seriously flawed. I knew that it was seriously flawed because it was in direct opposition to how God sees me.

I am not what I do. I am not what I produce. I am not who I know. I am not how much money I make. I am not how busy I am, how many calls, emails, or tweets I receive.

I am made in His image. His fingerprint is on my spirit. And He loves me because I am His. I know that I bring nothing to the table in this relationship. My strivings, my accomplishments, my abilities equate to nothing in light of who He is and what He has done to save my soul.

I’ll be totally honest with you. I believe the above. I know it to be true. And I preach it to myself often. But my head knowledge does not always align itself with my feelings. My head knows what my heart finds difficult to accept. I trust that it will not always be this way. One day, the weight of this truth will finally break through and I will live a lot more free.

In the meantime, this one thing I keep coming back to: His grace.

By His grace, I have tasted things that I did not deserve. I enjoyed praise and promotions and I was given a small taste of what the world’s deems as successful. Through this restlessness and discomfort of being stripped of what I thought made me valuable, I can now see how that success was a mere facade. An attractive yet false image of what it means to be truly alive with purpose, hope and joy.

What the world gives, it can also take away. But the life God gives us, the promises of His Word, the world can never diminish or derail.

 

12 responses to “The Hidden Transition”

  1. Cheryl Turner says:

    This ministered to my soul. I’ve worked since the age of 15 and I’m now 72. I’ve retired 3 times always feeling I need to work to find value.
    But I’m retiring again in September and I find I just want to do ministry.
    Your words put things into perspective for me.
    The young can indeed teach the old. As always in so very proud of you.
    Never change.

  2. Curtis says:

    Oh my friend,

    That fine place did not make you, you made them.
    Even as a nerrvous young intern you had ideas that advanced their thinking and challenged them to more. Your time there only matured that which was already in you and of you. Yes, the logo, the badge, the business card are nice for a season but, as you point out, those are not the substance that makes you, you.
    That was your cacoon, and now you’ve gone from caterpillar to butterfly. Good thing too, since you have a pilot to keep up with.
    Miss your days amongst the leaves and grass but relish the opportunity to adventure above and beyond them in the sky.

  3. D.Welsh says:

    Loved this post Mer! Beautifully scripted with truth, just like what He is scripting for your new season 🙂 Your words seemed to echo thoughts I’ve had lately on many occasions – thank you for being so honest! We miss you guys!

  4. Sweet friend, this is a beautifully written, artfully honest post. Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing your struggle to spur truth-seeking in others! “What if who I am isn’t as exciting as what I did?” … OUCH. I’m going to need to pray through this one today. 😉 Just know that of course you are exciting, as you!

  5. Rose says:

    Oh friend, I have experience similar feelings for sure! I just want to encourage you though. Every time I have let go of what looks “logical”, “safe”, “practical”, and “successful”, and wandered into the unknown with only a gut feeling that the Lord was pointing me there, I have come away with so much more. More knowledge, experience, wisdom, and most importantly, more love for my King. I pray that this season of your life will hold so many blessings, and that through the learning curves and stretching seasons you will know peace and hope and His presence.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much, Rose! Love hearing how the Lord has used similar seasons in your life to draw you to Himself!

  6. Geoff says:

    Well said! Beautifully written. The reality that I’ve come to understand on the other side of that same fence, is that too often we can mistake where God has called us to serve, with who God has made us to be. Breaking out from the mission of one organization, can allow us to turn our eyes toward Him with a world of possibility for how we can serve. Likely, His dreams for you are already underway. Be well my friend!

    • admin says:

      I love this, Geoff. “We mistake where God has called us to serve with who God has called us to be.” That’s so true! Thank you for reading. I hope life on “the other side” is treating you well!

  7. Virginia Mosis says:

    Look for my son, 1st Lt. Dirk Mosis…finance and logistics, ft. Foster/Hansen..Baylor/Texan from Boerne. I am friend of Lori and Doug Burns. Dirk is there in Okinawa now. He could always use another friend.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Virginia Mosis
    A Marine’s Mom

    • admin says:

      Hey Virginia, thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog and leave a comment. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes pealed for your Marine:)

  8. Anne Booth says:

    Thank you for this Meredith! Such a beautiful way to put into words what I think a lot of us have felt. I know I have been in the same boat after leaving jobs, becoming a mother etc. thanks for the reminder that we are loved because of who we are, not what we do. Much love to you sweet friend!!

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Posted in: Marine Corp