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  • Writer's pictureCalli Townsend

A new normal

When I came home for spring break, I was burnt out, frustrated, and anxious. Between school and track and working and balancing all of that with relationships I care about, I needed a break.

And then I had to stay home for an “extended spring break” which has now become a very-much-so extended break.

The thing about this long break is that now I have no track season, there is no school newspaper to be printed, my classes are not at all what they were on campus, and I can’t go see my friends. So all of those things I was trying to balance no longer need balancing.

You’d think this would make it easier for me. And to some extent it has. But I haven’t really figured out how to relax quite yet. I sat in my room with my mom a couple weeks ago, talking about this problem and this feeling like I need to achieve more and do more. She told me that maybe I’ve been putting this pressure on myself, and that I’ve forgotten that my identity is found in Christ and that He’s already made me enough.

The little gears in my brain started to click as she said that.

“I think you’re right. And I think maybe I’m not giving myself enough grace, which makes me get frustrated with other people because I’ve put all this pressure on myself and I feel like others should have these same expectations for themselves,” I said. “But that’s not how this works.”

She just kinda looked at me like, mmhmm, you’re getting it now. But I don’t think my heart has figured out how to agree with this understanding that my brain has. I know God says I’m enough. I know that He’s in control. I know that I don’t have to do everything and be good at it. I know all of that.

But just the other night, still dealing with this frustration, I said to God, “Don’t you see I’m trying? Why can’t I feel better?”

There is something about God that allows Him to be upfront and convicting and loving and encouraging all at the same time. He said, “Yeah Calli, that’s the problem. Stop trying.”

I went to bed thinking about those words. They almost didn’t make sense. When the rest of the world is telling me to try harder and be better and do more, He’s telling me to stop.

I started thinking back to my senior year of high school and how I did things out of joy. I ran and played basketball because I wanted to and I saw it as an opportunity to glorify God. I led a Bible study because I had this huge passion for helping other girls know who God is and who He says they are. I would write not because it’s what I wanted my future career to be, but because I truly enjoyed it and thought doing it and the opportunities it would bring were exciting.

I’m still doing all of those things, but I feel differently in doing them. I’m running, but it’s not nearly as fun. I’m helping lead our team Bible study, but I don’t feel qualified or “good at it” and it was starting to become more of an obligation rather than an opportunity to serve my friends. And I’m writing a lot, which always makes me feel purposeful, like yes this is what I was made to do, but I still have this question lingering after each blog post or story I publish and it asks, “When will you ‘make it?’ Is this really a career option?”

And now that I’m thinking about all of this, I’ve begun to realize that my life was becoming a series of obligations. Now please don’t confuse this with me complaining about growing up and working. I don’t have a problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is growing up and working at something with a terrible attitude that leaves me feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. That can’t be the way God wants us to live. But how many of us still do?

I’m glad I’ve started to realize this, although it’s been kind of a long, hard process. But slowly I’m starting to embrace God’s grace and live in the moment with Him, looking for the joy He has for me.

The past couple weeks I’ve done some things just for fun. I’ve been doing different workouts with my mom, I’ve worked on some projects with Chance, and I’ve made these cute little videos that I’ll have to share soon.

I’m still working and doing school and training, but I’m trying to let God be a part of the journey a bit more. I want to do things that will serve and honor Him. I want to know Him better and experience His love and grace in a way that is more than just understanding that it exists—I want to actually feel His presence. And eventually I hope to be better at just giving Him the control of my life, but like any relationship, things take time.

After all of this Coronavirus stuff is over and I return to my “normal” life, I hope my normal will be made new by God’s grace and it will be filled with intentionally seeking Him and actually experiencing His love and joy. I hope I’ll view my life not as a series of obligations, but as a constant stream of opportunities to know my God and serve His people.


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