Our Work // Unstuck
Up until a couple of years ago I was teaching middle school, and a few times a year, we would attempt to gather 400 little bodies’ worth of preteen drama and potential into the gym for an adventure commonly known as an assembly. My absolute favorite one was at the end of the year, when we had the talent show and the school band would play. Our kidlets started band in 7th grade, so they were brand new at this and had a quarter of one clue how to play an instrument, but somehow the band director managed to make some magic out of their squeaks and honks so that it sounded sort of like a song or two.
The kids are always SO stinking proud and serious about this performance. I mean, they’ve been practicing ALL YEAR for this moment. They sit up straight, shake off their nervousness about having to play in front of the whole school, and look up at their director often to make sure they’re in sync with the rest of the group. The music isn’t great, but the kids are. It always got me. I’d be sitting there thinking, “Oh my gosh, I just love these little weirdos SO MUCH,” with actual tears streaming down my face like I birthed them myself instead of just teaching them about commas. And actual mamas of band kids: God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for listening to your angel babies practicing the clarinet for 180 straight days. You and I know what unholy sounds come out of those things when they’re first learning. (#FixItJesus.) But they do it because they LOVE it, and on some level you just have to roll with that. Watching someone take so much joy in something makes you want to come along with them and hop on their joy train, too.
Listen close, sister: you have something you were put on this earth to do. If you don’t know what it is, that’s okay; there is time to figure it out. But don’t for one second think that you don’t have any valuable skills or talents or gifts to give to the world. You do, and we need you to do your work.
This is what I mean when I say “work” – I’m not necessarily referring to your thing that you do everyday to bring in money. That’s your job. I’m talking about your work – the thing you would do even if you never ever got paid a penny to do it. The thing that makes your heart beat faster, the thing you could talk about or read about for hours on end. The thing where your natural talents and gifts shine and you’re in your element. I’m talking about the work you were put here to do, the gift you are here to give us. It could be the same thing you do for your job, or something different. It could be something you’re already good at, or a new interest you haven’t discovered yet. Maybe you’re a teacher by day and a watercolor painter by night. Maybe coding software speaks to your soul. Maybe you’re a dental assistant or a pastor’s wife or a bank teller who dreams about starting a nonprofit organization, or rescuing animals in need, or writing a book. Whatever it is, there’s a decent chance you haven’t tapped into it to your full potential because of things like “Netflix” and “having to feed the other people who live in your house.” (I get this. Whose idea was it to have dinner every single night? I just cooked yesterday! That should be enough until at least next week.) Or maybe you’re afraid that if you tap into the thing you’re dreaming about, it might not sound so pretty at first.
What if you could spend just five minutes on yourself with the purpose of reconnecting with that thing that sparks something deeper in you? What is the thing you’ve been dying to do if you only had the time? What is the thing that lights your soul up like a 7th grader holding her first brand spanking new trumpet?
My best and brightest advice for getting unstuck in your work is this:
Do the thing.
If you’re anything like me, it can be easy to spend a lot of time thinking about doing the thing, and talking about doing the thing, and dreaming about doing the thing, and researching about doing the thing…and never actually get around to doing it. The thing about being able to do what you love is that at some point, you actually have to do it.
So, do it.
This is not fancy advice. It’s so simple, but somehow we make it hard. I dare you: just try it. Do it even if it stinks. Do it even if you scrap it eleventy-hundred times before you share it with anyone, if you ever choose to share it. (You don’t have to, but you can. I promise you the world will not explode.)
Do the thing, because if you don’t, you’ll always be stuck in the “what-if” zone, and none of us will be able to soak up your awesome. If you try the thing and it doesn’t work out, try it again. Try it a bunch of times and if you want to let it go for another thing, that’s okay too. Some things you will try, love, and later leave behind like a middle school flute player who decides softball is a better fit and makes her heart sing even more. But for the sake of God, yourself, and the rest of us: please paint the canvas, crochet the sweater, take the photos, go to veterinary school, take the tennis lessons, design the website, write the song, theorize the relativity…whatever it is. Do the thing. We need you to figure out your thing and do it.
That five minutes you carved out a moment ago is the perfect time to start doing. You don’t even have to tell anyone. Just start doing your thing and see what happens. I double dog dare you to break with your normal routine for just five measly minutes and take this teeny risk. Just do the thing for five minutes, that’s all. Is there a first step to what you want to do? That’s probably a great place to start. If you long to write a novel, put some words on a page; if your dream is to write music, hum that tune you’ve been singing into your phone’s voice recorder; if you want to be a chef, try out a new recipe that will challenge your skills. You might get something beautiful out of it and you might not, but what you will most definitely NOT get is a different result from doing the same things you’ve always done.
Next time: getting unstuck in our home lives. Love you all so very, very much and I hope this series is helping you get just a little bit more free.