So What If You Had The Guts To Let Go Of Fear?

Lessons Learned From a Career Crisis

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Although it was a dark rainy night in fall, in my mind everything was as clear as day.  That was back in 1994, a year into my first career in Montreal, Canada and I was having the most difficult, in fact the most traumatic experience of my life.  It was I who made the decision to change my life completely.  I migrated to a new country, started a new career and a new life, all on my own.  But on that dark night, the rubber hit the road and I had every good reason to be afraid.  However at the end of another dreadfully difficult day at the office, I was determined to stay the course.

I was struggling in a professional field that was not quite the right fit for me.  My colleagues were unhelpful in an unhappy work environment and it was affecting my performance.  I was in a foreign country with no close family, a very limited social circle and no professional network to help steer me towards other opportunities.  This had never happened to me in my life.  I always fit in, rose to every challenge and succeeded.  In spite of it all, deep down in my soul, I knew I had to keep going.  I wouldn’t “just quit.”

What was ironic was that I really was letting go.  I was letting go of the fear-driven “what ifs?” that had been scaring the living daylights out of me.  On that dark rainy night, I made the decision to change my inner dialogue by courageously answering my “what ifs?”  with “so whats!”

“What if this job doesn’t work out?” – “So what!  I will find a better job.”

“What if I can’t pay my bills?” – “So what! There’s my savings, unemployment insurance and… my parents.”

“What if people think I am a quitter?” – “So what! What people think about me won’t change the world.”

I was determined to allow the Universe to let this messy situation unfold and to make sense out of it.  I just knew that I would be okay.  Here’s what I learned –

  • We all know our truth. Being authentic can be difficult.

The fear and angst were rooted in my struggle to fit the bill of an educated, young, confident professional.  I was supposed to live up to everything I was taught – strive to achieve my goals, to never ever give up, be strong in the face of adversity.  The reality was that I wasn’t being authentic, even though I already knew my truth – I was not in the right professional field and my soul was dying.

Many people don’t live authentically.  We live in a world that describes what success ought to look like.  By staying in a job that was not right for me, I was keeping up professional appearances and what I thought were other people’s expectations.  It takes guts to step off the beaten path and take the road less traveled.  Not everyone will understand why, and they will tell you that you are making a mistake.  If you listen to your inner voice, you will find your truth – what’s right and meaningful for you.

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  • It’s not worth the effort to hang on because of the fear of losing what we think is valuable.

The job paid well and I could afford a very good material quality of life.  On the other hand, I was holding on to a job in which I wasn’t able to give of my best talents and gifts in a work environment that was wrong for me.  My soul was dying a slow, painful death.  If I quit, there was the real risk of financial hardship.

So it was decision time. I had to choose between fear and courage.  I chose courage.

It was the courage to see beyond the surface and to dig deeply within to find out I really wanted, what really mattered to me and what were the next steps I needed to take.  I knew that I had to leave that job and get on my own path.  And I did.  Once I had honestly confronted my fears I was ready to take a leap of faith. In the face of uncertainty and risk, I made some responsible decisions about how I was going to leave and move my career forward.  While introspection was the starting point in all of this, I actively sought help to support the process.  I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to offer good advice and who had “been there, done that” and could help me find the things I needed to get through this crisis.

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  •  Never let a crisis go to waste. There’s always something to learn.  Some good will emerge in the aftermath.

As it turned out, this personal and professional crisis not only taught me some important life lessons, but I gained some very useful work experience.  I eventually moved on to another company where I had a very satisfying and rewarding career in marketing.  I can safely say that much of what I learned in my previous job has given me the business acumen needed to make critical decisions, manage budgets effectively and lead with greater confidence.  All of this has taught me to never let a major crisis go to waste.

crisis

Throughout my career, these three lessons have guided me to make decisions that are right for me.  It’s all about finding my life’s purpose and living authentically.  The organizations where I have worked, their clients and the community have all benefited because I am offering my best self, serving passionately and using my talents to the fullest.

I do believe that we’re all in constant evolution and that it is through life’s events – whether times of crisis or calm – that we somehow find direction for our life’s journey.  It takes courage to confront the fears that compromise our well-being and prevent us from living authentically.  It’s well worth it.

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3 Lessons from Learning to Listen to God

prayer-meditation

Feeling vulnerable, confused and anxious come with the territory of personal uncertainty, particularly in relation to life’s big questions – Who should I marry?  Should I take this job?  Where should I live?  Why am I here?  What’s my life’s purpose?   

We only find the answers when we find our truth.  Our truth is what’s right for us in our particular situation.

While the good advice of others cannot always be discounted, it is really up to each person to find their own truth.

Finding one’s truth can be very tricky.  This is because no one but you really knows what impassions you or what your life’s purpose really is.  Intuitionthe ability to know without conscious reasoning – for most of us, is generally the source of our truth.  Whenever I have come to a crossroads in my life’s journey, I have had to rely on my intuition to take the next step.  Admittedly, this is not easy, but I have learned a few lessons, which I share below –

Lesson #1 – Claim your own power

It takes faith to own your truth, which only you intuitively know.  Intuitively knowing doesn’t always come easily to most of us as we’ve been taught and conditioned to rely on our intellect, logic and reasoning to solve our problems and find the right answers tough questions.  It’s very easy to buy into the good advice of others, without really knowing that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for us. To follow someone else’s dream is to surrender your own power and deprive yourself of the pleasure and fulfilment of your life’s mission.

As a Christian, I consider intuition to be the quiet voice of God speaking specifically to me and my situation.  In fact the apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth speaks about the capacity of the Christian mind to discern and understand spiritual truths.  When we personalize these truths, we gain personal insight and direction.

What I know now is that following my intuition is the best way to claim my power and find true fulfillment in life. 

In my experience, silent meditation opens the mental space for inspiration and the voice of intuition to be heard.  Positive affirmations and mantras support alignment of purpose and intention.  The inner knowing that comes from intuition empowers me to take action in the face of risk and uncertainty.  This requires faith and surrendering the outcome.

On the face of it, it seems ironic to say that claiming one’s power requires faith and the ability to surrender. This is because we often equate power with control.  Faith and surrender require that we relinquish the power to control outcomes.  My experience has taught me that there is power in faith and in surrendering the outcome.

Lesson #2 – The power of faith

Whenever I tried to control the outcome of situations beyond my control, I realized how powerless I made myself become.  I ended up being sick with worry and the effects of anxiety attacks over things like other people’s decision to hire me, extreme weather conditions, election results, etc.

What I know now is that the only power I really have is faith.  

Faith is the courage to say “Thy will be done.” For me, faith lets me know that regardless of the outcome, I’ll be okay.  I’ve come to understand that the Universe is God’s orchestra and that understanding the interplay of events with the benefit of hindsight has reaffirmed my mantra that “All things are working together for good.”

Lesson #3 – The power of surrendering

Having faith for a specific outcome can be very limiting.  In fact, I have been fortunate to learn this lesson the easy way.  The hard way would have been to get what I thought I really wanted only to find out later that I had missed out on enriching opportunities.  With the benefits of initial disappointment and hindsight, I have come to understand that very often, what seems to be the best really isn’t.  Several declined applications to advanced degree programs, made me feel crushed and caused me to question my faith.  Taking a partly paid leave of absence from a job in which I saw no future, opened the door to a scholarship to study abroad for 2 years, a promotion on my return and I eventually had the opportunity to migrate to a country where there was greater scope for professional growth and expansion.

What I know now is that if all things are working together for good, then I leave myself open to limitless possibilities.  

I don’t have to have all the answers, but I do have to know my truth.  Guided by my intuition, if I am clear on my life’s purpose, affirm my intention and have faith, I know that the final outcome will lead me to my highest good.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory…That’s why glory matters!

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

 

Jesus Revolutionized The Role Of Women

In this post, I won’t be telling women to become feminists or to accept the beliefs and philosophies of the feminist and women’s liberation movements.  This is because, I have discovered from reading the Bible that our God has already declared and decreed equal status of women, long before any feminist movement came into being.  It is true that human beings have not followed the teachings of the Bible and this has given rise to false beliefs about women and their ‘place’ in society and in the church.   These false beliefs have also given rise to feminist teachings and the women’s liberation movement, which are good in many ways, but potentially detrimental in other ways.

In Biblical times, women’s status and freedoms were severely limited by Jewish law and customs, as they were in essentially all other cultures at the time. Generally speaking, most women were restricted to roles of little or no authority, they were largely confined to their father’s or husband’s home, and women were considered to be inferior to men and under the authority of men — either to their father before marriage, or to their husband afterwards.

Women were also not allowed to testify in court trials. They could not go out in public, or talk to strangers. When outside of their homes, they were to be double veiled.  They were second-class Jews, excluded from the worship and teaching of God, with status scarcely above that of slaves.

The restrictive conditions for Jewish women may have also prevailed in other cultures.  Generally speaking, over the centuries women have been kept in a position that’s lower than men and have been restricted to traditional roles such as housewife, home maker and care-giver.  This was true, both in the home and also in professions that have been traditionally dominated by women – such as secretaries, nurses, waitresses and so on.

In my reading of the Bible, I see no reference to any commandment or teaching from God that places women in a position that is less than men.  In fact, Jesus did not make any statements about the status of women and I believe that this is because the question of women’s equality with men was not an issue or a problem for Him.

In every interaction Jesus had with women he showed respect and treated them as equals.  His attitude to women was radically different from the traditional beliefs about women in Biblical times.  In Biblical times, women were considered second class citizens.

So let’s look at how Jesus related to women.  He affirmed, honoured and encouraged women in their faith, treated them with dignity, equality and value.  Regardless of their race, culture, age, social status or sin, Jesus only required the women he met to have faith, so that He could minister to them, heal them and allow them to participate in His ministry.  Jesus continually broke with the traditions, religious law and attitudes of the time regarding women.  In fact He radically changed and revolutionized the way in which women were treated.  If Jesus broke wrong traditional beliefs about women and what people thought their role should be, shouldn’t we also break away from traditional beliefs and ideas about the status of women that are contrary to the Biblical examples and teachings on the roles that women are expected to play?

Jesus included women in His ministry.  His only requirement for ministry and discipleship was faith.  Jesus’ disciples included several women, a practice almost unheard of among the rabbis of His day. We read in Luke 8:1-3, Soon afterwards, Jesus began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”  These were women of faith, married, unmarried, of high social standing, of humble means and those who had material wealth.  They all formed part of Jesus’ inner circle, doing His work and serving in His ministry.  

Jesus taught women.  He revealed His truth directly to women. In Jewish tradition, women were not taught with men.  In fact, Christ’s first recorded, explicit disclosure of His own identity as the true Messiah was made to a Samaritan woman.  In John 4:25-26, the woman said to Him, “I know that the Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”  

Another big, liberating truth about Jesus’ view of women is that He encouraged women to go beyond traditionally expected roles such as domestic service and hospitality.  We read in Luke 10:38-42 that Jesus implored Martha to stop being bothered by household chores and follow her sister Mary’s example of listening to His teachings.   It’s not that being hospitable is a bad thing, or that we are to neglect household tasks and only pay attention to Bible study.  I believe that Jesus was liberating Martha and other women from the commonly held social belief that it’s a woman’s place to always do the hospitality and household chores.  So what if you don’t feel called to serve coffee after church service?  Jesus is quite ok with that!

He always treated women with the utmost dignity–even women who might otherwise be regarded as outcasts.  He ignored Jewish laws of ritual impurity when he healed the woman with the hemorrhage and when He blessed and accepted the woman who washed His feet.  He went past cultural differences and prejudices when He ministered to the Samaritan woman at the well who had been married five times and when He delivered the Canaanite woman’s daughter of an evil spirit(See Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 7:37-50; John 4:7-27; John 8:4-11; and Matthew 15:22-28).

As men and women of faith, we need to embrace these truths.

  • God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son sees women and treats women as equal to men.
  • God the Holy Spirit enables women and men to understand His specific will for you, empowers you to develop your talents and to serving effectively in ministry.
  • Women of faith are not in the back row.  Women are to come boldly forward and do God’s work, as we are directed by God to serve Him and the world.

This is who we are.  This is who God wants Christian women of faith to be, and how He wants Christian men of faith to see their spiritual sisters, wives and daughters.

Practical ways to uncover your God-given gifts and talents

Acts 9:36 -42, gives an account of the death and raising to life of Dorcas, a faithful follower of Christ. She was a Christian. That’s the first thing we are told about Dorcas. It’s true that she did good deeds, including using her sewing talent to help other people. It’s noteworthy that we are told that she is a Christian first, not what she does, or what her career or actions are. There was great weeping in the community when Dorcas died, because of the admiration and affection they had developed for her. She was a humble and kind Christian woman.

Dorcas did good work making garments for other people. What about you? What good work can you do with the gifts and talents that God has given you?

  • Don’t spend a lot of time looking for your gift by comparing yourself with other talented people. If you aren’t quite sure what gifts and talents God wants you to use to serve Him and other people, you need to spend time in prayer with an open heart and open hands to Him, ready to serve. You could do spiritual gift inventories or ministry/servant passion profiles. I know that The Salvation Army encourages the use of these tools to help you as you seek to understand how God wants you to use your gifts.
  • Think about the interests you have. Consider the opportunities you have to serve – not only in the church, but in other places. Ask yourself and ask God to show you the unmet needs there are in your home, church, your job and community and if there is any possibility for you to serve Him in any of these places.

Here are some specific ways you can explore your talents and know what God wants you to do.

  • You can explore your talents by taking a course in a community centre near you. At the beginning of every year, most community centres send out announcements about courses and activities they’re offering. There are all sorts of activities – arts and crafts, music, sewing, gardening, cooking, sporting activities, book clubs, etc.
  • Check out opportunities to volunteer in your neighbourhood. Is there a hospital near you? Is there a seniors’ home or nursery, women’s shelter near you? At your workplace, do they offer opportunities to serve in the community? Volunteer. Very often training is provided to volunteers. You can work the reception desk, help with filing, serve in the kitchen, volunteer at events, visit patients, organize games for the kids… you name it!
  •  Have a chat with other people who are doing things you like, or would like to do. Learn from them. How are they using their talents? How did they discover and develop their talents? Don’t be shy. Many talented people like to encourage other people who are interested in their talent.
  • Having said that, I want to reassure you that once you step out in faith, God opens and closes doors in your life which lead you in the way He would have you go. Be sensitive to that leading and use the gifts and interests you already have to serve Him.
  • Spend time in prayer asking God to use you as well as other Christians around you to reach others for Him. You’ll be amazed at how many opportunities to share Christ will come as a result. Colossians 3:17 says, Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Women of faith, be like Dorcas in the Bible. Arise! Use Your gifts for Christ and bring glory to His Name.

Part 2: Find your purpose: The limitless potential of the child of God

FINDING OUR PURPOSE

This is the second part of a series of blog posts on The Limitless Potential of the Child of God.  In Part 1, I established that we have the divine nature of God and that with the mind of Christ, we can understand what our God-given purpose is on earth.  In Part 2, I will share my thoughts on how to find our purpose.

You will realize that you are not limited in your potential when you find and pursue your God-given purpose on this earth.  Generally speaking, most people find their purpose when they come to an understanding of the events in the past and the present.  Can you see a common thread of God’s direction in your life?  Are there skills which seem to be more intuitive and natural to you?  Is there something that you really love doing?  How has God brought you to love what you do?  Your purpose is usually the thing(s) that you love doing.

With an attitude of self-acceptance, you won’t first consider what others think you should be doing, rather the priority will be to do precisely what feels right for you.  Even if the negative, doubtful reactions of people seem to make sense to you, if you’re seeking God’s perfect will, you will know what is true and right for you.  God in you will empower you to stand firmly in your awareness of your purpose.  You will know that you possess the inherent ability to do what you were put here to do as you will be convinced that there is no limit to your God-given potential.  You will make your dreams – that is, what you are sure of in faith – a reality.  You will think clearly and calmly and act creatively and effectively to make the transformation of that which you see through the eyes of faith come forth in reality.  You cannot do it without faith in God and in the confidence He places in you to do it!

LIMITLESS POTENTIAL

Take courage and liberate yourself from the limiting visions of this physical world.  Connect with the Source of all creation and all power through your  faith. See with the eyes of faith.  Use the mind of Christ within you to gain a deeper understanding of your purpose here on earth and fulfill it.  Paul implores us to “not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Begin rejecting any limiting thoughts that are undermining your faith or telling you that you cannot believe.  You will find that as you see yourself abiding in God, your self-esteem and confidence will never be shaken.  By God’s grace, you are who you are.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).  You are therefore a clear manifestation of God’s perfect and infinite love.  You are empowered to act lovingly and in all goodness to achieve the unlimited potential which God has placed in you.  With your awareness of this truth, you cannot have a negative image of yourself.  You cannot feel disrespected, denigrated nor rejected by anything or anyone.

Armed with this awareness and conviction, success comes naturally and you live a victorious life in Christ knowing that the Kingdom of God is here on earth for you.

In Part 3, I will speak about overcoming obstacles to the fulfilment of your purpose.

Leave a comment.  Visit my website www.camilleisaacsmorell.com