Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tough Decisions

Our lives are constantly filled with decisions that we need to make, some big, some small, some far reaching, some private. Some are easy ones to make...others require hours, days, even weeks of analyzing, deliberating, praying, and soul searching.

I've recently had to make such a decision. For over 2 years I served on our neighborhood's Board of Directors, an exciting position in the beginning, one I enjoyed as it offered me an outlet for some creativity (I started the website) and the ability to help out friends and neighbors by making our neighborhood even better. I knew there would be some uncomfortable tasks, and there were. But unfortunately there were also many things that we simply couldn't anticipate, particularly because it's a relatively new neighborhood, and these things consumed huge amounts of time, caused a lot of stress, and had implications beyond what we expected. It just wasn't too much fun. However, I made a commitment to serve until November of 2011.

There have been many, many times I've wanted to resign. To say being on an HOA Board is a thankless job is an understatement. People feel they can cut you down, insult you, and spew incorrect information without any thought to how it makes one feel. I've put up with a lot of crap the last 2+ years, but because I wanted to keep my integrity I refused to quit. Some people in particular felt like it was their life's calling to disagree with pretty much anything the Board said or wanted to do. Do you have any idea how hard it is to try to be fair, calm, and professional when all you want to do is tell someone to go to Hell and not come back?

Although the insults seem to have waned in the last several months, the job hasn't gotten easier. It's taken up a lot of my time and just wasn't filled with fun tasks. There were so many things we wanted to be able to do, but due to several different circumstances we just haven't been able to. Instead our time seemed to be filled with fixing problems, and not moving forward.

The last week has been particularly difficult. I was finding myself having to make some tough decisions but completely paralyzed from doing so. I felt I was put into some difficult circumstances and no matter what my decision was it wasn't going to be the "right" decision. It was heartbreaking to me that my emotions were getting the better of me, that the stress was overtaking my life and subsequently sucking the joy out of each day.

My family is the most important thing to me...but Mama wasn't happy. And when Mama isn't happy, it's hard to give the right amount of focus to the family and to truly give my husband and my kids what they deserved.

So I had a decision to make. Stick it out for 4 more months and commit to something that would take up hours upon hours of my time each week and certainly not be easy....OR I could resign, to hang my hat up for good and move on. It may on the surface seem like a very easy decision to make but it wasn't. I had two other board members to think about, people I had developed a friendship with, and I had my integrity to consider. Was I "giving up" or did I truly give it my best shot? Was I reneging on a commitment or doing what was best for everyone?

In the course of all this angst, we got some potentially bad news on Wednesday that Greg's job was in jeopardy because of company-wide layoffs. This is the first time he'd ever felt like he might be laid off in his 12 years with his company. Something his boss said just gave him a sinking feeling. He's a valuable employee and a true asset to his company, but if your position is eliminated there's really not much you can do but move on. To say this was even more stress-inducing is an understatement. I knew we'd be okay, that it could be a blessing in disguise, but the unknown was just overwhelming to me.

I did a lot of praying and entirely too much thinking over the course of a few days. To be frank, I was just plain miserable. I cried. I was exhausted. But then on Sunday, I had a moment of clarity. I realized I just couldn't do it anymore. I had other things that needed my focus, namely my family. Ultimately they are what I live for. A volunteer position is just that - a VOLUNTEER position. I had volunteered my time, I had served, but I had no true obligation to continue if it wasn't what I really wanted to focus my energy on.

What I DID want to do was to be with my family, to have a clear mind and clear heart, to spend my time doing things that brought me joy, to be SELFISH with my time for once. The only way I could do that was to give up my position, no matter what that could mean for others. I had to start thinking of myself and to stop being a martyr because I thought I was doing what was "right." Taking time away from my family was not what was right at all, however.

Once I hit the "send" button on my resignation email, I immediately felt so much better. A huge weight was suddenly off my shoulders. I felt free to give back to my family and to my husband. It was the right decision.

If there is something in your life that isn't what you want it to be, then see if you can change it. If it's something that you can let go, then maybe that's what you should do. There is no joy in life when we wake up everyday dreading what we need to do. There is no joy when we don't feel good about the tasks ahead of us. We must put ourselves and our loved ones first and foremost on our priority list. I want to be a good wife, a good mom, and a positive influence to others. I can't do that when I'm crying and tearing my hair out.

Yep, I feel better now.

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