Don’t try harder. Try different. That was the theme of my sabbatical this summer.
We know what we know. We build habits around what we know. When we encounter problems, we do what we know to solve them. Unfortunately, when our handy dandy tools aren’t working, we keep using the shovel to dig a deeper rut. That’s when we need to stop what we’re doing and try something else. Something different.
For me, the first thing different was taking an extended break. My schedule had become busy and the demands so great that it was taking a physical and emotional toll. Of course, my personal struggles had a negative effect on my marriage. Thankfully my regular time with Jesus sustained me with grace, as other pressures bore down heavily. A different routine provided freedom to stop, to take stock of what was really going on, not from the surface, but on a deeper level. The insights I gained provided the impetus for trying different.
There is something powerful about a change of scenery. A change in routine and location provided a break from the habits I had established. This allowed me to step back from the situations in which I was so closely involved, and gain a different perspective. My focus was able to broaden, and I saw the bigger picture and things I had missed.
Because my limited knowledge is what helped to get me where I was, I needed to stop doing what I’d always done and find some new tools. I found people that knew what I needed to know. I read books that addressed my situation. However, developing real, live relationships with others created accountability, ensuring I actually put the new tools into practice.
I confess, I had allowed a negative attitude about myself and my situations to dominate my thinking. While I know the Scriptures and can quote many of them, they were not what my soul was anchored to. It was time to remember who I am in Christ, and make that the truth by which I live. It was also time to remember who I want to be. I had lost sight of my dreams and desires, things that God had placed in my heart. I dusted them off and re-calibrated my vision.
It might not be feasible for you to take a sabbatical like I did, but I urge you to make time to stop. Step back. Take in the view from a different perspective. Find a mentor, accountability partner, expert, counselor, or coach with the tools you need. Really, it doesn’t matter their title. What’s important is that you glean from their resources. Reconnect with who you are in Christ and His calling.
Rely on the Lord for courage to stop trying harder, and try (and keep trying) different.