Do you ever read quotes like “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?”* and feel stressed out because you haven’t yet accomplished something great? Or maybe you feel an immense pressure to find the one amazing thing you can do for the world that no one else can do?
If you’re feeling small, or inadequate, or boring, every time you scroll through Instagram to see snapshots of what grandiose things everyone else is doing, take comfort in these wise words from Emily P. Freeman:
“Soon after my first book was released in the fall of 2011, I had someone ask me if I thought that was the book I was born to write. Part of me wanted to declare with great certainty, ‘Yes! This is what I was made to do! This book is the culmination of my purpose on earth.’
But I couldn’t say that.
I believe that book was the book I was born to write for that particular season in my life. Several years before that book released, I brought twins into the world, revealing God’s glory by being a mother (I still do that, by the way). Four years before that, I learned sign language and revealed God’s glory by being an interpreter (I no longer do that at all). Just this morning I revealed the glory of God in my kitchen, making cookie dough….
I don’t believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare his glory with my life.”
I am not a morning person, and likely never will be. If I have to rush around in the mornings, I will be unhappy for the rest of the day. Both my body and my mind need time to wake up, gradually and quietly.
If I am rushed in the morning, my day is pretty much ruined. I feel stressed the whole day, as though there’s an itchy tag scratching at my soul. No matter how much I try to adjust, there’s something bothering me.
Simcha Fisher wrote a great piece recently, reflecting on how a diagnosis of diabetes in their family has changed the way she thinks about food – but not just food. The whole notion of how one way of thinking might be just fine in one particular set of circumstances, but not in another, made her question how freely she remains open to change in her spiritual life.
“There is one constant: We must know, love, and serve God. But the specifics are surprisingly subjective. What God wants from me, to keep my soul nourished, is not necessarily what He wants from you.”
“This is a familiar lesson. Maybe we’re comfortable with the idea that we are one body with many members, and that diverse vocations are a feature, not a bug. But are we aware that our own vocations may be good and useful and pleasing to God for a while — and then may abruptly change? That the thing that used to nourish me yesterday might suddenly become the last thing I need?”
I had surprising conversation with a friend recently. She asked me about life consulting, and I was telling her how I might advise a mother who is overwhelmed with family duties but wanting to pursue a hobby to get some help with things she didn’t love (laundry, cooking, etc.) in order to have a bit more time for what she did love – (painting, music, etc.).
My friend, a mother of grown children, burst out: “but that’s not character building!”
I quickly replied that leaving her family and running away to Argentina was not character building, but devoting 5 fewer hours a week to a household chore could hardly be seen as a life of vice. After some thought, she agreed.
This conversation left me thinking. As Christians, we are raised to believe (rightly) in the importance of character. We are taught to practice virtue – including the virtue of perseverance in tasks we may not like. Self-sacrifice and self-control form the basis of a life of service.
But sometimes it seems like Christians feel that they always ought to choose the more difficult task, because “building character” is so important. So is there no room for doing what comes easily to us?
How do we walk the line between doing what is easy because we love it and/or it comes naturally to us, and doing what is difficult because it builds our character? Continue Reading
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