Clarity Cultivates Rest
Anxiety grows when confusion dominates the landscape.
Have you ever been in a meeting where the group spends 45 minutes deliberating but makes no progress? Why does that happen?
There is no clarity on who is leading the meeting, what the goal of the meeting is, or how to handle differences of opinion when they arise (because they always do.) Everyone leaves frustrated, time was wasted, and another meeting will be scheduled. Exhausting!
Or how about on a personal level? You wake up with several appointments on the calendar, multiple items on your To Do List, and energy to get it all done. However, at the end of the day, little has been accomplished. Disappointing and frustrating!
What happened? Likely, you didn’t have clarity on what was your main priority of the day, so the day got hijacked by distractions.
In our spiritual lives, the role of clarity takes a different shape. While we desire to be growing as a child of God and cultivating fruitful lives in Christ, we find our prayer lives dry, community a struggle, and our time with God a challenge. We are tired, anxious, and unsatisfied. Why?
Likely, we are believing lies, are confused about what a Godly life looks like, and are placing “shoulds” on ourselves God did not ask us to carry. We need clarity. Who is God? What does He say about us? How do I live as a follower of Christ?
The following four steps can help you gain clarity in those areas of life that are causing you unrest.
Identify the areas where confusion, anxiety, or dissatisfaction lie.
Take note of your mental and emotional state over the course of the next week. What is triggering confusion, anxiety, or restlessness?
This is a time to be curiously observant. Simply take notes. You do not want to criticize yourself, make judgments on your observations, or spiral into a negative mindset. Just like a doctor asks questions and runs tests before diagnosing a patient, you want to take the time to gather information before moving forward.
Imagine a woman, Lily, who works from home part-time and cares for her children. Lately, she has not been sleeping well. While her days are full and busy, in the evening she feels dissatisfied and anxious. In her work, she feels unproductive and unqualified.
The following week she begins to implement step one in gaining clarity. She notices that during the day there are constant interruptions to her work as she tends her children. This lack of continuity leaves her feeling frustrated and behind. In addition, Lily recognizes that she is lonely. Though she is often on video calls or engaged with her children, she longs to sit at a coffee shop and catch up with a friend.
For this step, these observations are all that is required. When we are more attuned to our life rhythms and our response to them, we can gain the clarity we need.
Assess your expectations in contrast to your reality.
Are there areas of your life where you are experiencing disappointment or discouragement? Often when this happens, we have unspoken expectations that are not being met. We know that we should not compare our lives to the lives of others. However, more often, our tripping point is when we begin to compare our ideal situation with our reality. Again, take of note of these observations with a mindset of curiosity and compassion. You are learning how to gain clarity on what is important to you and how to begin making space in your life to pursue it.
If you look at Lilly again, we see how to implement this step.
When she decided to stay home with the kids and work part-time, Lily expected to be able to have a quiet office and a couple of hours of uninterrupted time to work. However, her reality looks like a computer on the kitchen table while the kids play nearby on the living room rug. While she hoped for evenings to get out with her friends, Lily is too exhausted to add more to her schedule. Her expectations do not match her reality, but now she is aware of the incongruency. This is powerful knowledge!
Decide what is most important to you about this area of your life.
In the previous step, you may have identified some desires, goals, or dreams you have for your situation. What core values are arising from your reflections? Are your behaviors, choices, and relationships reflecting these core values?
Evaluating your core values and priorities takes time and self-evaluation. It is wise to set aside time to pray and seek God during this step. Ask Him to give you discernment as you look at your life, His purposes for you, and the core values that impact your decisions.
For Lily, this step offers her important insights.
Sitting down with her observations, Lily now realizes that her work is very important to her, but she is not able to fully commit to it in her current situation. While she does not want to return to full-time employment, she needs additional help and adjustments to her home life to make working from home possible. In addition, Lily understands the energizing and encouraging role her friends have in her life. Moving forward, she wants to create space in her schedule to cultivate those friendships.
Gaining clarity on what is most important to Lily equips her to move into the decision-making process of facilitating change in her life.
Determine what steps you need to take to begin cultivating that value.
This step has two parts: setting boundaries and asking for help.
Yes or No
In step one, ask, “What do I need to say “no” to in order to pursue my “yes”?” This step is critical in the clarity process. A wise and timely “no” creates space in our lives for us to pursue the most important “yes.” While this step takes courage, the peace of mind and confidence gained is invaluable.
What does this look like?
In Lily’s case, she needs healthy boundaries in her life to balance her work and family time. She may need to say “no” to working at certain times of the day, so she can fully enjoy being a mom. Then, when the kids are occupied in the afternoon with naps or a babysitter, Lily can fully commit to a chunk of work time.
What about her social life? Lily needs to say “no” to her own expectations of having the energy to go out on a weeknight. Instead, she can adjust that expectation and say “yes” to scheduling time with her friends on the weekend.
In step two, ask “do I need support in order to pursue clarity and make changes?”
Setting new boundaries, creating habits, and changing mindsets take a lot of work. In fact, these changes can spur pushback from others and even ourselves.
Now that you have clarity, what do you need in order to implement change?
There are many places you can turn for support:
- Prayer: Seek God’s wisdom, counsel, strength, and comfort as you move forward.
- Loved Ones: Have a conversation with the residents of your home and your closest friends. Share with them what you have learned and what you are trying to accomplish. You will need a team to implement clarity and cultivate rest.
- Hire Help: Assess your finances and your need. Would hiring someone help you implement your plan?
- Accountability: Ask a close friend to partner with you as you make this change. They can pray for you, ask how you are doing, and remind you of what is most important.
Lily is ready to cultivate rest by making changes. She is clear on how she wants her workday to look and how to incorporate friends into her life. Now, she needs help. After talking to her husband, they hire a babysitter to come twice a week for two hours to help Lily get work done. During this time, Lily uses a room at the library. It’s quiet, and she can stay focused.
However, to make these changes stick for the long haul, she knows more support is needed. Lily reaches out to her friends and asks if they want to set up a regular coffee date. This is just the motivation and encouragement she needs!
For now, Lily has reached clarity in two areas of her life, and she has created a way to problem solve in the future when the need arises. As she implements her plan over the course of the next few months, she feels a sense of relief and a rising level of energy. While the road is not without bumps, Lily has the support structures in place to help her cultivate renewed mental and emotional rest.
Clarity cultivates rest as we make progress. When you begin to recognize areas of your life where unrest and dissatisfaction are growing, stop to identify the trouble spots. Evaluate your expectations in relation to your reality. Then, take the time to define your values. Finally, as you decide what steps to take to implement change, gather your support team!
Clarity is not an easy button or a quick fix. However, it is a powerful tool that informs our decision-making and allows us to make progress on what is most important to us. Where clarity lives, we cultivate rest.
Would you like a FREE resource to help you cultivate clarity in 2022? Click here to download the 5 Tools to Cultivate Clarity.
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