There are no three words in the English language that inspire greater courage than these: You're not alone.
I was sitting in a therapy session not too long ago and ashamed to admit something to my counselor. Even though it was his job to not judge me or tell anybody about what goes on in that office, I didn't want to tell him this.
When I finally opened up, sharing something of which I was deeply ashamed, he told me he had experience a similar struggle for years. Immediately, I felt a weight lift off me.
I wasn't alone, after all.
Every time I hear someone else's story of struggle, I realize something. I don't have to do this on my own. We all get stuck sometimes, wondering if anyone truly understands. And at times like these, it's easy to feel like it's up to you.
But that's not true. We all need community. “No man is an island,” John Donne wrote. Something magical happens when we take a look around and realize other people are right there with us.
Finding ourselves in community
Recently, I hosted a lunch in which about a dozen people of all ages sat around a table and shared one thing they were working on and one big struggle they had. Do you know what we all learned from that table?
Nobody sat at that table and said, “You know, I've got it all figured it out. I just don't struggle.” No one.
There's something beautiful about realizing we aren't the only ones who have kids that don't listen or books that don't sell or creative ideas that stay stuck in our heads. There's something satisfying about seeing other people struggle, too.
For me, it's just nice to know that I'm not alone.
One the things that's been fun recently is to see people read The Art of Work and share how the words have made them feel (read them here in the comments from last week's post):
This book has been such a benefit for me. This author has been through the trenches to bring together a book that is alive with insight that can only come from experience. The sentences were infused with personal knowledge wrought on the battlefield of trials and tribulation. I am so glad that I was able to come across this. The book's emphasis on following your passion and not giving up is more than your usual self-help mantras. Thank you Jeff for your expertise and you are an inspiration to continue to follow my passion of writing.
I've been in a ten foot hole for the past year after losing a good paying job. Not matter how hard to try, I can't seem to get out of this hole. I have been trying to get a freelance writing and editing business going since then. When this book was released, I knew it was something I needed to read. It kept calling to me. I finished reading it a couple of days ago and haven't stopped thinking about what I've read… These stories have motivated me and made me focus on what my calling is. In fact, I have so many ideas swirling around in my head that I don't even know where to start. If you aren't sure what you were called to do in life, this book is strongly recommended!
If you are wondering what you’re called to do/to be and what your life legacy is supposed to be, I highly recommend Jeff’s book. If you think you’ve already arrived at your calling, you may want to consider reading The Art of Work to find out if there’s something new to discover (like I did). This book would also be great for a group discussion. I would even recommend employers buy copies for their employees. If they love their job, it may renew their passion. If they hate their job, it may encourage them to move on to something new, opening a space in your office for someone who will love their job. Pastors could use the book to encourage their ministry teams to find their purpose and calling. I wish I’d had this book when I was a high school senior. I could have saved myself a bunch of time and money had I known what these pages hold. Honestly, I would recommend this book to everyone.
(And congrats to “BTripp” on winning the $100 Amazon gift card recently for his review of my book. He raised some great critical thoughts and offered some helpful feedback.)
It's a strange thing to write a book. To pour your heart out on the page (well, really it was a screen) and wait a year for people to read those words and tell you if it resonated. It's a tremendous act of faith. And yet, when it happens — when a connection is made — it makes me realize why I do this.
I write books to not feel alone and to hopefully help others feel the same.
Feeling like you're all alone?
If you're feeling alone and looking to be encouraged in your journey, you should pick up a copy of The Art of Work and listen in to my new podcast, which is chock full of insights on the process of finding your calling.
For your convenience, here is a link to every episode so you can binge listen, if you want:
- 01 Welcome
- 02 Listening To Your Life
- 03 Accidental Apprenticeships
- 04 Painful Practice
- 05 Building Bridges
- 06 Pivot Points
- 07 The Portfolio Life
- 08 Your Magnum Opus
- 09 Your Calling is Never Done
- 10 When You’ve Called It Finished
Check out the new podcast here.
When was a time when you felt all alone but then realized you weren't? Share in the comments (links welcome!).