I resigned from my job yesterday.
Yes – we are in the middle of a recession. Yes – it was on paper a good job. Yes – I need to pay bills.
And I also know that it was a good decision. As soon as I sent the letter, a backpack of burdens fell off my back. I didn’t know how heavy it was until it fell off.
In To Bless the Space Between Us, the poet John O’Donohue speaks to new beginnings in a fresh way, a way that I have never considered:
"In out-of-the-way places of the heart, Where your thoughts never think to wander, This beginning has been quietly forming, Waiting until you were ready to emerge. For a long time it has watched your desire, Feeling the emptiness growing inside you, Noticing how you willed yourself on, Still unable to leave what you had outgrown. It watched you play with the seduction of safety And the gray promises that sameness whispered, Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent, Wondered would you always live like this. Then the delight, when your courage kindled, And out you stepped onto new ground...."
I first read the poem over a month ago and the words on playing with the “seduction of safety and the gray promises that sameness whispered…” began going through my mind on repeat. This was me. I knew I had outgrown this organization a long time ago, but I’m a sticker if nothing else. I never quit, even when perhaps I should.
So I stuck, and I gossiped and I whined and – well you get the picture. It has not been pretty nor has it been healthy. Writing and submitting my letter of resignation is an act of faith and an acknowledgement that leaving this position is an important step forward.
When I first began writing publicly, I relayed a poignant story that Sheila Walsh told of her son wanting to leave home at the tender age of six. Evidently he set out with his backpack and jacket, heading toward a pond near home. She, wanting to allow freedom but aware of his young age, kept a watchful eye from a window where she could ensure safety as well as give him his independence. After a short time he was back at the door, offering no explanation other than a six-year-old going on sixteen response of “It’s good to be home!”
Later that night as she was tucking him in, she brought up the adventure and asked him about it. His response was matter of fact “I would have gone farther but my backpack was too heavy.”
As I listened to her, I was overwhelmed by the truth in this retelling of the story and a child’s simple comment. The times that I would go farther except my backpack is too heavy – the things I carry too weighty.
I love the story and I love the visual picture.
My resignation is my way of shedding the load that is keeping me back, an active way of saying “I can go farther without this heavy backpack.” With it, I step into a new place and I accept what comes.
There will be growing pains, of course. There will be times of fear and some self accusation. But right now, there is so much delight, there is peace, and there is so much grace.
Here’s to entering the “grace of new beginnings.”
You can read the entire poem here.