Reaching the end of yourself

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My name is Alicia Collier, I am a wife and mother of two, and we live in Wyoming, Michigan. I have always been passion-driven. In my personal life; I am blunt and I love hard. Professionally; I never stop hustling.

I have been blessed in my career, working in various types of employment: from self-employment, running my professional makeup and skincare business, to working in corporate and then non-profit. But what happens when you are constantly trying to advance yourself in your career, run your makeup business, be the best wife and mama, and continue to search for a purpose?

You become exhausted and ultimately, you feel lost. You start questioning yourself and your entire life.

Then guilt sets in.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to fix those feelings [myself] with diving into another project or career. It was a never-ending, ugly cycle. Who and what was I working so hard for? What did I truly have to show for it?

Around February 2017, I was working for a large insurance company. I had been employed with the company for 3 years, and was promoted to a new position that month. 2 weeks into my training, I started experiencing extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, a cough, and hives. I went to the allergist, and they quickly diagnosed me with asthma. Each day that passed, my health was getting worse. I started noticing a pattern; I felt terrible at work, a little better at home during the week, and would finally feel normal by Sunday. Just to start the ugly cycle all over again on Monday.

Fast forward 7 months, my health continued to decline. After multiple ER visits and specialist appointments, they confirmed what I already knew– I did not have asthma. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with mold illness, I had to wear a respirator and apply for intermittent / short term leave.

I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this, but how could I ever leave this company? The opportunities were endless and I didn’t pay a dime for health insurance for my entire family! I had already written out my life plan. I was going to retire from this company. But, I started to realize the company [& union] did not have my best interest at heart.

I was truly heartbroken.

So in the middle of my health crisis, I decided to start looking for another job. And right at that moment, a position at The Potters House [my children’s school] popped up in my email. I applied– & before I could even begin to compare the incredibly different position to what I currently had, I was called in for an interview and was quickly presented with an offer. I accepted and gave notice to the insurance company.

I was FINALLY starting to feel normal again. Every day I was out of that training room, I got better! I was settling into my new job, and was finally feeling at peace with this new life plan.

The Potters House is an Urban, Christ-centered school, located in the same neighborhood our family does ministry. When you work for a Christian organization, it truly puts a new perspective on life.

Now my home & work life were aligned, and it was beautiful!  This was an emotional time for me. God was uncovering all of these layers in my life; previous situations I had been in, choices I had made, and how I was handling myself as a wife and mother. My priorities were messed up, and had been for a while. I found my identity in my status and was trying to find my purpose in things that had no meaning. My life finally started to make sense. Everything was falling into place.

Fast forward another 7 months and I have another job offer placed in front of me. Huh!? I wasn’t looking for another job.

I loved The Potters House, so I quickly passed on the job and didn’t give it another thought. A week later, this job kept popping up in my head, it wouldn’t go away. I start asking questions about the position [my husband works in ministry full time, so the pay was appealing to us]. I interviewed for the position, and again, was quickly presented with an offer.

“God, what is this?… Why?… What am I supposed to do?…”

How could I leave an organization, rooted in Christ– for a secular company? I felt like it would have been taking 2 steps backwards if I took this new job. My husband and I prayed on this decision for weeks, and finally decided to decline the offer. Until one day at work, my heart was heavy, so I called Pastor Allen. He gave me a well needed reminder: to have quiet time with God. I normally don’t do this very well; silence is something that has always been hard for me. But, I decided to drive and have a moment with God before heading home after work. That moment turned into an hour-long drive, sobbing, calling out to God for answers.

And boy, did he answer!

I still get chills when I think about how clearly I heard Him speak to me that day. He told me it was okay, I was ready, and needed to take the new job. Instead of confusion, I had complete peace. Within an hour, my life plan had been changed– again.

In March 2018, I started working at the new job. I was excited for new opportunities, and for the amazing things that were promised to me. I quickly realized everything promised to me, though, was not going to happen. The environment at work was chaotic, disrespectful, and extremely unprofessional. I started looking at jobs—again. In this moment, I started to question God. Why did you have me leave the school for this? Was this a test? All I knew was I needed to follow my life plan, I needed stability, and God was giving me the complete opposite. In October 2018, I ended up leaving the company in the middle of the day. I had never left a place of employment without notice or without having another job lined up—but I couldn’t take it anymore. I had already been interviewing with other companies every week, so I knew I wouldn’t be without a job for long.

Now it’s November 2018, I am still interviewing, but no job. I am either receiving offers I cannot accept or hearing I was runner up in the offer process. Panic and anger start to set in. I have never been unemployed before. Why is this happening to me? I get sick at work and I am forced to leave the company I wanted to retire from; I fall in love with The Potters House, but God told me to leave and work for the new place; & now I am unsuccessful, unemployed and broke. Furthermore, a month into my unemployment, symptoms from my illness are back. Fast forward to today, I am still sick and still unemployed.

So what happens when God strips you of everything?

You reach the end of yourself. You’re able to see life clearly, free from all the false truths you tell yourself. The closer I got to Him, I found myself further away from what I thought I was supposed to be. I am so hardheaded, God literally needed to press the reset button with me. I truly believe I would have yanked control back after this last wreck of a job, if I hadn’t gotten sick again.

Believe me when I say my life is far from perfect. It sucks right now. It’s confusing. I have no idea if I am going to be sick tomorrow or not. But I do know if I had the choice to be Alicia right now—sick and unemployed; or Alicia 2 years ago—working and illness free; I would choose the Alicia today, over and over, again.

God is working in me. Lord knows, its taking a while; but He has prepared me for this moment.

He brought us to SW Community Church in the middle of this chaos and has placed so many amazing people around us—people we would not have met if it weren’t for me getting sick in the first place.

I now understand why I wasn’t getting hired anywhere—God knew this illness was going to creep back into my life. I am in the scariest moments of my life right now; struggling financially and trying to find answers to my health issues—but my soul is calm.

God has showed me how faithful He truly is. He has walked with me through all of this, He has prepared the way.

How amazing is He!?

God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.

Alicia Collier and family

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