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Burn Out or Divine Discontent
by Maxine Thompson

They say that every seven years we change. I believe that spiritually, this is true. When I look back over my resume, I see that many of my life transitions (from job transfers within the same department, to relocation to a new city) occurred after about a seven year cycle. I've also read that sometimes it takes a while for our psyche to catch up with the new person who we have evolved into over this seven year period.

From this I gleaned another truth. I have never changed without becoming very discontent first. Obviously, my authentic self will have changed when my outer self remained the same. When it is time for us to grow, we become restless. I wish I could say, I'm this natural risk-taker, this pathfinder, or trailblazer. But I'm not. I hate change. I'm a creature of habit and a moderate-risk taker. I weigh everything, (try to pay my bills down, wrote 2 novels while working full time, prepared for a career change, etc.) Now, I'm realizing that to reach your dreams, if you're a play it safe person, (like me), sometimes you need to get ''burnt-out'' to make you change! And you have to take a leap of faith. You can't know what God has in mind for you and how He will work out all the details of your dream!

To illustrate my point, a year ago, I had no idea that I would end up writing an Internet column, On The Same Page. But I'm glad I didn't have the plan down pat. Spirit has surprised me! Yet it is in sync with my deep desires. I'm a reader, writer, and lover of words. Why not help other writers, as well as myself, get exposure for our work?

This brought me to this truth. Any major change I've made has been preceded by a period of total emotional burn-out. I'm talking true ''fried,'' (brain dead).

Over the years, I've come to this point at different forks in the road. Generally, out of a misguided sense of duty, I'd stick to a job when I no longer liked it. I'd push myself to a point that I'd become so emotionally exhausted I couldn't put one foot in front of the other. Also, I'd be in a lot of pain. This pain told me something was wrong. But often, I would fix myself to stay where I was, which was the source of this pain.

In the past, I used to attribute this to working in a field with human problems. Oh, the guilt I felt when I would have to take a leave of absence, (2 in all, that weren't maternity leaves)! I would feel like I was a failure because I could not live up to everyone's expectations of me. How dare I rock the boat? After all, I was the family social worker. Or how would my clients make it without me? In addition, when I would come to this point, I'd let down people (bosses) who had come to depend on my hard work. Moreover, I surprised family members who previously saw me as responsible. ''Are you sure you don't want to go back to social work?'' When I responded, ''I'm working on my new novel,'' I'd hear their silent shock.

Fortunately, now, what I used to call ''burn-out,'' I know is simply a case of ''Divine Discontent.'' I've come to realize that it is only when we go against the grain of what other's expect from us, or even become failures in other's eyesight, that we go through our major milestones! This is because our spirit rebels against doing the things which are no longer in sync with our life's purpose.

The other realization I had is that when I am content, I stay at the same level. Looking back, for years I was content as a social worker. It afforded me a living. It allowed me to raise my children in their own homes. It paid my bills. However, now that I am venturing into this precarious world of freelance writing and publishing, I think my tenure as a social worker brought me something deeper. It gave me a chance to observe human nature in all of its complexity, which I feel has contributed to my writing. But to stay in that field, I would not grow to the next level.

For all my major milestones have been my failures. Sad to say, I don't go through a learning curve when I am doing well. I think Ruby Dee said it best. ''God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.''



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