Permission to Exit…

My job, that is.

I had asked the Lord this this very question post Christmas when work related stress had me on the cusp of just walking away. Just like that – to take my chances, survive on the hope that another job will come along and just up and go. This current role hasn’t been the best and so far this year, I’d gotten as far as to plan out my escape as well. I was going to bake some cup cakes for those people I’d forged friendships with, gather my work equipment together and drive 30 miles to my job and hand everything in. Then skip in slow motion, into the new day, gleefully smiling because now I would have the time to write my book as well as regularly update this blog and live off part of my pension. As far as I was concerned, work had me close to burnout and the chaos which was the project I had been working on wasn’t worth my health.

But the God I serve did not grant me that permission and instead gave me fodder to log in this here blog entry.

Historically there was a lesson for me to learn in this latest episode of stress and ironically it was my daughter who was the inspiration. My eldest is a grade A student that society would deem as being within the category of NEET – Young people Not in Education, Employment or Training. She took a gap year but then didn’t want to have at least £27K in debt through university fees to then not be able to find the vocation she wanted. She instead is attempting to set up her own business but also needs to earn an income while pursuing this. For the past couple of months she took herself out of her comfort zone and was signed up as a stable hand for racehorses. Over the Easter break she came home to visit and as we chatted she explained how some of her peers had dropped out due to the challenges of the work, the night shifts as well as the early morning starts. She showed me her hands which was covered with healed or healing blisters and with a weary voice she described what her work day was like.

In an even more weary voice, she admitted that she literally hadn’t had the time to paint or pursue her business.

We sat momentarily in silence as we both reflected her dilemma – she was currently doing a non desirable job to make ends meet but at the expense of the very thing she wanted to do. After a while I asked her something that I would have acted on if I was in her shoes – why doesn’t she quit like her peers.

What she answered with was the inspiration I needed to hear,

“Mum in a way I’d love to quit but on the other hand this is a challenge for me and I don’t want to leave and then wonder whether there was something I should have learnt from all this. Plus God will get me through this.”

BAM! There it was. That last sentence. If the ‘still small voice’ within me was a meme it would be nodding knowingly at me with an “I told you so” expression.

“God will get me through this…”

My Generation Z firstborn reminded this stubborn Gen X something in that very moment.

This blog is proof that life is not all roses for anyone and our wilderness seasons are not ones where we endure on our own but we are to press in knowing that we are not alone.

The lesson I learnt during this latest storm was the need for me to break life long habits in terms of how I cope with difficult situations. Throughout my whole work experience I’d sooner run away instead of building up a resilence to see things through. My daughter is resilient enough to see through her difficulties and learn from them. I on the other hand, tried every avenue to get the ball rolling to up and go. I mean these past few months I’d tried everything and in every single case was met with a “closed door” so to speak. The Lord needed me to see something about myself and develop strategies to rise and overcome them.

With the work related stress, communication was key with me this time round. I subsequently contacted my manager who had to then act. The work load is still unmanageable, the project is not going to plan but instead he has been able to incorporate “pressure releases” inbetween and to all of the team, has made it clear that this is beyond us and the company can see that.

I’ve sought for help using a healthcare professional – something I have not really sought for initially and tend to leave when the stress is too much. This has enabled me to categorise and forge out a plan to reduce the stress.

In all of this God is front and centre. As Christians sometimes the envronment (and I won’t say individuals – just perhaps an unspoken peer pressure) makes one believe that we’re not doing something correctly or we have a lack of faith by seeking help for our mental health by societal means – by going to our doctor or counsellor. Phrases like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is batted about when the reality feels quite different.

But in actual fact, the action I’ve adopted this time round, does actually work in tandem with my faith. Dare I say, in my case, there was an element of pride preventing me from proactively getting the help I need to do my job. When pride is something that God dislikes (see James 4:6) and we continuously run to it, then of course circumstances will arise to help us to recognise it, confess it to Him and allow Him to remove it.

I’ve linked to the Mind website here which also covers strategies I’ve carried out as well as others that I haven’t. In addition to the bulleted section on ‘looking after your wellbeing’, I went back to breathing exercises I use to do when stressed, where I would slowly breathe in and exhale but whispering the Lord’s name as I exhale. This would calm my mind and help me to focus on what truly matters to me. Talking to the Lord had dropped off when my workload increased – this is back to being front and centre again also.

Sleep has been the silver bullet for me as well, along with signing up to streaming music while I’m working.

I had to take a step back from social media since March and instead spend that time in the garden and other relaxing tasks to help me detox from work.

It will be and has been a slow process, but as always I do thank God that He hadn’t granted me permission to exit…..yet.

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