Recently I was given the opportunity to speak at a conference in TX about how to flourish in every area of life, even when it does not feel like you are flourishing at all. This topic was really real to me after coming out of a 12 year battle with infertility. I really had to learn how to do this well to keep my peace through those years.
Maybe you’re not in a dry place where you feel like giving up or want to quit or don’t know which way to turn. Maybe you are happily living your life and seeing answers to prayer everywhere. Either way, these principles are the ones I turn to when I’m feeling great or feeling low because they keep me stable no matter what is going on around me.
Here’s what I told the ladies at the conference, and they were an assorted bunch with all types of stories we could probably write books about so I thought it may be relevant to share what I said with you too!
My life goal is to Inspire, Encourage and Transform other’s lives. So that’s what this message is all about. It’s about helping us find the inspiration to have greater life purpose, to hear words that lift us up and to find the answers that get us unstuck in the stuck places of life.
If you want more inspiration or to hear my backstory you can read it in my previous blog on how I got pregnant after 12 years of trying. I think that will be great to read as an extra boost before digging into this post but either way let’s get into it…
The first thing I want you to know is that flourishing has not been easy for me, it’s been a super hard battle. I’m not one of those people who is naturally a non-worrier or gifted in being positive all the time. This takes a consistent and focused effort for me to find that happy place.
So if you don’t always feel like you are on top of the world, I get it. It’s a discipline that comes easier for some of us than others.
I remember a time when I was sitting in our living room parsonage (house attached to our church) next to a newly pregnant girl, wanting to relate to her so badly. But feelings of inadequacy began to battle my confidence, Can i do this? What do I really know about pregnancy? I haven’t been able to get pregnant for years. Will she trust me as her pastor’s wife or spiritual leader?
The war was intense.
Anything but being in this situation, a doula role, would have seemed like a better pick for me!
But this is where God had me, serving in the place of my greatest pain and need.
As we began to talk it didn’t get better, in fact, she confirmed her distrust in me with an awkward response to my question, “So how is the pregnancy going?”
Ok, so next topic. I moved on quickly to other areas of life after seeing how guarded she was in this area, changing to subject to something else. This was not easy.
This was 9 or 10 years in and inside, I was a wreck. Behind the scenes…I had multiple surgeries, challenging diet changes and frustrating doctor visits I sure couldn’t afford.
In the forefront, I had to remain “strong” for the congregation, though my health took second place, and my heart was desperately burnt out.
The Good News is…
In this hard, dry place I learned to be content, to be happy, to see the good, to look for any glimmer of hope and to FOCUS on what was going right.
The Good News is…
This was not the End!
A few years before the end something happened. And it happened inside of me. I began to realize that I wasn’t called to suffer this way. I was called to Love God and Love Others as I Love Myself. I was missing one piece. I was not loving myself well! I was not flourishing. I was giving myself away on the altar of sacrifice while my own family and health was on the back burner.
Sometimes, being at our end is a hint to the need for major life changes. I needed to put my health at the forefront. I needed to create more income. Get insurance. Move to a safer area. Set boundaries with church member’s access to me.
But people would think I was selfish, no longer in ministry, no longer serving them. They didn’t know what I was going through behind the scenes and I was doing stuff GOD didn’t call me to do in the first place.
At the end of the day was I going to please people OR GOD? I chose GOD!
As I chose Him my life began to change and I began to THRIVE.
I don’t want you to think everything is perfect now because then I’d be leading you into chasing impossibility or looking for perfection.
I’m still in the process of change, but my life is much more balanced and God keeps showing me when I’m doing too much for others to care for myself or family.
As all this got back into place, I got pregnant and am now 6 months full of a bundle of joy! That flourishing came because I chose to Love God and Love Others as I Love Myself!
The secret is, you and I, we were Made to Flourish. So if we aren’t we ask the question, “What do I need to change God?” “What in my mindset can adjust?” “What in my relationships could be more balanced?”
Am I trying to please everyone else so much that I can’t meet my basic needs?
Then we Let Go. Of the past. Of people’s opinions. Of potentially disappointing others. And we run toward to new us that He shows us.
We were Made to Flourish so if we aren’t all we have to do is adjust a few things, sometimes a lot of things (let’s be real) and then we’re back into a great place again.
Ps 92:12 says The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
There’s a lot I could teach on about this whole palm tree example and being a cedar and flourishing and Lebanon and being righteous…you get the point. But I’m not going to do all that right now because it’s just too much.
I’ll just leave you with 3 Mental Focal Points from this Scripture, to keep your mind on when you are trying to flourish:
- You are Righteous. Righteous means you are free from guilt or sin (in the Webster’s Dictionary). This means you are right with God. But how could you say that Jade, if only you knew what I did today, yesterday, last year. I get it. I feel the same way about myself. Ultimately we are right with God because of His Son, Jesus Christ, not because of our own actions good or bad. We can’t make ourself right with Him by doing a lot of good for other people even though I’m sure He appreciates it. And we can’t make ourself right with Him by feeling guilty or beating ourselves up. We are right because He says we are right and that’s it!
- I know I said it before but You are Made to Flourish. Flourish means to bud, sprout, shoot, bloom, blossom, spread, break out, break forth, spring abundantly. This is one of my favorite quotes. I saw it again right before I went to share this in Texas, on an outdoor garden sign right outside of my hotel. Isn’t that crazy! There it was, the word BLOOM. BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.
Wherever He has placed you, the family you are in, the marriage you’re in, the children you have, the money you have, the home you live in, what you’re good at, BLOOM RIGHT THERE with what you have. That’s one of the major keys to flourishing, when we have this in focus.
(add video of me opening my new book or holding it in my hand, blooming where I am planted)
3. Your Mistakes are Stepping Stones to Your Destiny. As you are blooming you will make mistakes, we all do and it’s okay. As long as we don’t get stuck on the mistakes we make and let others keep us there. We have to move on at some point and learn from the past in life, ministry, marriage, being parents, sometimes we feel guilt or shame or unworthy but this does not disqualify us. It just adds to why we are so relatable to others that God wants us to talk to. If I can write words of hope anyone can. I’ve messed up a lot which means I’ve learned a lot but I don’t share because I’m perfect, I share because I’m His and I’m called.
Ok so that’s all I’m going to share from what I told my new friends in TX but I’ll leave you with 7 more thoughts that are really practical and hopefully you can try one or two of them to help you BLOOM:
- Compassion Over Comparison. It’s easy to start comparing your impact, how good of a mom you’re being, your marriage and personality to other women. Geesh, we get caught up in comparing ourself to other people’s LIFE and this trap brings us down quick! But when we live in vulnerable community it’s easier to see that all women have life challenges behind the scene.
- Count Your Blessings: Thank God for what you have with a joy list. I started doing this in college and it only takes 2 minutes to write down everything you’re happy for, but I always run out of time because that list is usually way longer than what’s bothering me.
- Work with What You have: When’s the last time you’ve done a Gift Inventory? What is your gift? What resources do you already have? Crafting, Writing, Speaking, Social Media, Fashion, A Camera, Churches in your Care, A team of Women? Remember, your impact doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Let’s make the most of what we have.
- Find a Strong Support System: Pray for a mentor or a friend that understands you, women that won’t add to your burden but will “get you” without judging your situation.
- Set Healthy Boundaries: What areas do you need to say not to, write a list of what you spend your time doing in ministry and ask God if that call has expired or if there’s things He never wanted you to do. I had to realize I can’t step in proxy of God for every need. Some of it He’ll meet directly or send someone else to meet.
- Do Fun Stuff: When I share this with women they start shouting lol. But for real, go shopping, try new recipes, watch a movie, get your nails done with a friend, get a massage. Your entire life should not just be work, work, work. Let’s add some play!
- Take Vacations and Weekend Getaways: For Marriage, Family, Girlfriend Trips. It takes some planning and maybe a few less trips to fast food restaurants but girl you’ll be happy with drink in your hand, the sun shining on your new bathing suit and a shore line as far as your eye can see!
And there you have it, my story plus some really practical ways to Bloom right where you are, even if that
is was a wilderness!
Hugs, Sweetness and Lots of Love,
By the way…I have a new book coming out in September called The Ferguson Dilemma. It will be available on this website, www.JadeLee.org and it’s own website (coming soon). I can’t wait to share this with you all it has so much information on how to heal, especially in the area of understanding people who are different than you ethnically!
Here’s a pic of it!
Also, my husband Corey and I will be speaking at Imagine 2017 in September. If you’re in ministry this is a conference that you don’t want to miss! This is where I’ll be releasing my book for the first time too, so exciting! It’s in Chattanooga, TN and it’s $75 to register but worth every penny.