Finding Patience

I write blog posts like these to help me reflect on what God has taught me. Whenever something happens in my life that has a big impact on me I like to write it down. Writing helps me organize my thoughts on everything I’m reflecting on, but I also like to share my thoughts publicly because by doing so I’ve been able to help other people who have been able to relate to my posts. Back in October I wrote a blog post titled Finding Direction (which you can read here). I didn’t think this at the time I wrote it, but now I can see that Finding Direction was a little different. It was different because instead of writing about my experiences after the fact, I wrote that blog post while I was in the midst of God teaching me a huge lesson.

In the post I talked about how I thought that God was trying to teach me how to slow down, and I was actually spot on. But I didn’t know that God was not done teaching me the lesson of how to slow down. He still wanted to teach me the hard way. And he definitely did.

I’ve gone back and forth on how explicit I want to be with the hardship I endured the last 6 months. I know I don’t have to share every single detail of what happened, and I won’t. But I do plan on being very real in this post. In the last 6 months I went through the toughest, most stressful, most difficult stretch I’ve ever gone through. I know that sounds pretty dramatic, but it’s the truth. And it is interesting for me to go back and read Finding Direction now because I can just sense how desperate I was for any kind of direction from God. I felt lost and I was just seeking for something. Anything.

This blog post is titled Finding Patience. I picked this title because I feel that I’m entering into a season of really learning what it means to wait on God. The tough, frustrating, but refining season of waiting on God. I’ve gone through seasons like this a few times in my life so far, but nothing like this. In the last 6 months my life took a huge turn. I was in the most serious relationship I had ever been in but that ended. At the same time I was trying to start my own company and become a gym owner. I was so close to having both of those things at the same time, and I wanted them both more than anything. I was ready for both of them, but God had different plans.

I had so much confidence in myself to take the leap of faith and start my own gym. I’m still pretty young in my career, but I feel all the experiences I’ve had have prepared me to the point where I felt ready to not just start a gym, but to have it grow into a successful company. I still feel so ready and so capable. I’ll get into this more later on in this post but I was probably about as close as you can possibly get to starting a company while not actually starting a company. I felt ready but God told me “not yet.”

I had so much confidence in myself to take the next step in my relationship and become a husband. That’s a huge step, but I felt like I was ready to take it. With all the lessons (I’m talking a LOT of lessons) I’ve learned from past relationships, and how the way I pursue women has completely transformed into something I’m very proud of, I felt so ready to not just be a husband, but to be an extremely loving, Godly husband. I still feel so ready and so capable. But God told me “not yet.”

I feel like these are both callings that God has for me in my life. For my career, my calling may not necessarily be specifically owning a gym, but I do think my calling is to be in a high leadership coaching position where I have the responsibility to lead athletes and also coaches below me. I believe that God has built me into a man who was meant to be an example of a Godly leader, and I think he has some big positions in store for me where I can make a huge impact. I also believe, with everything in me, that He has called me to be a husband and a father. I would be lying if I said this one is easy to wait for. Because I didn’t have a dad growing up I have a special eagerness to be in the position to give my children the fatherly love and affection that I didn’t receive from my father.

The Unfolding

Allow me to take y’all back in time a little bit. This past spring I left my job with the Kansas City Royals to accept a “Director” position at a new job, and to live closer to the girl I was in a relationship with. It was a huge decision for me but honestly it was an easy decision for me. It was easy because my relationship was getting very serious, and like I stated above, I was ready for those next steps. And I also felt ready to accept this “Director” role and take on the increased responsibilities that came with it. The new position seemed like an amazing opportunity but shortly after starting there I realized that it was not at all what I had expected. There were a lot of issues at this new place. I was able to remain optimistic for awhile, until I just couldn’t be optimistic anymore. By the middle of summer I started working on my resume and began planning an exit strategy. Thankfully I wasn’t alone. In fact, every single one of my fellow employees felt the same way. We reached a point where we all had as much as we could handle and on August 7 we all gave our boss our two weeks notice.

I’m not going to go into the details of how stressful and messy that whole situation was, because I simply don’t need to on here. But it was awful. It was unbelievably awful. And it left me unemployed without any potential jobs lined up.

The Unfolding: Part 2

In the weeks leading up to me quitting my job I had joked around with one of the guys I worked with about starting my own gym. I thought, shoot, I’m basically doing all the organizational and structural work here anyway. Why not just do this thing myself? Then after I quit my job I was close to that joke becoming a reality. Within a week of me quitting I had a business name, a business plan, a business partner who had money to fund the start up, and potentially a business location. I didn’t even seek these things out they just fell right into my lap. It was almost too good to be true. And at that point I was all in.

I was fighting my own pride big time as I pursued this business. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I used to work for a professional sports team, so it was hard for me to look at job opportunities at places that weren’t as “glamorous” or respected as my job with the Royals. Up until this point every move I had made in my career was a big step up from the last one. I felt pressured to continue that trend and the only option I had in front of me that I thought was a step up from where I had been was to start my own company. To be honest with y’all I let this pressure get to me. I thought a lot about what my social media following would think. Would they look down on me if I took a job at a high school, or at some commercial gym? Shoot I bet they would congratulate and praise me like crazy if I announced I was opening my own gym.

As the next few weeks unfolded the business idea began to stall because my partner and I were having trouble getting the location we were looking at. We weren’t even considering looking at other locations because this whole time the landlord was telling us that we were going to be able to move in soon. Wednesday got pushed back to Friday. Friday got pushed back to the next Friday. That Friday got pushed back to the next Thursday. Then that got pushed back. We had everything we needed to start the business except this location, and we just had to sit back and wait for it. I can’t even explain to y’all how frustrating and stressful it was because it was totally out of our control. The only thing I could control was my productivity so in the meantime I worked furiously on getting everything ready to launch my new business. It was what I consumed myself with all day every day.

Eventually the waiting became too much and I had to looking at backup plans. I was running out of money (in case you were wondering, this is what happens when you don’t have a job) and the excitement of starting my own company began to fade and was overcome by the stress and uncertainty of what was to come. As I looked for other opportunities I ended up I interviewing at a CrossFit gym and at La Salle. Even though I had finally started to look at other options I was still consumed with this vision for my career. I was still all in. The backup plans were just in case of emergency type opportunities to me. So I kept kept pushing through trying to figure out how to make my business work.

The Unfolding: Part 3

It seemed like the stresses just kept piling on. Every day I was fighting to hold on to control of my career. I was doing everything I could to gain some traction, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. And every day that went by where I didn’t get anywhere just multiplied the stress of not knowing what my future was going to be like. Then my relationship ended.

I didn’t have a place to live in California so I had no other option but to drive back home to Kansas City to stay with family until my life settled back down. Let me tell you, those were some extremely tough days. I felt like I was so close to having the things I wanted more than anything and then in an instant I had lost them all.

After a week or so of staying in KC I realized that I could still pursue my dream of starting my own company. I didn’t have to give up on that just because my circumstances had changed. I especially thought this after I had talked with my family and close friends about what had happened. When they realized how close I truly was to starting a business and that all I needed was a location they were all on board and encouraging me to go through with it. The people who were closest to me and who knew me the best all believed that I would be a successful entrepreneur.

So I went into salvage mode. We already had basically everything we needed: the business plan, a logo, capital ready to be invested, financial projection documents, you name it. We even had a LLC created; all we needed was a location. So I called my business partner, told him where I was at with everything, and I went back to work. I was all in again. Consumed with figuring everything out and making it all work. I ended up finding a location and my partner went out to look at it. I was nearly perfect. We had a real estate agent write up an offer to give to the landlord and we just working on getting some details in line before we made the offer.

But then, for the first time in awhile, I actually attempted to listen to God and I heard his voice. He had a bold yet concerning tone. He was begging me, “slow down Austin.”

The Surrender

As hard as everything that happened was God used it all to teach me probably the most important lesson He’s taught me thus far. He taught me the difference between when to fight for something and when to surrender something. The whole time I was pursuing my business I was fighting for my career. I was fighting to remain in control and to figure it all out. I was fighting so hard for my business that I wasn’t fighting for my relationship with God, or my relationship with the girl I was with. I was so consumed with salvaging my career that I had lost the relationships that meant more to me than anything else.

When this realization hit it hit me hard. It broke me. How could I let this happen? How could I let my priorities get so out of order? How could I be so blind and let myself get so consumed with my career?

I knew that I had to surrender my vision for my company and start fighting for my relationship with God. I called my business partner and told him that I was out. Y’all it was the biggest weight lifted off of my shoulders. Like I could literally feel the stress and anxiety of trying to figure everything out just leave me. For the first time in maybe forever I was actually slowing myself down.

When I told my business partner I was backing out I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I had no back up plan or other opportunities lined up but 2 days after I talked to him I got a phone call from the AD at La Salle. He wanted me to come work for him. For the first time in a really long time a smile appeared on my face. After that I made plans to go back to Southern California to become a high school strength and conditioning coach.

Now, my job at La Salle was only a part time position so I still had to find more work to financially support myself. So I went back to what I knew and I tried to figure it out. When I got back to California I interviewed at another CrossFit gym and actually got offered a part-time position there. Normally I would have accepted it right away because my circumstances were pretty clear: I needed another job and this was an opportunity. But it just didn’t feel right so I turned the offer down. Yet again, I felt like I was actually learning how to slow down. But the part-time job search continued and I interviewed at Chick-Fil-A. Yeah, I’m serious haha. It turns out God had something for me all along.

I spoke with our assistant principal at La Salle and next thing I knew I was a part-time substitute teacher. Not only was this good for me financially, but it allowed me to be on campus all day and build better relationships with the students and faculty. It turned out to be perfect. Actually slowing down instead of trying to do it all on my own was paying off. It almost felt like God was showing off for me.

The Surrender: Part 2

I’ve thought a lot about the story of Abraham these last few months. I think his story relates closely to what I just experienced. In Genesis chapter 15 God tells Abraham to “fear not, I am your shield; your reward will be great” (15:1), but Abraham is unsure because God has not provided him any offspring to be his heir (15:3). God promised him, “your very own son shall be your heir” (15:4). I can imagine Abraham was pretty dang excited to receive this promise from God. You can tell by how Abraham questioned God at the beginning that he was anxious about the fact that he didn’t have any children, so to hear this promise from God he must have been ecstatic.

If you flip the page and read Genesis 16 you will see that Abraham doesn’t have a lot of patience when it comes to God’s promise. His wife, Sarah, was having trouble conceiving so they took it upon themselves to set Abraham up with Sarah’s servant, Hagar. Abraham and Hagar do the thing and have a kid, which was clearly not what God intended when he promised Abraham and Sarah offspring.

I do this. Not like literally sleep with someone named Hagar to have a kid because God promised me a kid, but what I do is I feel God’s calling and I get so excited to almost forget to follow God as he brings that calling to life. I felt the calling to take a leap of faith and start a business, but I was fighting for the business more than my relationship with God. And because my relationship with God wasn’t right my other relationships suffered. I was fighting for the wrong things.

It’s funny, when God first tells Abraham that Sarah is going to have his son Abraham laughs.

“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?” (17:17)

When Sarah found out what God was doing she had a similar reaction.

“So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘after I am worn out, and my Lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” (18:12)

In chapter 21 the promise is fulfilled and Abraham and Sarah have their first son together, Isaac. But in chapter 22 God tested Abraham’s faith in the most challenging way possible.

(1) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (2) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Ok two verses in and it’s already crazy. What even crazier is how Abraham responds.

(3) So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

He didn’t hesitate. He actually got up EARLY. Some of y’all (and me) don’t even get up early enough to read our bible in the morning and this dude got up early to go sacrifice his son, his son that God promised him and that he had to wait for, simply because God told him to. The faith and obedience that Abraham shows here is remarkable, and I think it shows how much he matured from when he first was given the promise from God that he was going to have offspring. First, he wasn’t patient enough so he slept with Hagar. Then, he laughed when God told him he was going to conceive a child with Sarah. But now, he has full trust in God to the point where he’s willing to surrender one of the things he loves the most.

I felt this with my career. For the first time in my career I’ve been able to slow down and not just be constantly consumed with trying to climb up the success ladder. Surrendering my vision for my company was such a huge step for me. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that before. It continued when I turned down the part-time offer from the CrossFit gym I interviewed at. By saying “No” to these opportunities I was trusting that God had even better opportunities for me, and he did. Through all of this I’ve reached a level of contentment with my career that I’ve never really felt before. I’m ok with where God has me and I’m glad I’m at La Salle. I think God has some huge things in store for me there and I’m excited to see what those are.

God tested Abraham’s faith using something so incredibly precious to him, his son Isaac. But God ended up not taking his son away and provided Abraham with a ram to give as the offering instead of his son. After all, God did promise Abraham a son, and he stuck to his promise. That gives me hope that these callings that I feel so strongly in my life, with my career and with being a husband and a father, are going to happen. I can have confidence that God will fulfill these callings for me just like he did for Abraham.

The Preparation

So what’s next for me? Well in this last season of hardship I’ve learned the tough lesson of when to fight and when to surrender, but I feel like this next season will in many ways teach me an even tougher lesson: how to wait.

Like I said before, I feel ready to be a husband. I feel ready to take on a big, responsible leadership type role in my career. But God is saying, “not yet.”

I’m going to be honest it’s so hard for me to accept that. Why won’t God let me experience those when I desire them so badly? Why is he making me wait when I feel like He’s built me up enough to be ready?

I’ve thought about this; there are essentially two ways this next season of life can go for me. Either I can be impatient and fight to try to be in control in my life. Or I can trust that he’s going to use this season to refine me and prepare me for when he finally does fulfill these callings for me. The former is what I want to do because it’s easier and I don’t like it when I’m not in control. But if this is how I approach it then my relationship with God will suffer. I will likely end up consuming myself in my career again. I will probably get too caught up with other people’s opinions of me. And overall I will probably seek things more selfishly than selflessly because of my aim to remain in control of every aspect of my life.

The latter will be a daily battle to die to myself and follow Jesus. To trust in his timing when I couldn’t want him to hurry up any faster. If this is how I approach it then my relationship with God could thrive like it never has before. I would be setting myself up to be a much stronger, selfless, and Godly coach, leader, mentor, friend, etc. and in the future a much stronger, selfless, and Godly husband and father.

To be honest with y’all this was a very difficult blog post to write. It was hard to go back and recount everything that happened simply for the fact that doing so forced me to relive a lot of the rough times I just went through. I wasn’t sure how transparent I wanted to be, or if there were things that it would just be better for me not to share. I ended up leaving out a lot of the details of the hardships I talked about, and I actually completely left out some of the other difficult stuff that went on in the last 6 months.

But with that being said it was also good for me to reflect back on where I was knowing that that’s not where I am anymore. I’m here now. And while I’m still working through everything that happened and still healing from losing my relationship, I can see that God is finding ways to provide for me. I can see that he’s using me where I’m at. Most importantly I can see that he’s hard at work building me into a stronger, more Godly man. Which I can’t help but be excited about because I know that ultimately, as difficult as it’s going to be, all my waiting will be worth it.

Austin WomackComment