Caution: Extreme Discomfort Ahead
Hi. I’m Julie Dankovich, and I’m radically changing the direction of my life. Sounds so very exciting, doesn’t it? Oh contraire, mon cherie! I have been living in hell for the past 16 months. Major life changes: they can be a muthuh.
Our days here are fleeting, though there are times when weeks, months, or even a year feel like an unforgiving and cruel eternity. There exists a mysterious cosmic order to things, but knowing how to apply such an undeniable and incredible force to our lives is just as mysterious, especially when our knees are bloody and sleepless nights have become the norm. Fear had become a steadfast companion of mine for well over a year. I’d felt broken.
I’d always been closely connected to my father. The night before he passed away, it wasn’t his career accomplishments, awards, and acknowledgements that were relevant and to be considered. No, they were not. As he scanned the 83-year life he was completing, there hovered a heavy guilt hangover. My dad shared with me that he didn’t believe he’d made much of a difference in the lives of others. If you knew my dad, you’d realize how absurd this thought was. The man fulfilled on a very big and divine life mission. He was a successful college professor and the first certified in Napolean Hill’s Positive Mental Attitude instruction, amongst many, many other things. He impacted thousands over the course of his lifetime, me included.
“Julie, have you ever thought that perhaps the workshops you lead IS your life’s purpose?” he asked. I didn’t hesitate to respond. Banking had certainly provided a very good living for me and my boys. And yes, I knew the workshops I was leading were impactful to others but unless something radically changed at my place of employment, I’d merrily continue leading the workshops a few times each year, thank you very much.
I’d been flying high in the jet stream of easy living and good fortune for over a decade. But within weeks after my dad’s death, drastic and unsettling changes at my job began, many of which were completely out of my control. For the first time, I was failing at my job. Failing. I began implementing new strategies, none of which made the slightest bit of difference. Enter stage right-the Dark Night of My Soul. Even my own positive mental attitude couldn’t keep me afloat in the choppy water in which I now found myself drowning.
Only those of us who have been plunged into such darkness know how helpless, hopeless, and utterly desperate the heavy emotional undertow can be. The dark night descends on a soul when self-doubt mocks. When you are no longer feeling divine direction because the actions you’re taking produce absolutely nothing. You believe there is a Divine plan but that plan is invisible to the faculty of the intellect.
For the past year, my prayers seemed to evaporate on my tongue and I had nothing left to say to God. Each day seemed to be more terrifying than the day before. I was grieving. Grieving the loss of all the relationships I’d developed with co-workers and clients over the last 10 years. I was grieving a daily routine and a good income that I’d been able to consistently count on. For months, I’d felt terrified of an unknown future, yet I was being pushed hard to move in an entirely new direction. It was becoming more and more uncomfortable to bear.
Oh, the dark night I know all too well. In June, I’d sought out a spiritual director to help me see through the dense fog of uncertainty. It felt like I was losing my mind. How on earth could the workshops I’d been leading provide an income for me? I had no idea what to do or where to begin. I still feel that way. Yet, I am not tempted to return to a life of financial gain and worldly pleasures because that world has proven empty. And taking another step through the void of the spiritual life had felt futile especially since this past year has left me considering that I’m really not good at it anyway and it seemed that God had given up on me, anyway.
I’ve recently considered possible that this may very well be the beginning of blessedness, and there’s nothing my soul can do but surrender. Because I’m incapable of doing anything on my own to remedy my spiritual brokenness. All efforts to purge my unspiritual inclinations have only honed the laser of attention on how inauthentic I can be. Unwilling to keep struggling, my soul- a veteran of a war with no name- finds itself surrendering to its deepest fault line and breathing in the stillness there.
My soul tells me there is but one thing for me to do: let go of my self-importance and cultivate a large dose of simple loving attention toward the Divine. Only then can the Divine take over and all of my holy intentions vaporize. And so last week, I surrendered. I surrendered and allowed grace to fill the places where I’ve felt such emptiness and at a loss for direction.
Is it possible that a soul that has allowed itself to be emptied can at last be filled and overflow with sacred electricity? God, I hope so. For months, I’ve felt the day was arriving. Nothing could pull me out of the slump I found myself in at work. Nothing. And believe me, I tried. Hard. Clearly, I am intended to be elsewhere. The fear over creating a new income brought extreme paralysis that was stalling my leap of faith. When I awoke last Sunday at 4 am, a calming certainty washed over me. I knew I was finally ready. I felt it in my spleen, and I was no longer afraid. The next morning, I resigned from my 11-year career.
My future is a very big question mark, but I’m now leaning into it with my heart wide open. I’ve recently formed a non-profit called Plan 36B. We’re bringing my spiritual teachings to those who need it the most- those who are homeless, hopeless, broke and broken.
My father had always been my true north. My life’s purpose may very well be where I’m heading. Only time will tell. On a tattered wing and a whole lotta prayers, I am bravely moving forward, allowing Divine Guidance to gently lead the way.
Change can be a muthuh. But it can also be an exciting adventure, if we allow it to be. It’s all in our point-of-view. Tally Ho!!!
Lead With Your Heart-Always. And Use Your Mind To Get You There.