The Things We Give Up

I know going into situations that my career will make some things difficult. Friends won’t understand when I’m required to cancel plans and partners won’t appreciate my lack of availability. Yet, everyone says they “understand.” In fact, most people say my ambition and focus are some of the things they like about me the most.

I’m honest, so I try to tell everyone up front that my schedule is crazy. I’m on the road a lot. Things will inevitably change at the last minute. They tell me “it’s okay.” And it is okay, at first. But then, it’s not okay. Little comments start popping up in casual conversations and sometimes things progress to the point that I feel like a failure in my personal life because I’m successful professionally. Everyone has their insecurities. This is one of mine.

If my career is important to me, then my friends must not be. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would love to be a mom, but I can’t be. I would love to not struggle with depression and anxiety, but I do. I would love to have a job where I wake up in the same city more than three nights in a row each week, but I don’t.

We all make sacrifices when we identify our purpose. My purpose is to make people laugh and make their lives better, more focused and more rewarding. I’ve waited my entire life to see how God intended to work my struggles and bad decisions into a manner that would allow me to serve others. Now that I know, it is imperative that I focus.

I know I must come across as selfish when I cancel plans or fail to make them at all. I’m not being selfish because the truth is, there is no one and nowhere that I’d rather be than with my friends and family. If it were up to me, I’d never miss a game or a date. I’d never reschedule a dinner.

Other people live my life inside out. I see parents making sacrifices in their careers to raise families. I think this is to be commended. To be perfectly honest, I am jealous. For my entire life, I foresaw myself being a wife and a mother. The day I found out that this physically was not possible has hurt me for a long time.

It took me a long time to find peace in recognizing that my journey is different. Not better or worse, just different. I’ve heard people say they’d love to do what I do. I’ve told others that I’d love to do what they do.

I am sometimes extremely envious of people who have ‘normal’ lives where they are home every night with the people they love. This is something I need to work through and pray through. But it is what it is. And I need to believe it is this way for a reason. I need to have faith.

Faith makes sacrifice possible. What I have learned is that accepting ‘what is’ makes us more capable of compassion. Our sacrifices enable us to love more deeply.

Never before in my life have I been able to love someone or something so much. Today, I can walk away knowing that I’m not right for this ‘normal’ job or not right for this relationship even though IN THIS moment I so badly want to be.

I am grateful that I’m able to love like this — unselfishly. Sacrificing what I want in order to let another employer find the ‘right’ employee or to let another person find the ‘right’ partner. It hurts, but sacrifice wouldn’t be sacrifice if it were easy.

Sacrifices will honor the lives you change when you do what you need to do. I am humbled by every card or letter I receive that expresses appreciation for what I have done in my professional life. Every single woman, man or child who says, “because of you, I kept going.” “Because of your words, I launched my own business, I reconnected with a friend, I walked away from an unhealthy relationship, I set boundaries, I wrote my book, I went back to school….” Those messages remind me that I can’t stop what I’m doing. It makes my sacrifices worthwhile, although no less difficult.

Focus on making the decisions that bring honor to the people you love, the leaders you respect, and the purpose for which you have been called. It will be hard. It may even be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.

It will take strength and maturity because one day you will have to look at someone else who is living the life that you wanted. They will fill your position. They will take your place.

But, if you are doing what you know to be the right thing, your life will be so fulfilling that you will be able to be sincerely grateful for the person who fills your absence. Most of the time, love is demonstrated in the things we give. Other times, real passion is everything we give up. The right folks will understand and respect both.

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