One year ago today, after realizing prolonged stress really can kill you, I resigned from my corporate career. Trading the untold dangers of multi-tasking for the singular goal of restoring my health, I set out to drastically change my lifestyle. As I reflect on the changes I’ve seen in myself during this past year, it is clear it has been a journey of awakening from the trance of scarcity.
I didn’t know I was in a trance, but that’s how trances work. You don’t know you’re in them until you awaken from them.
For me, waking up was a slow process. It took time to peel off all the layers of the trance that had blinded me over my lifetime. It also took time to start seeing life through very different lenses.
Stage 1: Awakening from Slavery
When I resigned, I felt on the verge of mental and physical collapse. Living under stressful conditions for far too long had taken a heavy toll. At the time, I knew quitting my job would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Saying good-bye to my harsh task masters felt wonderful! No longer enslaved by a sick system, I enjoyed my first glorious week of freedom. Although the symptoms that led to my resignation were still very concerning, I was grateful to start on the road to recovery. Even further, I was looking forward to rebuilding my life on a much healthier foundation – one that truly supports who I am and nurtures to life the person I hope to become.
Then, a mere ten days after resigning, the euphoria dissipated as fear began to take hold. It was then I realized my security was not in trusting God to care for me. I thought it was, but when my income was taken away, it became clear my security was in my job and my ability to provide for myself.
Stage 2: Awakening from Fear
It was fascinating to observe how much I was like the Israelites in the Old Testament. I marveled at the similarities as I went from praising God for delivering me out of my Egypt to being scared roaming around in the wilderness. I didn’t regret leaving my job, but I also didn’t know how living in a foreign land was going to turn out for me.
Even though I knew I could survive for a year or two off my savings, I started to freak out about not having an income. For several months I battled my fears. I was reluctant to spend money on anything, afraid it would run out. Skimping on food, eating barely enough of only the essentials, I was tempted to visit the food bank. Once or twice I called my best friend in tears, fearing homelessness and destitution.
I wanted to trust God, but another part of me longed for the security of a paycheck. Since I knew deep in my soul I needed to focus on restoring my health and well-being, getting another job was out of the question. To buoy my faith, I wrote “God is taking care of me and all that concerns me” and hung it on my bathroom wall. It helped, but it didn’t always stop me from scouring the job postings online (and even applying for some).
Stage 3: Awakening to Adventure
Eventually, that season passed. I stopped looking longingly back at Egypt and started to trust God knew what he was doing. Instead of being driven by fear, I started to take risks by moving in the direction of my dreams. The last line of David Whyte’s poem Sweet Darkness became a very important litmus test. Many times, the words “anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you” kept me from going down paths I knew weren’t right for me.
It was a little frightening. It felt like my whole world was being shaken up, and didn’t know what it would look like when the earthquake was over. Yet, it was also exhilarating!
Three months after I resigned I was living by faith more than ever before. Learning to trust my inner voice, and to go with the flow of whatever comes my way, I eventually reached a point of no return. It was then I penned the following in my journal: “I love living this way. It’s an exciting adventure! I don’t want to play it safe. I want my dreams to scare me!”
Stage 4: Awakening to Letting Go
It was an intense season of learning. It was also an intense season of letting go. Starting with three valuable lessons in letting go of expectations, outcomes and relationships, I went on to let go of holding myself back. I stopped censoring myself. I challenged myself to be bold, and to take the risks required to become fully alive.
All those learnings were both the preparation and the inspiration for breaking free of the biggest burden of all – mother guilt. After suffering under the weight of it for over a decade, I finally released my grip. Letting go freed me to move forward unencumbered and enthusiastic.
Even so, there were many days I battled discouragement, such as when I discovered the real reason the secret to life is a secret. Yet, I refused to give up. In the process of letting go of discouragement, I uncovered three surprising benefits of rejection. I also discovered the root cause of my health problems, as well as a hopeful path toward resolving them.
Stage 5: Awakening to the Flow
Whenever I felt myself falling back into the trance of scarcity, where fear of not having enough tempts me to struggle to force my own success, I would stop myself in my tracks. Then, I’d read the following passage from Victoria Castle’s incredibly valuable book The Trance of Scarcity:
“The circle [of abundance] is home to a flow of satisfying relationships, meaningful work, inspired learning, endless resources and opportunities, laughter and creativity, and a prevailing sense of ease . . . In the circle, life is not a series of obstacles to overcome; it’s a steady flow of possibilities!”
The more I awoke to the flow of abundance all around me, the more open I became to being generous toward myself and others. No longer entranced in scarcity, I invested in the food, supplements and treatments my body needed to heal. I gave myself the gift of rest, relaxation, recreation and rejuvenation. I also invested in new opportunities to connect with others, to laugh, to encourage, and to serve.
Stage 6: Staying Awake and Inspired
Quitting my job, venturing into the wilderness, and waking up from the trance of scarcity is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It also continues to be the most rewarding and the most exhilarating!
I love waking up every morning excited to see what the day might bring. I love going with the flow of whatever comes my way. And at the end of the day, I go to sleep grateful for all the blessings, all the challenges, and all the ways I’m learning to trust Providence for my supply.
For the first time in a very long time, I am experiencing life as an exciting adventure full of infinite possibilities! Now that I know what it feels like to thrive, I will never again settle for merely surviving.
I have awakened from the trance, my friends, and this land of ours is flowing with milk and honey! It flows for me. It flows for you. If flows for us all!
“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message).
Note: If you are ready to invest in your own awakening, you can find The Trance of Scarcity on my LIBRARY page.