As a child, did you ever hear the words “You can achieve any goal if you set your mind to it”?
I did. I had really great parents who have been my cheerleaders my entire life. Children who hear these types of things often grow up believing that anything really is possible and when they work hard and set high goals, they will achieve them.
But then they become adults.
What happens between being a child with lofty goals and being an adult who doesn’t expect much of yourself? Where along the line did defeat and self-doubt creep in?
I ask, because I feel like I hear these themes often from what I read and even from friends. It seems that many of us see what someone else is doing and start to feel bad about ourselves. Instead of cheering on others, we find ourselves doubting our own “goodness” and worth and we begin to question why we aren’t doing all “those” things. This oddly leads to judging anyone else who is. It’s a weird spiral. I’ve been in it before, so I feel like I can say that. I read someone recently who was kindly trying to encourage woman by saying that we’re all in different places in life and you weren’t necessarily called to solve world hunger, adopt, start churches, become a missionary, or home school your kids. And that’s true. She was right.
But what if you were? What if God asked you to do something that is “hard”?
I think somewhere along the line between wanting to be the president (at age 8) and getting married and having children, many of us stop dreaming. We stop believing that life is anything more than sweatpants, spilled juice and barely making it through the day. Instead of taking on the day like a boxer who just entered the ring jumping up and down and who swings their fists to warm up for a TKO, we act like the guy he’ll defeat in less than 3 seconds. We didn’t even see it coming!
So what’s the answer? Is it even possible to be in a busy stage of life with small children or a busy schedule and really flourish?
I think it’s possible, but it will require a little change of thinking.
I fear we think too small and allow other people to determine our worth too much.
I believe the reason some people really do flourish in this season of life is not because they believe “they can do it” or because they just “try harder” than others. I don’t believe it’s because they have more help, more resources or a different personality than yours-although those can be helpful. I believe it’s because they recognize who they really are: weak and unable. And because of that truth, they choose to cling to the source of all strength and power: their heavenly Father and Him alone.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
They find rest, rejuvenation and loads of strength in God’s words of truth. They choose to let his words sink into the deep and very private crevices of their lives and change them from within. Sometimes it’s painful, but they will tell you it’s worth it!
I think they’ve also decided not to settle for the status quo. They chose to be stretched by all that God has for them, instead of doing only what others expect of them, which is often very little. One thing I have certainly experienced is that people will often give you an “out”.
“Oh, that would be so hard! I can’t imagine having so many kids.” (Mind you, I only have 4 and yet I hear this most of the time when we go out in public. We had a ridiculous situation on Mother’s Day while we were out for dinner and I honestly just felt for the guy saying it. He has kids; he’s just choosing to miss out on enjoying them.)
“I could never ________.”
“I don’t know how you ________”
So, if we all listen to this type of advice we’ll just continue living our safe and controlled lives. We won’t stretch or ache for others. We won’t give until it hurts. We certainly will not share Jesus, because that would just be so uncomfortable. We won’t willingly choose to disciple our children. We won’t serve any of the many needs of our churches or lift a hand to help someone in need. We won’t encourage those who have given their lives to spread the gospel. We’ll never support or even consider fostering or adoption and we’ll shy away from those that do. We won’t care that there are more slaves in the world today than there EVER have been and we won’t ask God what He wants for our lives, because if He answers, it might actually cost us something.
I’m sick of the status quo.
I believe Christ called us to more. Don’t hear “work harder! Do more!” That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying to look at the power that is within you. If you are a follower of Jesus who claims that the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, then you have all the power you need to be a part of life-changing work for the Lord. Have you asked him to use you?
If you want to argue that sometimes He has us in a waiting period, I wouldn’t argue. I completely agree. But if you’ve been sitting in the crowd for years, it’s time to step into the ring. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
So will you step into the ring? I hear there’s a set of gloves that’s just your size.