In March I made a hard decision, one that left my heart bruised: I resigned my position on the board of a ministry I dearly love.
This decision wasn’t due to scandal, controversy, or incompetency (things we too easily associate with resignations). I have immense respect for the people and mission I was serving, and if anything, I wanted to serve in a broader capacity.
And that was the problem. With the current demands of my family and a growing business, I was already at my limit. (Okay, maybe a little beyond.) And I had been for quite some time.
As the ministry’s vision expanded, I sensed a growing tension between my role there and my responsibilities as wife, mom, and business owner. I was trying to keep one foot aboard two different trains, and their tracks were diverging. I needed to make a choice. Putting it off wasn’t fair to anyone.
I said earlier that resigning left my heart bruised, and it did. But it also unburdened me. Though I hadn’t been conscious of it, I’d been carrying a weight of frustration and discontentment about my role with the ministry. I was only serving with my scraps, because that’s all I had to give, and I’ve never been one to do things halfway. In retrospect I realize this knowledge had been weighing on me, beyond the edges of full recognition, for over a year.
As with many burdens, I didn’t realize how heavy this one had become until it was gone. While I grieve the loss of something good, I am also thankful to be free of it. I’m no longer splintered. I’m more focused, more available to what’s in front of me.
Why We Hold On
I share this story because you might be holding onto a good, noble thing that is no longer yours to carry. Maybe you’re like me, and the reasons for holding on are plentiful:
- You don’t want to let someone down.
- You’re afraid people won’t understand, and you’ll be judged as weak or uncaring.
- Your good thing is familiar, and there’s comfort in the familiar, even if it’s causing overwhelm.
- This thing you’re doing is part of a bigger dream, and you’re afraid if you let it go, that dream will die.
- You know service requires sacrifice, and you don’t want to make a decision motivated by selfishness.
I understand the fear, the mistrust of your own motives, and the desire to do what’s right even if it hurts. But I’m also learning that letting go isn’t the same as giving up, and sometimes you need to end a sentence so you (and others) can begin a new paragraph. What if, right now, your greatest act of service is letting go — removing your scraps from the table to make room for someone else’s full platter?
What If You Let Go?
Hopefully you understand that I’m not advocating backing out of a commitment just because it’s hard, or because something didn’t go our way. There are times to persevere in what we’re called to do, and times to surrender that which has become unhealthy. Distinguishing between the two is rarely easy, especially when we love the thing that’s wearing us down.
Thankfully we have a guide who understands the demands of doing good and the limitations of our humanity. Jesus didn’t model a life of burnout, but he did model a life of service. So seek him first, with open hands. Is he leading you to persevere in a difficult calling? Or is he inviting you to surrender one good thing so you can move deeper into another?
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23: 1-3