This past year has been very special for me, to say the least. It was the year I finally listened to a strong ache for change that had been gnawing at me for some time now. I finally stopped making excuses and did what I had to do to get to a new state, and was surprised by how smoothly things fell into place once I set the intention to make this vision concrete.
Now when people ask me how life has been since making these changes, I tell them that I’m 100% sure I made the right decision to follow my instincts. I have zero regrets. My soul has come alive in ways that it hadn’t in a long time. I’m waking up again and learning to trust myself.
So trust your intuition.
Your heart knows when it’s crying for change. Follow it. Even if that new path means more responsibility, more uncertainty, and more challenges, it might also mean more meaning, more impact, and more alignment with your calling.
The moment I came across a poem by John O’Donahue called For a New Beginning, I got chills. It described, word-for-word, the gradual process it often takes to finally embrace (and create) change. It resonated with me so much that I actually cried — out of compassion for the part of my soul that felt stifled for so long, but also out of gratitude for the courageous part of me that finally gave my soul what it needed. I hope this poem touches you in a special way too, as you welcome in the New Year.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This Beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that Sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered, would you always live like this?
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Iyanla Vanzant said, “When the time comes for you to make a change or to grow, the universe will make you so uncomfortable you will eventually have no choice.” So lean into that discomfort. Heed what it’s trying to tell you. Follow that gut-feeling.
We’re not just entering a new year, my friends. We’re entering a new decade. So let’s make this an epic one.
The quote from Iyanla Vanzant struck me because that is exactly how I‘m beginning to feel everyday. But what if this discomfort is pushing me to go outside the norm? To leave the Church, for example? How do I know if this is truly what’s good for my soul (as ironic as that sounds)?
Hey, thanks for your comment. I think discomfort is an emotion that tells you to pay attention to something important—but how you act upon it can vary. For example, if you are in sick, discomfort caused by the illness will prompt you to find a solution (e.g. see a doctor, take medicine, etc.), which can be a good thing, because it pushes you to seek out a better state.
But other times, discomfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, if you’re working out at the gym, discomfort is the prerequisite to developing stronger muscles. If you’re trying to pursue a difficult goal, you often need to push past the discomfort of leaving your comfort zone in order to achieve something worthwhile. In that case, discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean you should run away from doing these things; you simply have to push through it in order to do them. Discomfort often coexists with doing most meaningful and worthwhile things.
I would apply the same principle to your question about whether or not to leave the Church. I think the discomfort is telling you that there is something important for you to pay attention to. Does it mean leaving the Church? Not necessarily. The Church often says that suffering (aka discomfort) is an inevitable component of the faith journey (along with joy too, LOL, let’s not forget that). But maybe it’s telling you that you have really big questions that still need answering. If so, is there something you can do to address those questions or learn more about the faith and deepen your understanding? Or maybe the discomfort comes from noticing things that genuinely bother you about how your faith community is run (it happens—we’re all human and make mistakes). If so, could you be a solution to it? Etc, etc.
You might want to consult a spiritual director or counsellor for help—or to just openly express your feelings of wanting to leave the Church—to help you discern or decipher what the discomfort is trying to tell you or where it originates from. I’m definitely not an expert!
Finally: please take everything I say with a grain of salt. I’m not always able to cover all of the nuances and variables of complex topics. So thanks for your engaging comment and for bringing this up!
All the best,