About the Author

Emily P. Freeman is a writer who creates space for souls to breathe. She is the author of four books, including her most recent release, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their twin daughters and twinless son.

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  1. Emily,
    In the past year I’ve learned lessons on both boredom and embarrassment. I had complicated knee surgery and in a very slow recovery, God allowed me to get bored. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t really move and the walls began to close in. Often, that’s where we truly meet God because He has a captive audience. Long story short, He restored my rusty, dusty love of writing and my blog was born. Now I write to an audience of one…to glorify Him.

    Embarrassment…with my days of being Mommy behind me and unable to work, it became very hard to answer the question, “What do you do?” I am slowly getting used to saying “writer” when asked that question. I may not get paid in dollars and cents, but I pray that my work will have eternal value. I am learning how to bring my nothingness into God’s presence and He is faithful to meet me there. Thanks for an encouraging post
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Thanks for sharing that, Bev. That “What do you do?” question is tough sometimes, isn’t it? I know it’s just a way to make conversation, an easy way to get to know more about someone. But for those of us in transition, it can be tricky.

      Good for you, starting a blog! I hope you’re having fun with it.

      • Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want : for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased …
        I have been learning to be abased… My pride doesn’t like it when others gossip, or don’t respect me or unkind to me. We have had job difficulties and health issues. I definitely need to learn to be content while being abased. Of course only Jesus can give me the strength

        • Bev,

          Your writing does have eternal value. You write for an audience of one. But, the rest of of also are encouraged and stretched by your words.

          Hugs,

          Joanne Peterson

  2. Wow this spoke to me! Love your writing and your new book A Million Little Ways. I love being able to say “I am a teacher” and was pondering how much of my identity I get from this. Thanks for sharing your life in your writings. “What connections am I missing because of embarrassment or fear” really pricked my heart. I will be praying about and pondering this all day. Blessings to you Emily as your family enjoys this time of transition and waiting.

    • Thanks for that, Sarah.

      I feel the same way about writing as you do about teaching. I like being able to say it – but if I lost it, I wonder what that would mean for me?

  3. Thanks for sharing this For me. My husband voluntarily quit a new job he took because he felt the Lord tell him too. I pretty much took it like Noah’s wife took his idea about the boat (c.r.a.z.y.!) But have supported him in prayer…much praying and waiting. With 3,little kiddos and some debt -we really aren’t in a position to do this but God is calming my anxieties and letting me see what He is doing (just a little) outside “normal”. I still fight the dread of people asking if he’s found a job or how we are making it….and all that goes with bewildering minds…so again thanks for this post.

  4. Thank you for sharing this moment from your life and speaking truth. I am learning how to wait on The Lord for the next stage or season of my life. This is new for me in that I am refraining from trying to figure out the plan or create one myself. I learned the hard way that doing that only causes stress and disappointment. As I wait on Him to guide, I am practicing ministry of presence with people.

  5. {Melinda} I’m learning to trust God’s calling. To do things that are counter-intuitive. For 17 years, I’ve been a work-at-home mom, making a part-time salary, but having tons of flexibility for my kids. This has NEVER made sense. EVER. My husband is a teacher. I really need to work full-time. Every few months, I have a mini-anxiety attack about it. Feelings of guilt. What am I doing? I’ll ask myself. And God continues to confirm that THIS is what I should be doing — being with my family, pursuing the ministry He called me to LONG ago. He has always provided. Always. And He beckons me to rest in the knowledge that He will take care of me and my family.

    Doing what doesn’t make sense is so hard, Emily. I know God will take care of you and your family during this time of uncertainty. I’m living proof. <3

  6. Those 2 points are so full of wisdom. I think waiting on God in “bordom” equals waiting in stillness in peace. And it’s so important to recognize He works out the plans of our lives through beautiful mystery so that we might glorify Him. What we could easily feel embarrassment inside He uses as a vehical to lead us to the perfect place. Thanks for sharing your husbands wisdom with us today and for unveiling your own heart…

  7. Beautiful. Thankful for the culture you and John are creating, Emily! Praying for guidance as you go. The Lord determines our steps!

  8. Wow! I love this! What encouragement! I believe I have a calling, but I am in a waiting period. I am having to be still in this season and wait. I loved it when you said, “Because, you see, I married a pastor. And the fact that he is not on a payroll at a church does not mean he isn’t a pastor; it just means his pastoring looks different right now.” That spoke peace into my heart. Even though I am not doing ultimately what I believe I am called to do, I am still living out my calling in a different way. Thank you so much for this!

    • I had to reply to Jennifer’s comment as well as this post. Thank you to both of you for writing what you did. Jennifer, your comment really spoke to me because I struggle each day with my current job (It’s not turning out to be the job I thought it would be, yet I haven’t been able to find another job for over 2 years). I keep telling myself that God has me here for a reason, but reading Emily’s post and your (Jennifer) comment has given me more inner peace than I have had in a very long time. Thank you again and blessings to both of you.

  9. I understand exactly what this calling means to your husband. My father has been, and always will be a pastor, even though his paycheck comes from the local Target. He finds willing hearts and shepherds them, in the breakroom or in the aisles. Prayers for you both as you seek God’s will in the in-between.

  10. This really spoke to my heart, as I am in a season of life where I am having to face (and recover from) embarrassment. It’s one of those situations where I have to give myself permission to create and maintain boundaries and remember that I don’t have to justify my current situation to everyone, because I have a clear conscious before the Lord and know that He will vindicate me in His time and purposes.

    The reality is, I am having to make some tough decisions about going back to work (after transitioning home a year ago to pursue my writing/speaking), and just took on a part-time job that from the outsider looking in, I am extremely overqualified for (admittedly, kind of embarrassing). However, the truth is that God provided this job for me at just the right time, for just the right hours, at just the right pay because He knows my need and has blessed in such a way that I can do this low-stress job, make a little extra money, but still be free to speak and write. He is faithful and I appreciate the encouragement your post offered so that I may walk confidently along the path He has set before me.

    With Hope,
    Teske

    • I remember reading a story about a genius who took a job as a custodian so that he could have time to devote to his model trains!

  11. Thank you so much for this post, Emily. It has given me much needed courage this morning. I have felt a stirring from the Lord that is feeling like a move to something new and I haven’t been able to define it and I know I just need to listen, follow and wait…and not let the question of others make me doubt that God is doing this work in me.

  12. I am learning in this season of life to trust The Lord! He is the only one that is able to teach me this important truth! He can move the mountain when we pray and seek Him!

  13. “I held my tongue and faced the window, rolling my eyes as hard as I could because I am mature and motherly.”

    OH MY WORD!!! This cracked me up!!!! Loved what you had to say but this kept just bringing me joy in my mothering today lol.

    Love your two points though & these are two things that I think most of us (including myself) struggle with. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Kim Kintner

  14. Emily, this speaks to me so powerfully. I became an empty-nester in August after 15 years of homeschooling and I was so excited to see what God had for this new phase of life. But a lot of crickets have been chirping and a lot of lonely, unsure days have passed. And sometimes I’ve been in a panic wondering, “Who am I now???” And all I hear is, “trust.” What He is doing in me right now is, apparently, far more important that what He is doing through me. I’m rediscovering my identity IN CHRIST. Thank you so much for the confirmation that all is well. Once again, you have encouraged me greatly.

  15. He sounds like a wise and wonderful man. I guess we all do a little pastoring in regards to our families and children. What great advice he offered!

  16. “…to bring my nothing into the presence of Christ and simply be with him.” THIS.

    This one phrase seems to encapsulate the whole of your post. To find our identity in relationship with our Redeemer and not in a job title or activity–this is so needed and often so hard! As a young married woman with a Bachelor’s degree, I am working in a position where people frequently mistake me for a college or highschool student. I have to continually allow Jesus to humble me and remind me that my identity does not come from whether I’m using my degree or following a 5 year plan. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  17. “Praying and watching as a job forms within him”. Thank you for that. My son has followed the leading of the Holy Spirit the same way for a time. I questioned him about it and he got irritated which said he had received some grief. He doesn’t usually get irritated with me. I wasn’t trusting him or the LORD which is a little shameful since I raised him to be that kind of man, the listening and following kind. So, thank you for that phrase.

  18. Hi Emily, thank you for being so transparent. I have never been in a situation quite like yours, but I do know that weird feeling when you’ve finished one season and the next one is about to start, but you don’t know what it will look like. You are right – Christ is the gift and there should be no embarrassment for seeking His plan. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but your story is inspiring. Hang in there and enjoy the journey!

  19. Loved all that you had to say, but this comment:
    “I held my tongue and faced the window, rolling my eyes **as hard as I could** because I am mature and motherly.”
    made me laugh out loud. It relieved me a little bit that I’m not the only one. 🙂

    Sending love your way!

  20. Can I just say that we are blessed and excited at the path God has chosen for your family. Anticipating His glory and goodness for your present and future. And, we miss John. And his daily impact in our children’s lives. Don’t be a stranger, ok?

  21. Beautifully said. I’m writing similarly at the High Calling today – about my own retirement and about discovering, in the process of discerning the timing for that, that I AM a pastor whether or not I’m serving a church. This is such rich and important truth you are all learning during this season and I’m so grateful you write about it! We are so much more than our jobs, our titles. But that’s the thing about the word ‘pastor.’ It’s much more a verb than it is a title, isn’t it? As always, I love to read what you write. Thank you.

  22. I am learning it is ok to “bother” people. I learned well from my German Dutch parents not to bother people with your problems. My dad has to live with us now and he says it umpteen times a day “I hate to bother you , but i need to go to the bathroom/would like a glass of wather/need a knife to cut my meant etc.

    I am learning instead of “bothering” to invite people into my life, and not just the joy, but he sorrow, the scarey parts and the confusion. It feels right. and people thank ME for inviting them into my life. They say i am teaching them…and I am just learning myself here in my mid 60’s.

  23. I was just telling a friend yesterday that I am learning how NOT to be busy, because I’ve realized that one of my greatest fears is being perceived as useless and unimportant, and I stay busy to avoid that. I am learning that my busy-ness is not why I am important nor why I am useful, but it has felt like I need to be doing doing doing everything for so long that it is a hard feeling to change. Your lesson of how to be bored well seems similar. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I get every word of this post, most especially about recovering from embarrassment.
    Thank you for the humility I always find in your words.
    And thank you also for the light you shine into the places I’ve not yet let myself wander.

  25. I’m learning something similar. There are questions from a handful of people. A deeply personal story that’s fresh with lots of loose ends and no book-ended answers. Their questions are polite and they seem to want to hear “it’s all ok.” And in the end, it is. But I’m still walking through the middle and the few I can trust with the story, can’t handle the pain.

    The model in my life is to run from misunderstanding people and I’m learning to allow God to keep company with the pain while I keep company with the friends who want me to be ok. I’m believing that they are loving me in the best way they know how and I’m allowing God to fill in the gaps. Because these are my people for this season of life and the alternative is isolation. And I really wish someone would have thought to teach me about that fragile balance.

  26. Thank you for this post, Emily. My husband is not a “professional” pastor. In fact, he is in the construction industry (which is truthfully a rough place to be for a Christian).

    Yet, when you wrote these words: “And the fact that he is not on a payroll at a church does not mean he isn’t a pastor; it just means his pastoring looks different right now” – I can truly relate to this.

    My husband has never been on the payroll at a church, nor has he ever been to seminary. Yet his love for God and desire to pastor others in a profession that tries to rip his faith into shreds each and every day is amazing to me. I love that he takes the time to “pastor” these men to know Christ. To “pastor” the middle school youth that he works with at our church. To “pastor” myself and our four children with prayers, encouragement and his spiritual leading.

    Thank you for acknowledging that “pastoring,” indeed, has many faces but beats by the same loving heart for Christ.

  27. Emily – I am learning how to “rest.” No one teaches this…they just say you should do it. Resting previously had been something I NEEDED to do because of my health and when I did I felt guilty because I would compare myself to others. I am now retired from a job I loved. I am now embracing physical resting and it is so sweet. But sweeter than that is spiritual resting….resting and embracing this time of my life, facing fears, intentionally looking for God and finding Him in unexpected places. It’s like a constant birthday party for me being the receiver of gifts God probably would have loved to give me before retirement. I loved reading your thoughts. Thank you. Kathy R.

  28. “How many times have I been embarrassed but covered it up by shrinking back or lashing out? What connections and experiences have I missed because I’m either remembering a former embarrassment or fearing a new one?”
    Thanks, for that.

  29. Beautifully written. I especially need to learn how to be bored. I always feel like if I’m not doing something, I’m being lazy, and it’s burning me out. This Friday, I’m taking a vacation day from work and my goal is to just be still. Thanks for this most excellent reminder that I needed today!

  30. Loved this. I know the Lord is using me, in the way I live my life, right now. Right now. We can all live our way for Christ. And see the world changed.

  31. Thank you! My husband currently had to pick up a second job for this season. I am a stay at home mommy with my beautiful little eight month old. We only have one car so a lot of our going out and about is on weekends or an early evening here and there. At first I struggled with this tremendously.. Was I doing a disservice to my little girl by not having her in daycare, but instead home with me all day? But God has been so good. Not only has He helped me be creative (inviting people in, taking her down to the park which is nearby, etc) but also now I am learning it is a beautiful gift to teach her that not having a ton on the agenda is okay. I never learned how to be bored growing up. I never learned it was a good thing! My mother who I love dearly never, ever sits still. I know my daughter is only eight months old but beginning to cultivate it now will make a difference. Thank you for this. Praising Jesus for days where we are busy, and days when we are bored. 🙂

    • She’ll benefit more from her time with you than from the time in daycare. As she grows, she’ll be able to spend time with other kids in the park or those that you invite into your home.

  32. I so respect this decision to wait and trust and to unhinge career from identity {in a sense.} To opt for an inside-out approach inside of an outside-in. So often life forces us to proceed differently. But I have a feeling that the lessons and beauty you are all finding in this season will be such fruitful ones.

    Also this: “What connections and experiences have I missed because I’m either remembering a former embarrassment or fearing a new one?” Um, story of my life.

    I’m so glad you wrote this post.

  33. Thank you for sharing this. What a good reminder that we are not defined by what supplies our families with money…that being a pastor is at the heart of who someone is, rather than simply their job…that we need to have times of boredom and teach that to our kids and ourselves (in an age when it seems there’s always something vying for our attention)…and to not worry about what others think but rather do what God has called us to do and have peace living that out. Great stuff!

  34. WELL, I’M TRYING TO LEARN ABOUT WHY PEOPLE BEHAVE IN CERTAIN WAYS.
    WHY IS MY “BEST FRIEND” BARELY SPEAKING TO ME?
    WHY IS IT ALWAYS MY FAULT, IF I WERE TO ASK HER? (PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE)
    HOW CAN I GET THROUGH THIS WITHOUT GOING TO PIECES?
    WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TEACH ME HOW TO DO THIS?

    I’M TIRED NOW.

  35. Thank you for this, Emily. My husband works at a church and we’ve been talking a lot lately about whether we can find happiness/contentment/fulfillment “doing” ministry when it’s not always recognized as ministry. Without a title, a position, recognition, can we be satisfied in pursuing the Lord’s calling, even it when it doesn’t look like the path we expected to walk or the paths others are walking. Thank you for your words and your heart.

  36. Rest.
    I’m an over achiever. I won many medals but no medal filled my heart with peace and rest and comfort. I just won them for my coaches and sports psychologist and country so they could benefit. For the good of my team so we could score enough points for government funding. Not for me but for my entire team. I’ve never really done it for myself. It’s a give thing.
    I’m learning to unwind and slow down.
    I can run about and do things constantly but now I’m learning to slow down and do just about nothing and rest in JESUS’ LOVE and enjoy it. Bask in it.
    I’ve found that everything and everyone at home, my husband, we are enjoying the peace it is giving us.
    I’m stayed in HIS perfect peace.
    🙂

  37. thank you emily for always writing honestly.

    i’ve been here three times this morning, typed out my comment & erased it each time. silly, i know:)

    what’s an important lesson i’m learning right now that no one ever taught me? as a wife to a pastor who was paid to take care of other people’s families for 20+ years, no one ever told us that it was ok to quit & start being a pastor for our family. even though no one told us, i’m so thankful that we did quit 2 years ago. best decision we ever made. now we’re pastoring our family along with our community.

  38. I have a friends instead of asking “What do you do?” asks “Who are you?” Most people are taken aback by the question because our society places so much worth and value in what we do for a living, so much so that what we do tends to define us instead of our true identity. What if we got to tell people that we are beloved sons and daughters of the King Jesus? Isn’t that the most important thing anyway?

  39. I am in a season where I have much on my plate. Boredom would be good for a while. Boredom all for the purpose of rethinking things, evaluation and refocusing. Very healthy!!

  40. I three years ago went through a transition that still affects me and causes me to question me how to do this. When we had a 9 week old and had a 14 month old sibling in our home three weeks later. My whole world turned upside down. I was so busy and questioned who I was. I had a 16 year old at home and had freedom to pursue what I felt and knew in my heart what God was calling me to do. I am realizing now that I am still being called, but am being prepared for “bigger” than I thought I would be, but I am in a season and am still going to be in permanent transition. This will be a constantly changing face. My calling is also more multifaceted than I thought. It all is being used…for now and for the future.

    No one ever taught me that my life would be a change in mid-life from close to an empty-nest to starting over with tiny children. To struggle with being a older mother with young children, and fit into yet not fit into college age children and preschoolers. Literally two different families. How to also be a grandma when my plate is full. But, having adopted and biological children for our first family, and adopting a second family a second time after in my heart deciding I would never adopt again from the heartache. This is now giving me a unique perspective now. My calling does not die, my calling may look different in each of the seasons, but I am with Jesus’ help doing what He calls me to do even if it is in a constant change. No one can prepare you for those lessons.

    Blessings,

    Joanne

  41. I love this Emily. I feel I am learning lessons in patience & waiting on God. So often I charge forward trying to make my dreams come true, working as hard as I can with all of my strength. And when I wait on God, pause on making a hard decision or pray instead of calling a friend, He makes a way where one seemed impossible. He continues to remind me in this season to wait on Him. That when He leads, I should follow and when a door doesn’t open I can remain full of His assurance it was not the way meant for me. Of course I struggle to accept this at times, but I am learning that it is still true, regardless of my feeling. Thank you for sharing your heart today – it made me realize this way in which God is speaking to mine.

  42. My husband is now not a pastor as well, I can relate to the welcome slow pace of Sunday mornings and the gift of being at church together, going to church together, and (gasp!) even going home together afterwards. It’s refreshing.

    But this whole being bored thing, that’s hard. I get seriously annoyed when my children express boredom and I realize that I have to reframe the issue. Boredom is not the issue, it’s being okay with a pause.

    This season of not being a pastor has been a pause for us. It’s been good in many ways, but it’s also had hard moments. We’re learning to be okay with these in-betweens. And I’m learning it’s okay to erase the schedule and simply be.

  43. I understand. My husband retired from full-time pastoring in November due to health. I am not old enough to retire, so I moved to a full-time job. As you say, he is a pastor. God has opened some opportunities to supply the pulpit and right now he is leading a men’s bible study for a specific time.

    I often feel I am in limbo. We have not yet sold our home in our former city, so, I have no home, no church, no “ministry”, no place to BE. I am learning to simply wait. It is not the first time, but it is never easy for me.

    We desire to finish well – and are trusting God to direct our path into the next phase.

  44. Oh my gosh…I just realized, in reading this, that I have been missing So. Much. in my current state. So much. Thank you for putting a name to what I am too stubborn to see for myself. I think God must have gotten tired of trying to lead me to it so he put your words on a neon sign for me.

  45. Your husband is one wise man! What profound truths he’s teaching your children, that we have to learn how to be bored, and we need to learn how to recover from embarrassment. Brilliant! Most parents (me included) would try to distract the bored child with a game or song. Your husband’s strategy is much more productive in the long term. Children need to learn how to deal with some situations on their own. That way they develop resilience, which goes a long way in dealing with that second lesson about handling embarrassment.

    A recent lesson which grabbed my attention came from my pastor (who is also my husband!) during Sunday’s sermon: “All sunshine makes a desert.” In other words: 1) A life of total bliss and harmony would leave us dry, spoiled, and fruitless. We’d be as productive as a barren desert. 2) There IS purpose to the storms in life, as they nourish our maturity and perseverance of faith.

    Thank you, Emily, for your humble spirit, wise words, and example of faith as you patiently wait for God’s plan to unfold.

  46. Emily, thank you for your post. I too am wife to a pastor who is currently not employed as a pastor. I to relish the Sundays that are worship filled, instead of work filled–you know what I mean. I know you do do. As much as we both want him to be back in full-time ministry, I am learning to appreciate how God is using us both right here, right now, right where we are. And I realize we minister just as much now as we ever did. Often to people who are much more hungry, and much less “churched up”–and therefore much more open to an honest, frank conversation about God.

    I loved your hubby’s comments. I shall do my best to put them into practice in our home.

    Finally, I pray that Jesus will reveal to you the fullness of your family’s ministry to the world–for today, and for the future. I know you are making a bigger impact than you realize.

  47. Humility.

    Uh, it’s a hard and painful lesson – but a NEEDED one.

    It’s been huge for us over the past year.

    I came across a pertinent C.S. Lewis quote the other day:
    “Humility, after the first shock, is a cheerful virtue.”

    So, so, so true. There is a peace in humbleness that can’t really be experienced until we go low.

    May the Lord speak in new and mighty ways during this unique season in your lives!

    Blessings,
    Kate 🙂

  48. This post speaks to me, my situation. 2 years ago I quit my very well paying job to follow my husband back to the US after he felt like God was telling him/us to come back. It took him a year to find a job and I’m still unemployed! God has taken us through so much. He’s taught me how to be silent in Him, to depend only on Him for everything! It’s been a hard long road but He’s provided everything we NEED when we needed it…because He’s always on time and His timing is perfect. He also gave me a resting period, physically and spiritually. It’s been hard, sometimes still is busy it’s an amazing experience. Best of all, ahe showed me what my purpose and passion is so now I’m training for a new career!

    Thank you Emily for this post. Thank you for sharing. May you and your family be blessed as you wait in Him.

    By the way, my husband is a pastor with no church too. He ‘works’ for God at his job and everywhere else

  49. My husband is dealing with some of this right now as the door just closed on what had been a financial mainstay these last seven years. He struggles between what he thinks is expected of him and the things he is passionate about. The uncertainty is tough for him, but as long as I don’t think too far ahead, it feels like adventure to me…something like Spirit of God hovering over the deep. He is making something new of my husband and I get to watch.

  50. Thanks. Emily, for such a thoughtful post. Reading and living your book! And Bev, I relate to you and want to encourage you as well. I began a blog last year, also an empty nester, and using the time now, a season of slow and scary following back surgery, to write. To preach truth to myself and to encourage. To create art. Thanks to so many for inspiration to pursue God and creativity right where we are!

  51. I have purposefully devoted this year as my Sabbath year (year as in started with the school calendar in August). I relate very much with what you said about John. There is a little boredom and a little embarrassment when asked how I am using my time. I have less interaction with others because I am less busy and yet, in this time, I am coming to know myself and who God has created me to be. For a while, I got caught up in being all things to all people. This year of rest has been humbling in unexpected ways and very freeing.

  52. I, too, am married to a pastor (a worship pastor) and Sundays are not a Sabbath for him. I think what we are learning is how do we balance a ministry life (which is a lifestyle, not just a job) and yet still have margins? Where are those boundaries? How do we find time to fill up our own “spiritual wells” when we constantly give of ourselves from that well?
    Our lives are always a work in progress. Sometimes we learn to let go of things less important. Sometimes we learn to find peace even in the midst of work. Sometimes we jump in the car and go far, far away. A change of scenery might be all that is needed.
    Learning as we go,
    Sara

  53. Emily, thank you for speaking to both of these lessons. I’m learning the first one more and more, and have no idea how to learn the second. 😉

    Something else no one ever bothered to teach me is that sometimes “waiting on the Lord” is really just me refusing to make choices, out of fear. I’m learning to trust that the Spirit of God in me does infuse me with discernment, does bless the choices I make, and will even help me set right mistakes I make while I’m learning to choose rather than wait and wait and wait because I’m afraid to get things “wrong.”

    It’s lovely, and terrifying, and I finally feel like a grown-up woman–able to choose like a child, but trusting the wisdom of God to transcend where I’m broken and foolish.

  54. “Crickets sing.

    Feet shuffle.

    Weather talk ensues.”

    I love this! Thank you for sharing so candidly, Emily. Oh, how I can relate to the tone of your post as I find myself in a similar setting of waiting, trusting, and hoping in the Lord for my next steps. Job transition can be so very awkward, and I have encountered that lull in conversation when people ask, “What do you do?” It’s been an interesting time of the Lord teaching me to find my identity in Him FIRST. Everything else will flow from that, which your writing so beautifully and accurately describes. Thanks for the word of encouragement to all of us who are waiting in the wings 🙂

    God bless your family,
    Ashley

  55. The lesson that I’m learning is that my identity is in Christ and not in “what I do”. This journey began right after I graduated with my college degree. Upon graduation I proceeded to seek opportunities to advance my career in the work environment. However, God had a different plan and agenda. Fast forward to now, I still don’t have a job (going on 3yrs.) but through this process God has delivered me from fear, perfectionism and introduced me to His grace and love that I’m now able to receive with a healed heart. In fact, just recently, I change my profile page on Linked In to boldly proclaim my position is a HOMEMAKER. No embarrassment and No regrets. I’m actually thankful and grateful for His plan instead of my own. It’s no telling where I would probably end up if it had not been for His divine interruption. To God Be The Glory!

    Thank you so much for your transparency!

  56. Thanks for being so real and sharing your truths. I know The Lord came to give us life in abundance and sometimes I think we get so involved with his things and not with him. We need to learn to be….

  57. I learned that I am not at all defined by what I do. And that was hard, because it seems to be the very first thing people want to know about you. I allowed myself to be defined by my previous job, which I loved, but when I gave it up to stay home with our kids, it was like a part of me was cut off. People still expect me to go back to it and don’t understand when I tell them that God wants me to be right where I am. Of course, I am only just accepting that myself! 😉

  58. I TOTALLY get this and thank you for sharing. I am almost 69 and retired at 65 to DO what God wanted me to. I was doing His work at my job with the elderly at an assisted living, but now I have time to DO nothing! My TV is not on with talk shows, soap boxes, or games, but I can read the Bible or a devotion for an hour and should not feel guilty, or watch a grandchild for days, because I want to. I can go to as many groups or coffees that my heart desires, but I still feel like I should have to explain to someone what I did with my day. Why can’t we just BE and not always DO? Does a job or position make me who God intended me to be? I think my phone calls the last two days were what God wants me to do with my days. I could feel His love flow through to the other end of the phone. Your husband is doing Gods work wherever he is today and you are a wonderful wife as is my husband who is happy that I am a stay at home Gramma. Blessings and keep on blogging. Love your openness.

  59. Last June, I left a full time ministry staff after serving there for 4 years. I transitioned into a new city and a new marriage. God revealed to me how much of my identity was wrapped up in what I did for a living instead of who I was in him. It was a painful bumpy season. After some soul searching and job searching, I’ve landed in a new job that is the perfect sabbatical after ministry. It was great for my soul to slow down for 6 months and take time to process all that God had done in me, through me, and around me during my time on staff with a ministry. God has been so faithful to lead me to where I am now. Praying the same blessing for your family.

  60. Sometimes the hardest place to Pastor is in the home. So thankful John has this time for God to speak to him & for him to Pastor at home. Continuing to pray for you!

    In His Calm,
    Mary

  61. Thank you for sharing this. I left my job a year ago. I was burned out at work and with the settlement of my father’s estate. I turned 60 last May. I am very active but have no idea of a job I’d like to do. I still have time before retirement to work and save. Honestly, I am afraid of being still. I think, what if God has nothing to say to me? That fear is from my earthly father who rarely spoke to me and yet, the last 10 years of his life he depended on me to help care for him. His concern was about himself. I loved him and was very happy to help him, but he never expressed concern for me and my other responsibilities. We laughed and sometimes cried together. It was the first time in my life that I spent time with my Dad alone. I am trying to learn to accept this time as a gift. Not everyone gets to do this. I am trying to trust God because I couldn’t depend on my biological father for security but I need to learn to trust God for my future. Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s a confirmation for me.

  62. As a pastor who was out of work for a year (due to a round of lay-offs), I can totally relate to so much of what you’ve said. There are times that it’s hard not to think your ministry is gone when your title is no longer pastor or minister. I have a job in ministry now through a parachurch organization and I’m so grateful for it. But there are times that I wonder where I might be right now if I’d spent more time allowing God to “build a ministry in me” than I did applying and interviewing for positions and asking Him to let me know which was the right one. Thanks for your transparency!

  63. Something I’ve been learning is to slow down. Which is very. Hard. I’m the kind of person who thinks fast, talks fast(it’s a curse), reads fast, and types fast. I tend to hurry through my day missing so many opportunities! I know God could use me in so many ways if I would stop rushing and just rest in Him. This is not something I will learn fast. (But that’s ok)

  64. Last year I attended a speakers conference. We were encouraged to sit in a different place and dine with different people for each session and each meal. There was a note on the dining tables with a guideline for conversation: “Don’t ask ‘what do you do’, say ‘tell me about yourself’. We so often classify each other and identify ourselves by what we do rather than who were are. I am a writer by trade, but who am I? A Christ-following, chocolate-loving, nature picture-taking, fun-loving, encourager who has a passion to show people God’s love through practical acts of service. And who just happens to write about all that sometimes 🙂

  65. Hi there Emily!

    Wow – a very thought provoking post. Especially about “boredom” and practicing stillness. That’s where I’m at now. I WISH there was a required class in school that’s main goal is to teach us to be still with ourselves. I have never been comfortable “just being” and always feel the need to be doing something – like I’m not living a full life or being or doing enough for my family, friends or employer. Honestly, it’s exhausting and panic-provoking. I am working on “release” right now and turning my stuff over to God’s hands…. I hope to learn to be able to be still with myself and pass that on to my young daughter. Thank you for your words today!

    With a grateful heart,
    Kristin

  66. I practiced sitting doing nothing today. It really does take some focus to sit and be still and quiet, not planning or figuring out. I am a stay-at-home mom, both kids are in school, and I take care of their needs and our home, but still have lots of time on my hands-something I don’t want to take for granted. My husband is a teacher/coach. He works so hard for our family. He doesn’t want me to find a job outside the home, and I don’t either. It’s hard to explain even in this day and time. I’m searching for the “work” God has for me. I feel like I have buried it over the years and I’m now in a place that I want it to fully reveal itself. But it is step by step, and day by day. And it’s hard to explain to people who don’t see God’s calling for my life, it’s always unfolding. I am really in a “slow” place of living. Your words always resonate, Emily.

  67. “How many times have I been embarrassed but covered it up by shrinking back or lashing out? What connections and experiences have I missed because I’m either remembering a former embarrassment or fearing a new one?”
    I learned this kind of behavior as a child, from my mother who frequently implied she was embarrassed by my appearance. I was well into my 30’s before I heard someone say they were average in appearance. I could be average. It was a breakthrough.
    Earlier today, I was remembering and writing about two very difficult experiences realizing how I allowed them to keep me from trying again.
    There are so many things I was not taught. Thank you for giving lessons!

  68. I don’t have anything brilliant to say…but humble I say to you and your family..God Bless…and I know he will direct you to where He needs you!

  69. Thank you so much for this, Emily. I can relate to so much of this as I am in a season of transition and have been for a long time. Perhaps it speaks to the seasons of mothering littles where you are exactly where you belong and you are still you, but much of it is channeled into the raising and nurturing of littles. Or when your husband is pursuing his dreams and they are demanding and you get to be who you are as you support him. Or when you just know God is calling you to a new church and you are terrified you are going to get it all wrong and you can’t just dive in and serve or just know everyone; you have to wait, find where God wants you and go through all the awkward get-to-know-yous.
    I may be in the middle of all that transition at once. Yes, I could use prayer 😉
    I like the two lessons you drew from this… I would like to learn these too! Especially the embarrassment one. I think of how walking with God is a journey and how His Grace is big enough to give us the space to work through our struggles. But I think sometimes we put so much pressure to get it right. Just right, so no one can laugh at us or gossip about the girl who got it all wrong.

    • Amanda,

      Prayers for you and your family. May God help you through this journey and stand with you as you move to another church. It is never easy to leave a church of friends & try to make new ones.

      Father,

      Please help Amanda and her family as they transition to a new church. Help them with the awkward moving and give them peace and contentment that this is coming from you!

      AMEN!

  70. Your husband sounds like a very.wise.pastor indeed. Saying a prayer Emily, that the Lord would reveal in His perfect timing, where He has already made a way and preordained him to be.

  71. This is beautiful and deep. Pride (which births embarrassment) and a need to be doing rather than just being, are at the heart of a lot of my struggle to simply rest in God. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey and giving hope to the rest of us!

  72. I always love to read your blog, posts, books. In this season of life, which is a very growing, challenging season for my family I would love to crawl in a hole and be and say all the”good girl” things. You are inspiring me to not settle. Thank you really doesn’t do!

  73. ahh, the art of being still. I realized lately that I can barely do anything anymore without picking up the iPhone every 10 minutes. It’s atrocious, really. And it wears on me, this being connected all the time. Pulling back *hurts* but it’s so worth it. I’m relearning how to be bored… a kindergartener in the process, really. Each day of turning off, reaching out, choosing the book over FB, is one step closer to graduation. I want the cap.

    • Lindsey, I hear ya’! I struggle with being present and not “connected” all the time too. On one hand I am grateful for the ability to connect with awesome messages like this and women who can lift each other up via the web. And know when it is taking time away from the more important things in life, time with my husband and son, reading a good book, praying, getting to know the Bible more. It’s such a contradictory world we live in. I think its a good idea to shut down for awhile everyday. I’m going to give it a try as well. Thank you…and good luck girl!

  74. I’ve served in ministry at the same church for about 18 years. I’ve been on staff there, supporting our lead and children’s pastors for about 10 of those years. I’m the go to girl, the one with all of the answers, who knows everything and does everything. Lately, God has been asking me to lay some of my ministry assignments down. It was hard at first. I felt guilty. “Who would fill my shoes?”. I am learning that God cannot raise up another unless we are willing to step out of the way. Thanks for sharing Emily. May God continue to richly bless you and your husband and children during this season.

  75. I never take that question “what do you do?” personal!!! When I am asked “what do you do?” ( I am retired, 68 years young), I reply, “I am never bored nor lonely, because now I work as God’s assistant”…I concentrate on things such as “little acts of kindness” ( I make25-50 cards for servicemen each month, I perform one or many “little acts of kindness” each day. I call friends that need to feel needed each day, or know that they are thought of. ) Most importantly, having the time to “walk the walk” with God, and not just “talk the talk”, has brought me into a more intimate conscious contact with my soulmate. My life is filled with the joy of precious family members to be nurtured, including all of my 11 grandchildren. I make a gratitude list each day and even on the bad days I find there is always joy if you stay connected to God’s “purpose for your life”. What I know for sure…. that in giving, loving & sharing with others I am receiving God’s eternal promise. Your family is blessed to have your husband’s presence in their lives, and I am sure God is pleased with his choice to be “present” in those PRECIOUS MOMENTS! Life is so very short (we lost a 7 year old grandson 4 yrs ago). Blessings to your family from ours!

  76. I didn’t get to read all these but I will. I just read Nancy L. Above and it touched my heart….!

  77. Thank you for so much for sharing your struggles and keeping it real. Your husband is a wise man and a great leader for teaching his chlidren (and his wife 😉 ) two wonderful lessons. I was sad this morning on a day when I should have been celebrating. It’s my birthday and I know I should be gratful for being alive and healthy but instead I let myself wallow in the sorrow of not having my daughters with me. My husband took a job this summer that relocated him, myself and my 15 year old son to Texas. While it has been good at times I have had to learn to be bored, which as a mom to four is completely foreign to me. I am grieving not having girl time with my daughters, who are spread across the United States ( LA,SF and CT), and being in temporary housing without any of our own belongings.

    We have also had to master the art of hiding embarrassment from the questions of why my husband isn’t with the job he came here for. (Because he found his dream job, although needs to build a clientele, which takes time). Why we are still financially struggling ( see previous answer ande…becuase he was umemployed for a month and we had already blown through our savings and retirement as we struggled in CA). And as an almost empty nester, why I am not working (because we only have one car in a somewhat remote area, and my son is dealing with anxiety and needs me at home). Needless to say the only thing that has made life bearable for me is finding a wonderful church and renewing my relationship with God.

    As I type this I am thankful that he handed me your message today so that I know I am not alone, so I know I am not crazy for having doubts and raw emotion. Thank you for being a light to me today. Thank you for sharing your story.

  78. This is so similar to where my parents and I personally have been for the past few years! The “what do you do” question is so hard to answer when what you do is not the norm, and you know they’re not going to get it. I definitely hear what you’re saying about being embarrassed about it. I’ve spent the last two years in that trap and I’m finally *starting* to learn to be confident in what God has called me to.
    Thank you for this encouraging post.

  79. Emily,

    It is hard for men not to have a job–for most it is their identity. I don’t place my identity in a job/title whatever. I place my identity in Christ ALONE!

    I’m learning like Paul to be content with and where ever God places me. Did not learn that from my parents. Today my job might be medical assistant, but tomorrow and for the rest of my life I will be a Child of God, wife & homemaker!

    My prayers go out for your husband as he decides what to do. I applaud you both for stepping out on faith and just being a family and enjoying each other and having more time alone with God!

    Blessings :[)

  80. Emily, new beginnings are a like a chrysalis. You sometimes can’t see what will come out of them until the butterfly emerges. John’s words are wise. We seldom give ourselves time to simply “be” – with each other, and with the Lord who will always direct us through the Spirit. And when we let go of embarrassment, we let go of our ego, which allows us to see our new purpose, free from the weight of judgment and perception.

    I was an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. I knew the Lord was going to take me out of teaching before I was ready, and I mourned the passing of my beloved career. The embarrassment of being on permanent disability and the not-knowing of what I was to “do” was initially of great concern to me.

    Yet, in His wisdom and ways, which are far above ours, He revealed His plan to me. I now use my long-forgotten gift of writing to serve Him in ways I could never have expected. I blog, I am writing a family devotional, and I relish in the green meadow of respite He spreads before me. I am building His kingdom one word at a time.

    So it will be for John.

  81. Ah! Yes! We must find out who we’re called to be, then the ‘what we’re called to do’ has much less pressure attached to it. Then the changing between the ‘doings’ – quickly or slowly – has clear purpose, you can do all of it from a position of strength, and responding to the questions can be easier. John is called to be a pastor. Sometimes that means he’ll have a [paid] job as a pastor. When asked what he does, he might answer ‘Well, I’m trained as a pastor, so I’m really interested in [helping people, connecting people to God/to their calling, sharing the gospel, fill in the blank], and for a long time that meant working at a church. Right now, I’m taking a sabbatical, I guess you could call it, to learn about other ways I can do the [helping, connecting, sharing, whatever].’ And when you’re working from that position of strength, perhaps the embarrassment or shame might be lessened? You actually don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. He hasn’t failed.

    It certainly takes an amount of grace to look beyond the misunderstanding or limited vision of others, to answer their real question. They only ask the ‘what do you do?’ questions because they don’t know any different. Someone once asked me ‘what keeps you busy?’ – and that changed my whole perspective. It automatically validated what I did as a student and career woman, and it also validated the stay-at-home mother of 4 sitting next to me. Of course, if you don’t like the word busy, there are plenty of other ways to phrase it, but the essential question is the same – ‘how spend your time right now is important – tell me about it, and how that works in with who you’re called to be.’

  82. John has taught me so much about my identity. That it is not based off of what we do or where we go to college or what scholarships we get, but on Christ. It’s something I have taken with me and remind myself constantly. I wish you all could know the difference your writings and John’s teachings have had on me. You all are a constant encouragement to me in my darkest of times. Thanks for your writings, Emily.