You Don't Have to Stay
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Last month, I turned 45 years old. Just five years away from 50. (Excuse me while I manage my shock for a moment...) When I turned 40, it wasn't that big of a deal because I was very busy being pregnant. Five years later, it feels - more significant. So I decided that two things need to change.
Number One: I will only buy shoes that I absolutely love.
Number Two: I will only invest my time in places where I feel welcome.
I will spend the money and take the time to find good shoes. I will spend my energy and apply my creativity to places where I can use my gifts with people who are glad to see me.
I'm grieving the optimistic girl who gave so much of herself in an effort to win over those who would never change. I want to go back and hug her - tell her, these aren't your people, and it's time to leave.
So I wrote this post below and shared it on social media. The response surprised me. I'm obviously not the only one who needed this message.
I don't know who needs to hear this today, but you can leave.
There are covenant places where you HAVE to stay (unless true evil is present there), but everywhere else, you are free to leave.
I was taught to stick it out. Endure. Show 'em what you're made of. And that's a good lesson to learn because sometimes life is hard and leaving without a plan or new support system in place might create chaos and lead to ruin. So if you need to, stay until you do have a plan or new support system.
But when you find yourself in a place where you have to silence or quiet your voice, diminish your gifts, walk with your head down just to be in the room, it's time to go. Find friends who don't talk behind your back. Find a job where they respect your preparation, education, and work ethic. Find a church that does more than just tolerate you. Find a new town where everyone doesn't know about that early failure and doesn't regularly remind you.
Sure, you're tough. You can handle their sideways glances. When you pour out your heart and they respond, "Yep", you don't break. When you offer your idea and they stare at you blankly, then move on and discuss other ideas for an hour before someone else mentions your idea as their own and it's suddenly brilliant, you can laugh it off. Maybe they didn't realize what they did? You can hold your head high when they say, "She always shows up with a different guy," and all you want is to find one who will stay.
But you don't have to. You can leave.
God didn't give you that beautiful, precious gift, for you not to use it. God gently cradles your tender, broken heart. You were given that gift to flourish. You were created to use your gift to bring others to Jesus. And if there's no place for you to use it where you are, it's time to find a place where you can. Toughing it out, laughing it off, making excuses, aching inside? You don't have to stay.
You don't have to stay. In fact, there are times when you need to leave. It may feel like you've invested so much into a place or group of people that leaving seems impossible. You may desire stability so much that you stay because the idea of learning new people and places and expectations is overwhelming.
But if there's a gift inside you, and you aren't using it, are you any better than the man in the parable of the talents who buries his gift in the ground for fear that he'll lose it?
I hear God saying, "It's time to stop praying for patience to wait in a place that I haven't called you to be."
Some places are only meant for us for a time, some were never meant for us at all. The bird in a cage with the door wide open needs to stop mourning because she doesn't have the chance to fly. She just needs to leave her cage.
The God of the Universe isn't small, and He doesn't expect us to play small.
When we're frustrated and our shoes are boring and pinching our feet, we can make a wise investment in some delightful new shoes and put them on as we walk (or fly) out the door. We don't even have to make a scene. We can just quietly leave.
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