The Quiet Gift of Grace

I remember sitting at my desk back in 2006 thinking:

I don’t want this. I don’t want any of this.

 

From the outside looking in, everything seemed perfect. I’d made it. I’d achieved everything I’d ever wanted:
I had my MBA.
I had a high paying job.
I flew on corporate jets and stayed in the nicest hotels.
I had a huge house on a golf course.
I had a country club membership.
I had nice cars.
I could buy anything I wanted.


And then one day I walked in and quit my job. I didn’t even clean out my desk.  I left all the remnants of one life with the intention of moving on to something I hadn’t even found yet.

Really, I had started to check out well before the day that I actually left.  I remember driving into my driveway in the wee hours of the morning (because I rarely got home the same day I went to work), I’d turn the car off and just sit there.  Every night I pulled in there was a family of deer by the edge of the house.  This went on for weeks. I would sit silently in my car and watch them eat the perfect landscaping that we’d spent so much money on, almost laughing at the irony of it all.  Sitting there, with the whole world asleep around me, I would think:

Is this all there is?



And I knew that I wanted more but it came with overwhelming fear.

My mind was on repeat:

How do I walk away from all of this without looking like a failure?

How can I be brave enough to change the path I’m on?

How will I explain to people that although this may look like success it doesn’t feel like it?

How do I rearrange my whole life…..just to figure out what I want out of it?

Where is the exit? Please God give me an exit!


Then, on one of those nights, sitting in the still and quiet of my driveway, I found the quiet gift of grace.  The fear vanished.  I didn’t know what my path was going to be yet. I didn’t have anything planned out.  I just knew that I didn’t want what I had.

on solitude, grace and love via lilblueboo.com #quote

 

The funny thing about faith and bravery is that they start to build on each other, if you let them.  In the 30 days following the day I quit my “dream” job:

My husband quit his “dream” job.
We sold our “dream” house.
We sold our “dream” cars.
We walked away from a non-refundable country club membership.
We moved 3,000 miles across the country.

We didn’t bring much with us, mostly boxes of books, journals and photos.  I gave Mr. LBB a box or two as well.

And yes, everyone thought we were nuts. Here’s an important message, write it down:

Sometimes it’s a relief to be NUTS…..when people think you are crazy it takes away the need for explanation.

But the truth is, I’ve never regretted walking away from it all.  Ok, maybe for exactly 3 seconds every time I look at my huge stack of medical bills, but it quickly goes away.  But maybe that’s not regret, maybe it’s just a little bit of longing for security.  We all want security, but in the physical world there isn’t any.  When I start worrying and longing for something else it means I’ve drifted away from my faith. It’s an easy measure for me.

For so long, I thought I had to be this hard shell of bravery and endurance. I viewed success and failure as black and white.  But sometimes being brave is allowing yourself to fail. Now I look at failure not so much as an exit but as another door opening.

 

on a spiritual life via lilblueboo.com #quote

 

I feel something stirring in me again.  I feel restless. I want less. I want simple. God can be kind of relentless sometimes….and it always seems to be when I think I don’t need him so much anymore.  I need to find time to be still and listen.  And I need to be brave enough to re-arrange my life to fit through whatever door opens….wherever it is. 

 

Update: The quotes from this post came from a book called Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I’m in a bible study right now at church that is based on the book.  It’s very inspiring.

 

For more posts like this, click here.

 

 

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Comments

  1. 1
    LeeAnn says:

    I too am feeling very restless, my work/worry/family balance is out of kilter but I have no idea how to fix it. I think I may need to be brave too x

  2. 2
    Terese Towey says:

    This could not have come at a better time. Thank you for sharing this! You are both brave and wise!

  3. 3
    Michelle says:

    Interesting timing of this post! I just watched the movie Revolutionary Road…I’d choose your story over that one any day!

  4. 4
    Katie says:

    I’ve never posted here before, though I read it occasionally. However, this hit home for me. I am currently a law student, and while I am certain that a legal career is the right path for me, I have no desire to work for a firm and trade my life for economic success. A healthy work-life balance is one of my top priorities as I look to begin my career. After all, what good is a large salary if you never have the time to enjoy it?

  5. 6
    kellyj says:

    This may be the best post yet………

  6. 7
    Stephanie T says:

    This could be my favorite post ever–the feeling of relief in your voice is contagious and comforting.

  7. 8
    Sharon Collins says:

    My favorite post. My husband & I did something similar 11 years ago. I loved it. A best friend in walking distance & more sewing than in awhile. We both took hourly paying jobs, one car, & a very tight budget. My family thought I lost my mind. I was eight hours from my family & 12 hours from my in laws.

    I could not have done it with a small child. You did the right thing for you. I am inspired by you. When I look at others, I wonder if the sacrifices I made were worth all I missed with my kids.

    You could be my child. You are an inspiration to me EVERY TIME I read your blog. Thank you. I still try to please every one & at times I am miserable. I share nothing with my family.

    Thank you again. Have a blessed weekend.

  8. 9
    Julie Hodges says:

    *Smile*

  9. 10
    tracy thomson says:

    Why does it feel like you post these AWE inspiring things… at exactly the time I need to hear them every time.. Thanks for being who you are and sticking with truly being you <3 You are such an inspiration to so many of us…

  10. 11
    Michele says:

    I swear that you must be guided to share these things with us at the perfect time, to strike a cord in so many people. I, too, feel like I am at a crossroads. Stuck in a job where I am underpaid, not valued at all, where at the end of the day I barely have anything left for my family. For what purpose? For a company that couldn’t care less about me? For money to buy stuff that doesn’t matter. I feel like I am selling my souls at the expense of my children.

    Perfect example – last night I worked 10pm to 5:30 am to make a deadline. I got 1 hour of sleep before I had to get up and do it all again. The physical toll that I feel on my body alone just shows how ridiculous it all is. There was barely acknowledgement of my effort. So I ask myself…. Why? For what? Will this matter in 5 years?

    Need to do a lot of soul searching, prioritization and praying!

    Blessings to you and your family!

  11. 12
    Dayna says:

    I am also up late at night now, working on something for a deadline for the office. Why am I doing this? Thank you for writing this. I’m not sure what the next step is for me, but I am ready to take the first blind step and trust God with the rest. Thank you for sharing your story…you are very brave!

  12. 13
    Ellie says:

    Success is not measured by the amount of money you have or the amount of material possessions you own (or should I say the credit card companies own), Success is doing something you love and enjoy! Don’t let the corporate world eat you up, it only gives you stress and stress makes you SICK!
    If you have children, they are only little for such a short time. What will their memories of you be? Daddy/Mommy were never home, they were always working? You’ll never get that time back and before you know it you’re kids are gone from home and you’re hair is greying.
    Have you taken the time to notice how the sun is shinning through the window casting a warm, comforting light in the room, or sit outside and listen to the birds singing? I was blessed to be able to stay at home with my kids and make memories. We are retired now and blessed again to make memories with our little grandkids! No, we aren’t wealthy by any means,, but we have what we need to get by…love and happiness!! The rest takes care of itself.
    Thank you Ashley, our life has also taken many turns. “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven” .

  13. 14
    Kayla says:

    Thank you.

  14. 15
    Debbie K says:

    I am so glad I stopped here today. I wanted to use my limited internet time well on this morning, my birthday, before I go to work. I thought of you, who always chooses joy. I got so much more than that in a few short paragraphs! So much to think about, and all positive. Thank you!

  15. 16
    Bri says:

    WOW… You said what my heart and mind have not been able to articulate in the 5 years since I left my “dream job” in pharmaceutical sales. You put words to that feeling, that calling that is so difficult and scary to explain. THANK YOU for being the voice and words. You are AWESOME and BRAVE and CRAZY!!!!!

    <3 Bri~

  16. 17
    Joelle says:

    Today’s society pushes us all to feel that we have to earn 6 figures, drive expensive vehicles, vacation in exotic lands, carry fancy electronics and eat at 5 star restaurants to be happy and successful. This is a lie. Get rid of the cell phone, the iPad, cable or satellite TV, walk more often, play games and go on local adventures, eat home-made whole foods and never stop learning new things and you will be happy and successful in a much more real way. Why do 4 people who take up 4 square feet of space at any given moment (at most) need 2500 square feet to live in? Ask yourself if you really need a living room AND a family room, if you really need more bathrooms than you have people, if you need both a formal dining room and an eat-in kitchen and a breakfast nook. Now go take a look at realtor listings and look for a house that only fills your true needs and see how much you’d save on your mortgage. In fact if you buy two small homes instead of that “dream” house you can charge enough rent on the one to pay off both in most instances which gives you a steady income – can your dream home provide you with income? The answer is simple, stop letting advertising companies make your decisions for you, stop latting how a celebrity lives affect how satisfied you are with your own life – they might look like they have it all but they pay with never getting any privacy, being judged for their every move, word or look and constantly being hounded. Sure a big house is great for entertaining, but a small house makes the entertaining more intimate and meaningful. I have held to this belief for the entirety of my life and although I don’t have much, I have contentment.

  17. 18
    Cindi says:

    Wow! You are all inspiring. You have been blessed with encouragement and also the gift to express it so well. Love your blog…..

  18. 19
    Shivaun says:

    From John O’Donohue’s poem:
    “For a New Beginning”

    “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.”

  19. 20
    ira lee says:

    thank you for sharing!!!!! really, just thank you. and now here is my rant. im having a bad day, bad week, bad months. i’ve been burnt out on my medical job for about 6 years. it affects my mood. im weaning myself off anti depresants ive been on for about 10 years. i would love to quit my job. but what would i do? i want to teach art to high schoolers. that’s a huge pay cut and that’s why i stay. its scary. so thank you for sharing! its the strength i needed.

  20. 21
    Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing, Ashley. I’ve had a heavy heart with issues the same as many people have already said. I’m not as brave as you, but you’re an inspiration. I’m stuck for now. But maybe someday I can gather my courage and make a positive change.

  21. 22
    Heather D says:

    I’m so glad you speak straight from the heart.

    I have a story of my own. I wanted a business degree forever. Ever! I finally got one, put my husband and I into a spiral of debt, and ended up getting a job that I love where I don’t even USE my education. It was such a turbulent few years to get my degree. I never really felt like my time was blessed, but I was so stubborn and thought that’s what I wanted, that I went for it. Now that it’s over and I’m about 75k in debt, I wish so badly that I had tuned my heart to God and listened to His ideas for my life. It’s sort of like..here I am… and He’s saying to me “Now will you listen to me?” Wakeup call!

  22. 23

    This is beautiful! And so true! I actually just quit my job. I quit to focus on my little ones. I felt like I needed something…I don’t know…different. I felt GOD leading me to something different. You summed up so many of the things I have been feeling. The crazy part made me laugh because people might actually think that about me right now. I’ve been getting a lot of “And you are going to do what nos?!” They may not think crazy, but perhaps a radical viewpoint of “life is short, so don’t waste your time with things that don’t bring you joy”. I fear some feel I let grief make the decision for me having lost my dad suddenly to cancer. It wasn’t grief though…it was a God thing. My job wasn’t bringing me joy. My kids do! Simple as that.

  23. 24
    Andrea says:

    I find you to be very inspirational. I love reading your blog and really appreciate your openness about your beliefs. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to leave your ‘dream’ life behind but it really does inspire me. I’ve struggled a lot in the past with jobs I’ve had and the unhappiness that has gone along with them. I finally found one where I am truly happy, but unfortunately a number of struggles have come with that. Reading this post gave me a sense of peace about things for the moment.

  24. 25
    krista walker says:

    My Mom died of May 13th. She was diagnosed with cancer and died 6 days later. I came to CA to be with her in the hospital before we knew it was terminal. I left behind the craziness of carpools,field trips,work,after school activites,making dinner,cleaning the big house,blah,blah,blah. And I just sat with my mom for 6 days, mostly in solitude. I didn’t worry about what was going on back home. I didn’t even care. I stayed up all night holding my mom’s hand (it was mother’s day) and I sang to her as she slowly slipped away to God. The moment I left the hospital I was determined to make my life simpler. The first big step is we got our house ready (that took 6 months!) and we’ve put it on the market. We are downsizing, moving closer to school and activites. My husband isn’t crazy about where we’re moving. But I got him to board the simplify train and we’re going full steam ahead. We’ve been looking at cars so we can get rid of our gas guzzling Tahoe. It’s funny when that “moment” happens. That moment of clarity where you’re like….what am I doing?
    Thanks for this post!
    Krista