I heard someone describe it like this recently: "It's like a baby giraffe trying to find its footing."
Spit fresh out of college with starry eyes, my Bachelor of Arts, an amazing husband, loads of sweet memories, and dreams a little too big for my own comfort can lead me to one of two paths:
hope, hard work, gratitude, joy, profit, and abundance
critique, entitlement, jealousy, bitterness, poverty, and lack.
I know which road I want to get on. But sometimes the road to life seems a little slippery, or, at least, hidden under the thousands of invitations to take another way.
I'm an extremely thoughtful person by nature. I scan and handle and poke and question and throw it away and come back to it and meditate on it some more. Especially when it comes to things like knowing the Lord, knowing myself, and knowing just what it is that this little girl is meant to bring the world; it's easy for me to never leave the staring stage.
I don't want to throw myself into something that isn't what I thought it was. I don't want to be blindsided by flaws in the system that I missed. I don't want to cause collateral damage. I want to believe in--100% believe in--what it is my energy is being given to. Otherwise, I'm a little greedy with my energies.
Unfortunately, there's barely anything that exists that meets my criteria. Besides walking with Jesus, everything else gets pretty shady and yucky at some points.
So where does that leave me?
My eyes can see a few less stars, I start protecting myself. All too easily, I could pack my bags and be on my way to bitterness and a life of lack. All too quickly, I could find myself wondering where the time has gone and why my calling didn't manifest in my life.
It's been tough finding a job. I don't have one yet. That means I have tons of time to myself. I read a lot, I prep for the Bible study I lead, I pray, I clean our house, I run, and I apply for jobs. God has graciously gifted a group of fiery high schoolers to Jordan and I to pastor and disciple up in the things of the Kingdom; so there I am building and creating and working my giftings. But still, I kick myself because I want to be building more, I have the time, and I feel like I haven't used it (by my standards). I've felt insecure because I've secretly wondered if something is wrong with me and that's why I'm not getting a job or making my own opportunity. My drive to create has been bursting and yet I have less to show for it than I'd like.
I asked the Lord the other night, "Am I a hard worker?"
Would I not steward a job well?
Am I just actually ok with being taken care of and chilling out for my whole life?
Do I not want what I want badly enough?
Don't get me wrong, I know that getting a job isn't the answer to my worries and insecurities. It will create it's own troubles. But every time I pray for a job, I get radio silence. And, in my experience, whenever I get radio silence from God, it means I already know what I need, I'm already doing what I need (or that I know what to do and I need to buck up and get on it), or I need to pray about something else entirely. So I dug deep and asked that real question:
"Am I a hard worker?"
A swell of memories came up: training and completing a trail marathon just because I wanted to, starting a blog and keeping it up for several years, being chosen to lead worship in various communities, being chosen to pastor and preach without any asking on my part, caring for my own soul enough to have a healthy and whole marriage, gaining a reputation at my college for my acting abilities as a Sophomore, and straight up completing college.
God said, "Not being a hard worker is not your problem. You are. Your problem is that you are scared of yourself. You crave profitability but you won't let yourself begin. I love your thoughtfulness, child, but it's time to act. You have so much within you, but you fear your own calling because others find fault with it and because you know the weight of it. Don't feed off of the critique and unhappiness of others and restrict yourself with boundaries I never gave you. Do not be afraid."
Thanks for clearing that up, God.
It's time to start. It's time to get over myself. It's time to lock away the fears and questions others have handed me and unlock my own heart; Even if it seems unsafe to me or others.
God's word that night sent a jolt through me. I felt a call to bless others more profusely, to dramatically own who I am and what I'm about, to just start, to do things for the joy of them, to quit bemoaning the brokenness I see all around and start shining light into it, to humble myself, to get into the secret place in prayer, and to let Christ keep transforming me.
I almost titled this post "Overcoming a Critical Spirit" instead of "Getting Over Yourself." As I thought about it, I realized that I wasn't dealing with a critical spirit, I was dealing with just what God said I was: an obsession to protect myself from the weightiness of my calling.
If we shield ourselves for too long from our massive callings, we begin to become stagnant, forgetful, fearful, dense, and disappointed: the perfect conditions to become critical of someone else's success and joy or Christ's power within you. If you are dealing with a critical spirit,--whether yours or someone else's--it will never be overcome unless you brandish the courage to look at yourself first. I'll say it again: we get critical when we are disappointed in ourselves. We get critical because we are afraid. We get critical when we are jealous of someone else.
Ultimately, we get critical because we are confused about who we are and feel hopeless in pursuit of our own callings and identities.
So I don't want to talk about overcoming a critical spirit. I want to talk about the epidemic of disbelief that says "I don't matter," "What I have to bring isn't significant," "Someone else can do it better," "I'll never become anything other than what I've been."
The epidemic of throwing aside our anointings and holy partnership with God because we think what we've done is too bad to be redeemed, who we've been is too shady and ingrained to be reworked, or where we are headed isn't worth the attention or nurturing of our loving God.
The epidemic of believing our God is a God who made us inconsequentially and who doesn't want to build anything alongside us.
At the end of the day, calling, dreams, and anointings really aren't about you or us. They are about agreeing with God's creative nature and being blessed by the giftings He has wrapped up in our skin. They are about seeing new parts of His nature and carrying those parts powerfully into the lives of others.
If you can't own your calling for yourself, own it for God. You are a carrier of one of His precious dreams. You are His precious dream. That's why you're here.
If we really want to kick this thing, our faces need to be in The Word because it tells us who we are, who our God is, what we are about, and what He is about. We are all called to the ministry of reconciliation and to be transformed into the image of Christ. All the nuances of who God made us will fall into place as we keep our relationship with God in tact. And, let's be honest, deep down, if we get into the quiet and listen to the Spirit even for a minute, we all know what we are made for.
If we get in the presence, if we really, truly show up to encounter God, it becomes clear there is nothing to be afraid of. We wouldn't have our calling if God didn't want us to carry it. We wouldn't have the calling we do if it didn't give God the most joy to give it to us. Meaning, He didn't give it to the next guy, He gave it to you because you living out His dream would bless Him more than anyone else living it out. He has promised to be with us. He has promised to be faithful. He has promised that if we seek His Kingdom, everything else would be added to us.
The world is upside down and backwards. The world teaches to take care of your bills and your comfort and your happiness and your passion will maybe fall into the leftover time at some point. The Kingdom teaches that our God has taken care of all of that. The Kingdom is a place where God has freed us to be all He created us to be. That's radical. That's extraordinary. That is too good to pass up.
I think it's important for myself that I spell out here exactly what it is I think God has for me to do in this life (as best as my 23 year old self can know right now) because I have been one of those people shrinking back from the glory that God has called me into.
He's called me to speak wisdom and freedom with profound power in whatever community I'm in. I think sometimes that includes giving my voice some stage time. But I think more often it includes the ministry of presence and just being a human with the other humans around me. It includes crying, praying, coffee dates, journal entries, and walks with Jesus.
He's called me to write. To write about Him, to write about me, to write about this jumbled, joyous journey we call life. I know that includes blogs and books, but I think more often it includes journaled prayers and love notes to my friends and husband.
He's called me to be a worship leader. He named me a "freedom-bringer" and gifted me with a voice. He gifted me with the grace and bravery to just worship and not entertain. I don't need a microphone to do that, I don't even need a church service, I just need to be me and to be connected to Him every step of every day as best as I can.
He's called me to disciple and pastor. No matter where I go, a gaggle of girls soon forms around me. I can't look away. I can't help myself but to intercede for them, share my life with them, share Christ's life with them, and call out who they are in Christ.
He's called me to be an intercessor. The Secret Place is consistently my favorite place. No fanfare, no five steps to sharpening discernment and hearing God's voice, just an experience of His presence and whispers snuck back and forth.
Yesterday morning at church, God took me back to a memory I don't visit often. It was me, a sophomore in college, on my dorm room couch, looking up plane tickets to anywhere and other colleges I could transfer to. When I'm in a really bad place, a fresh start, is my obsession. As I've grown, I've come to realize that that obsession is shame taking over. When things go south, I want to hide from my life, from my calling, from people who know and love me. I asked God, "Why that memory?"
As it's tumbled over in my mind, I realized that that moment marked a two year period in my life dedicated to hiding away, healing, and staying quiet. Those were all good and necessary things for my heart, but I think I threw some things away that didn't need to go as God mended my heart back to wholeness. God has declared that season complete and that this new season is one of resurrecting of my passions and drive.
Where I've been passive, He is reminding me how engaged I can be.
Where I've been quiet, He is reminding me I have a voice.
Where I've been sad, He is peeling back layers and layers of joy that my life right here, right now, holds.
Where I've not known myself, He is revealing His creation back to me.
I really am the only thing standing in my way. And so are you. Discern your season, maybe you are currently mending and reorienting and resting, but for some of us it might be time to let your roar out. To stand up out of what's been keeping you under. To just start working on your dream even without a ten year business plan for it. To pray the hard prayers. To face your disappointments, your fears, your wounds, and what's just not working for you. To silence the critical spirit inside or outside that tries so hard to keep you stagnant in the name of safety. To have a sit down with God and actually get to know Him in a way that is actually fulfilling. To do away with anything less than overflow. To look your calling in the face, memorize it, and fight for it. To, if I may, with Christ's power, live out the change you want to see in your world.
What I've learned about what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ, be reconciled to Him, myself, & others, and how to be His disciple.