Why I Had to Take a Break From My Doctorate

Remember when I gave yall tips on balancing your grind and self-care? Somehow, I didn't follow them like I should have, and two weeks before I was slated to start my next class in May, I dropped it. And let me tell you- it has been the blessing I never knew I needed.

This post is for the person who realizes or is beginning to realize an abundance of ambition can be a gift and curse. For the person who may feel a little in over their head but is too ashamed to admit they need to rest. For the person who's ashamedly or unashamedly a workaholic and realizes it's not all it's cracked up to be. For the person who may view rest and balance as weakness. #findrest #sabbath #strongfriend #mentalhealth #ambition #superwoman #no #anxiety

Spring time at my job is "busy season." From March on, I found myself using the word "NO" less than I would have liked. I knew I was out of order but couldn't bring myself to stop. I told myself, "Even though I know I shouldn't, I can say yes just this one time" except, that became pretty regular. On top of that, my doctoral class, at the time, was VERY writing and research intensive AND on a topic that I was incredibly unfamiliar with. I was having to read hundreds of pages of text before I could even begin any of the 3 assignments due each week. At work, I was being asked to read countless books to help spearhead some new initiatives too. The books kept piling up on my desk day after day, and I reached a state of cognitive overload.

One weekend, as a college final project neared, I sat in my bed overwhelmed at all that was going on. My class would end on the next Friday, and a new one begin 3 days later. I saw no end in sight, and I realized I was going to be on vacation for 11 days where I'd have to take my schoolwork with me. WHAT A TERRIBLE WAY TO BE ON VACATION! The alternative was to grind REALLY hard and be 2 weeks ahead in my coursework. The thought alone was sending me over the edge. My anxiety was increasing. I felt dejected.The incomplete tasks and pressures I was putting on myself from seeing things pile up was honestly causing inner turmoil. I began to truly be concerned about my health because I was caught in this perpetual cycle of mental exhaustion.

I'd had enough. I logged in to my college website and dropped my class. I knew that if I didn't take a break, get refreshed, and reset- something drastic would happen. You know what I also knew? Crushed by the weight of all the pressures I was putting on myself, I felt distant from God.

I got to the point where Monday started, and I woke up wishing it was Friday or wishing it was Tuesday so I could take a nap LOL. Imagine that? Scheduling you'r naps once a week because you're so busy. Saying yes to things I shouldn't have meant more time at work, which meant less time in my daily prayers and bible studying. When I got home, I was too exhausted to pray, so I was inconsistent.

  An inconsistent walk with God yields an unstable Christian.

Can you relate to my struggle? You know what I'm realizing, I struggle with anxiety, and most of it is self-imposed. Organization is a gift and a curse. Sometimes, I become so organized and thoughtful that it actually overwhelms me. I put pressures on myself to complete a superhuman amount of tasks in an unreasonable time, and in a world that values superhuman ambition and devalues mental health, I had few coping mechanisms for balancing everything. Through self-reflection, I realized I feel like I'm weak if I admit I can't handle something I've been asked .I continue to struggle with work-life balance. "Yes." remains an overused sentence in my life.

When I would take time to think about where I was struggling, here's where I wavered:
I knew God had called me to pursuing a doctorate, to being an Instructional Coach, to being a mentor to young women, etc. These were all the tasks I became consumed with doing. If God called me to them, why was I so overwhelmed? A perpetual state of exhaustion COULDN'T be His desire for me; I knew better. 1 Peter 5:6 admonishes Christians to humble ourselves and cast our cares on Him. I knew I needed to slow down and readjust, but my pride was telling me I was superwoman and could do it all. What a trick of the enemy. So when I finally sat down to re-evaluate where I was, I sensed the Holy Spirit remind me that HE called me to do these things FOR Him and WITH Him, not independent of Him. 

Oftentimes, God foretells us of something He has for us, and at the first sound of it, we take it and run with it based on what we think it should look like. The results seldom are good.

CC: Abraham and Sarah's plan to fulfill God's promise by forcing Hagar to birth a child for them, instead of waiting for God to lead them through His steps for them to birth what He promised.
I'm coming up on the end of my 6 week sabbatical, and I'd be lying if I said I was excitedly awaiting the next semester to begin. I've TRULY enjoyed my 6 week break, and I feel incredibly rested and rejuvenated. Here's what I know: When God allows you to get to the point of "rock bottom," getting up and restarting should always look different than the first time you made the journey. AND the biggest difference should be pressing in to Him and truly journeying alongside Him.

What I mean is this: After rock bottom, reassess how you got there and put guardrails up on this journey of life to disallow the mess you just got out of. 

One of my biggest revelations in this season is this: "Yes, I have the capability and intelligence to do XYZ, but if God hasn't specifically called me to focus on doing that, I have to save my "yes" for what He indeed has told me to spend time doing."

I'm walking into July with a new awareness of habitual rest, saying "no," asserting myself and my boundaries, prioritizing, and being unashamed to say "I mentally can't take all of this on." 

In times that you needed rest, what were some life lessons you learned?

Learning the True Principle of Rest,

PS Revisit the site in 2 weeks for a post on resources and practices that strengthened me during my 6 week sabbatical
Dear God, I pray for anyone reading this post who feels they're deep into an anxious mess and have nowhere to turn. Help them to understand that You have plans to prosper us and never to harm us. Your ways are not our ways; they're always exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or think. Help us all to realize, despit what society says, You truly value rest and sabbath. What's the point of achieving a great name according to man, but doing it without your approval and independent of You? I pray this post encourages each and every reader to re-evaluate their life practices and ensure they're pressing in to You; walking lockstep every step of the way. Thank you for what You're doing in our lives. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.