*This is Part One of The Ultimate Guide to Recovering Your Life
I’ll never forget when I got my first pair of glasses. I was 12 or 13 and in the seventh grade. I picked the coolest frames my Grandma’s money could buy (let’s be honest - they were awful). I was equally nervous and excited. But when I stepped out onto the sidewalk and looked across the parking lot at the trees above Taco Bell, nothing else mattered. The scene in front of me was as ordinary as they come, but what I was looking at took my breath away.
For the first time in as long as I could remember, I could see the leaves!
For years, all I had ever seen were green blobs. Blurs. A smushed silhouette of emerald against a blanket of blue. I had no idea you were supposed to be able to see the individual leaves from 100 yards away! I had been doing fine in school, making great grades. I only had to squint a little to see the chalkboard.
I didn’t have a clue what I’d been missing.
Who am I?
I stepped away from my role as a youth pastor in 2012. I spent the next four years floundering like a fish out of water. I thought working at the community health center in a seaside village in Alaska would allow me to connect with people in need, but HIPAA kept me from it. After that, I tried selling cars. (I figured if you can sell Jesus, you can surely sell a Camry.) When that didn’t work, I tried to make my way back in the church, but that ship had sunk.
I was trying so hard to find my way, but I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere.
I had been blogging for five years before I ever decided to take the plunge and write a book. From Pastor to a Psych Ward quickly became an Amazon bestseller, but I still longed for connection. I was desperate for the connection I felt when talking with students and families in personal conversation. Nothing seemed to fill the void of being a pastor.
Steve Austin: Life Coach
When I heard about life coaching, I researched various schools and certification programs. I finally signed up and started my first class, and I felt like that young teenage boy in the Taco Bell parking lot again. I could finally see the leaves!
Everything started coming back into focus. I remembered why I was so passionate about pastoring. It wasn’t the thrill of clicking “publish” on a blog. It wasn’t the satisfaction of selling another unit off the car lot. It wasn’t even the approval “fix” of helping a little old lady in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.
In each of the scenarios since stepping away from ministry, I had been finding one-sided ways to give back. It was all about what I could do for other people. But in focusing on a fancy monologue, I was missing the magic of everyday dialogue. What I had been craving were stories. In the words of Paul Young, I was desperate to be invited “into the holy ground of someone else’s story”.
Life coaching has allowed me to connect with people in a way I missed for five solid years. The magic of a good life coaching session is that it’s fueled by honest conversation. I never approach a life coaching consultation as the expert - that’s the client’s role. I constantly tell people, “I’m not here with all the answers. This is not an advice line. The answers are inside of you. You are the expert at living your life.” My job is just to help people dig.
I spent four years, exhausting myself, trying to be somebody I wasn’t, attempting to recover a life I had never actually lost. I thought the journey of self-discovery meant I had to change the whole game. I actually sold everything I owned and moved my family 4,000 miles away to try and start over. And after all that toiling, the answers were right under my nose.
The answers are inside of you.
Recovering your life doesn’t necessarily require you to move an inch. You don’t need a new car, new house, new clothes, or new wife. You just need new vision. If you’re ready to take your life back, most of the time you don’t have to go anywhere. If you’re tired of feeling unfulfilled in the life you’re living, it’s rarely about external things. It doesn’t have a thing in the world to do with geographic location. You just need fresh perspective about the life, gifts, talents, and dreams you already have.
Self-discovery is the first step in recovering your life. It starts with peeling away layers of unrealistic expectations and getting really honest about who you are. What do you want from this one life you’ve been given? These glasses Grandma bought me sure are ugly, but I just can’t stop staring at the leaves.