there’s this question that has me thinking… doing a little more dreaming, asking, praying, listening than usual. it’s all Jennie Allen’s fault, really. she just keeps writing these books that open these big honkin’ cans of worms and now the worms are everywhere so i have to deal with them. gross.
in Restless, she asks ‘what stops you from dreaming, from running full steam ahead after your dreams?’
well crap. more specifically: worm crap. everywhere.
because i’ve been walking towards this question for a while. it seems that turning 35 and leaving the city i’ve lived in for the first decade of married life has spawned something of a midlife ‘crisis.’
who am i if my kids are in school and i don’t have a job?
what do i do with wide open space: time, resources, gifts, skills?
where do i begin to figure out my purpose?
i do have a purpose, don’t i? doesn’t everyone?
and when you open up that question- does my life have a purpose- you arrive at one of 3 conclusions (with thanks to Rebekah Lyons for giving these categories):
1. no. my life has no purpose- God did not intend for me to do anything that matters with my time on earth.
2. yes, my life could have a purpose, but i may never know what it is or be able to fulfill it in the years i have before me.
3. yes. God created me to have a purpose. my life has meaning beyond just breathing & eating, and i have all the tools i need to accomplish His plan for today somewhere within me, readily available. tomorrow’s plan may require different tools, and they will be there when i need them.
hence the dreaming… what needs do i see? how do i feel about them? do i have a role in meeting them? what is stopping me from jumping in- running ‘full steam ahead?’
what is stopping me from dreaming and running?
100 things. i won’t list all 100. phew.
sadly, i use my kids as an excuse to sit on the sideline while the runners complete their race. sometimes it’s necessary to pull over; they need my attention, my focus, and my energy. but let’s be honest: my daughters need to see me dreaming and running my race, not hiding behind them. they are not a hindrance to my life’s purpose. kids are not speed bumps, not hurdles to get past. they are a part of my race, and they are supposed to come along with me. how else will they learn to run?
somewhere i picked up some funny notions of what it means to be a pastor’s wife- i don’t even have the words now to really unpack this. just that it means things that i am not and may not ever be, if that makes sense. so in order to fill this ‘role’ (as if it has one definition), i cannot really be me or have my own purpose outside of his calling to lead and shepherd our church. huh… i’m picking up on this for the first time, so excuse my confusion. seems like i’ll need to return to this one at some point? i’d rather shove this particular worm back in the can.
oh insecurity. we studied this, didn’t we friends? i’m done with it- i’m secure now. i know who i am because i know who God is and i no longer struggle with how others perceive me! (again, let’s call BS). i still worry that if i put myself forward, i’ll be perceived as prideful or arrogant, thinking too much of myself.
or that i’ll actually BE prideful and arrogant and think too much of myself! what is my motive for wanting to run this race? am i seeking to raise up the Lord and point others to Him, or am i hoping they’ll look at me and think i’m awesome?
i usually apologize for being good at anything. where does that come from?!
i’ll screw something up royally because i am wrong- this is not what i’m actually supposed to be doing. or i’m not strong enough to persevere when it gets sticky… or i’ll step on someone’s toes, and then there’s conflict and i’m afraid of conflict…
or… or… or…
all those ‘or’ fears start to pile up after a while.
~and this nameless thing~
it may be fear, it may be insecurity… but what if my purpose is very very small? i don’t long for fame or notoriety (i’d be a pathetic celebrity), but i think i do expect ‘purpose’ to mean impact. if i run hard enough, i should create
a little breeze, right? when you open yourself to God’s purpose, He accomplishes things- He changes you & your future changes. but what if that thing He wants to accomplish in me is very tiny? maybe this is comparison- the thief of joy. maybe comparison is also the thief of dreaming toward my purpose?
darn it, Jennie Allen. stop spilling worms everywhere. it’s so messy.