Did you do it yet? The text popped onto my phone screen while I was working. Sitting in my office, I texted back “No” to two of my best friends. They knew what God was asking me to do, but when you’re single as a pringle, like me, walking away from a full-time job during a pandemic is at least a little scary and at most, let’s be honest, terrifying.
Even for a brief second, I thought, maybe God doesn’t want me to do this. Maybe He has the wrong Ashley. I mean, you can’t get any more 80’s than the name Ashley, and my middle name is Marie, so I could see how the mix-up might happen.
But before I was ready to email my resignation, I had to do one last thing. I needed a quick pep talk, and I knew just the person to call: my dad. When he answered, tears rolled down my face and my voice began shaking. I told him that God told me to quit my full-time job. Without skipping a beat, my dad agreed.
After the call, I submitted my letter of resignation, and I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of peace, like it was exactly what God wanted me to do.
It’s been almost 2 years since I walked away from my then full-time job and took a sabbatical for six months (If you don’t know what a sabbatical is, I will fill you in: it’s a time to rest for individuals working in the ministry, meaning you don’t work).
Some of us are control freaks, planners with goals on every day of the week. We are list people, we are people that like to know the game plan before the game even starts.
So walking into unknown territory isn’t something we sign up for on the regular. For me, quitting my job without another full-time job wasn’t in the realm of ideas I thought I wanted to try in my life.
But when God wants us to walk into the unknown, we do it, even if we do it afraid.
If God is asking you to walk into the unknown, ask yourself these two questions:
How has God shown up in my life when I walked into an unknown season before?
God doesn’t leave us, and when you start to make a list of when he’s shown up in the past, it gives you the confidence to trust God in your current unknown season.
Am I trying to play God instead of trusting him? (AKA controlling everything)
Trusting God even when you don’t understand doesn’t make sense to the outside world.
I knew God called me into a sabbatical season and an unknown season because I needed time to rest as a social worker. I was exhausted from working in the middle of the pandemic as an essential worker. I was so exhausted that I swear I felt it in my bones. I just wanted a time to rest, to relax, to find joy in things that made me happy, and to fully trust God with the next chapter of my life.
So if you find yourself facing an unknown season in your life, here are a few ways to walk through it well:
I had a therapist I met with to help keep the “controllingness” under control, and she kept me level headed when needed. Find a therapist or counselor that you trust to be an outside source in your time of uncertainty.
I also worked with a yoga instructor, Lydia who owns Earth Entirely. If you are in the Central PA area, she is amazing and she also is a doula (I do not need that service in my life right now, but once I do, she will be my doula!).
Exercise is great for the body, but also the mind, especially when you are in an unknown season.
I also worked with a Christian organization called Safe Place. Safe Place works with individuals who are on sabbaticals and also individuals in ministry. They have a wide range of services.
And I also sought out other people who were a few steps ahead of me during their unknown seasons or were out of their unknown season for guidance.
I wrote in a guided prayer journal by Stephanie May Wilson called “The Between Places.” She takes you through 100 days of trusting God in the unknowns.
Finally, I wrote in my own journal, sometimes multiple times a day, and looking back it has become my favorite journal to date as it allowed me to write my fears and fully trust God in the unknown season.
Unknowns are hard and scary, and sometimes doing it afraid is all we can do. But having the support, resources, a pen, and God is all we need.
I want to leave you with this reminder: it’s okay to be brave and to step into the unknown, because in those moments you find your true calling, your destiny, and the person God created you to be.