Susan Dunaway is a counselor at Resonate Relationship Clinic and an adjunct professor of psychology at Johnson County Community College. As a counselor she is blessed to work with teens to help them become healthier, happier and more at peace with who they are. She is married to John and they have two young sons, Eli (5) and Liam (3).
I write this with a sad heart, as this is my last post for Sisterhood. I absolutely love this community, I love the magazine, I love love the ministry, but I simply can’t continue with it.
There will be plenty of times in your lives where you will find it necessary to either stop doing something you love or say no to an offer. These can be difficult decisions, especially when you enjoy it and/or enjoy the people associated with it (I love both the job and the people at Sisterhood!). It can be so hard to do that for yourself. But as young women, it is imperative that you learn when and what to say no to. The earlier you learn and practice putting these boundaries around your lives, the healthier your lives can be. Life is a balancing act. In your future, you may find yourself juggling a husband, children, a career and ministry. You might find that the more you juggle, the more difficult it becomes to do it well.
Let me tell you why I decided this was the time to step down from the Sisterhood. You all know that I’m a counselor. About a year ago, I added a cool new technique called neurofeedback to my practice. It’s all about teaching brains how to regulate themselves. It’s awesome, and I think it has huge potential to help people. It’s also really difficult to learn. I’m doing a lot of reading and studying and teaching myself brain stuff. At the same time, since I began offering this to clients, I’m working more hours. So I’m studying more, I’m working more, but my family still needs me as much as ever. Pretty soon I found myself out of balance. I was spending more time away from home, and even when I was home I wasn’t able to interact with them as much as I wanted. So it came down to this: What could I cut that would bring my life more into balance. For me, one of those things was Sisterhood.
For you, it will look different. But let’s back up a bit. How can you tell when your life is out of balance? When you are out of balance, you’ll notice yourself saying no to things you need like sleep and downtime. You may also notice that you are doing things out of character. You may find yourself saying yes to unhealthy choices, things that make you feel less stressed in the short term. You might procrastinate, be short-tempered and have more days when you feel anxious or down. You may resist guidance from those important to you. Any of these should be hints that you are out of balance.
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, try to identify what’s different about your life now than when you feel more centered. Are you saying yes to too many things? Are you in relationships that drain you? Are you allowing the feelings of others to affect you? If you are unsure what it is, you may need to pray, journal or talk with an adult before understanding the root of what is different.
When you figure it out, your next step is to decide what needs to change. In my case, I had lots of good stuff happening and it was all stuff I enjoyed. So I had to decide what I could give up. I analyzed my goals and decided that I needed to focus my energy on my family and my practice. With those being my primary focuses, I was able to see what other things I was spending my time and energy on that were outside of those two things and began to cut those things out.
Once you figure out what those things are, do your best to end things well. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” When you end something, it may be difficult for the people involved (fortunately for me, everyone at Sisterhood has been ah-mazing). And while you can’t make your life decisions based on how they will impact others, you can be aware and do your best to soften things. That may mean how you approach them, it may mean giving them as much notice as possible, it may mean having a solution in mind so you don’t leave them empty-handed. What you do will depend on the circumstances, but “as far as it depends on you,” do well by them.
Then you are free to walk away and focus your time and energy on the things you feel need it most. And hopefully you will find balance.
But saying no comes with a price. I will miss contributing to you. I will miss your comments and thoughts. I will miss this community. But you will not be gone from my heart or from my prayers. As in Colossians 1:9b-10, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”
Continue to grow, Sisters! Prune what is necessary so that you grow to the fullest, and may your lives be balanced and full of the love of Jesus Christ!