[image by Maria Keay]

For those who choose to take the journey, it is lifelong. The longer the journey, the more nuances it takes on and the more it opens up to broader experiences. Yet, a journey must progress step by step. So it is with our spiritual journey. (pp. xvii, The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith by Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich).

I have been meditating on Exodus 17:1 for a good eight years now. The idea of journeying from “place to place” or from “stage to stage” as some translations state has always captivated me.

In fact….it brings me a sense of peace and comfort knowing that I am not expected to journey from A to Z (a one chance shot to move from beginning to end, or to have life figured all out), but rather God moves me from place to place as desired. Where I am now is not my final stage in the journey, but rather one step along a path that will continue to guide me throughout my lifetime. Sometimes the stage may require a lengthy stay, and at other times it may be a quick stop. But each stage is designed to equip and prepare me for whatever step lays next. Whether I move forward, backward or lateral…that does not matter. What matters is that stages are just steps along the way in our larger journey. Or in our larger story as Donald Miller would say.

Why all this talk about stages and journey?

Because after seven months in one stage, I am moving on to the next, and I thought I might share what I have learned, and hopefully you may glean some nuggets for your own journey.

In March of 2008 I decided to leave PCEC so that I could move into my own private practice. And now after seven months in my private practice I am moving on again. This time to HopeWorks in Plano, TX. There are several reasons for this, but one thing my wife and I decided early on was that whether or not I stayed in private practice, it was that risk/step to private practice that moved us out of situation we felt stuck in, and into a new breadth of opportunities, as well as new opportunities for discernment.

Why Am I Moving On?

  1. I have learned that I enjoy working more in a collaborative group environment.  Being my own boss was great, but it was also lonely at times.  Being in a group setting allows me to still be my own boss, but in a supportive environment.

  2. Part of the journey has been learning what I am good at, and what I am not so good at.  As well as learning what skills I want to strengthen, and which skills aren’t as strong, nor should be spent inordinate amount of time working on.  What I learned was that though I can do all my own administration (I am pretty organized), I didn’t thrive on doing Quickbooks, scheduling, bills, etc.  In fact, it zapped my energy for much needed areas that I should be devoting my time to (i.e. therapy itself, study, marketing, etc.).  Now I’m in a setting where people who are gifted with billing, scheduling, payments, etc. will take care of all that for me, and I can focus on what I think I do best.  Working with people in a therapeutic setting, as well as providing education for churches, speaking and writing.

  3. I’ve learned that to become the best therapist I need to become it will require that I give all my energy to that.  (A minimum of 10,000 hours according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers).  This new setting allows me to do that, while still allowing me to do the other things I love as I mentioned above (speaking, teaching, writing).

  4. This situation I think allows me to set better boundaries and take better care of my family.  I’m no longer thinking about all the bills and paperwork when I go home at night, because someone does that for me.  I found that because of that I’m more attentive to my wife and daughter.  And shouldn’t I be practicing that if I’m going to be telling couples and families they need to be doing the same thing?

  5. I really do get the best of both worlds: I’m still my own boss, set my own schedule, building what is essentially my own practice/clientele, but in a group setting under the auspice of HopeWorks.  I love it.

I am already seeing new clients at HopeWorks, but will also continue to see current clients in my private practice until the end of January. I would appreciate your prayers…as well as any referrals to me, or any opportunities you may have for me to speak, teach, or write.

So I feel very blessed and content believing that this is what stage God has me in along my journey. And even though at times I feel like I should be farther along, or because at times I feel like a failure because I moved on to a new place in seven months…I’m at peace knowing that life is full of nuances, and to fully live life we must be prepared to move where God leads us…even if it’s not what we had expected. My father and I were discussing a while back that the longer we live life, the more we realize that God provides us with opportunities in areas that we have never expected or envisioned if it were left up to our own making.

So a key to our journey…to writing our story well, is to be open for God to lead you in those unexpected ways.

Can you share an example of the stage you feel God has you in now and how you got there?

Has God ever brought you to a stage totally unexpected from what you had planned?