At the completion of my high school education I was fairly certain that I would in fact change the world. Yes. Me. Little me in rural Newfoundland and from the tucked away Northern Peninsula, no less. I had a vision of what I thought God had intended me to do; I had my sights set internationally and I pictured big stages, cross cultural environments and fascinating stories that would awe and inspire others to also embark on their own world changing, life altering journeys.
It’s hard to blame me really. In Junior High we sang worship songs like “History Makers” and well-meaning youth leaders spoke words over my life like…
You’re going to do GREAT things.
You’re going to CHANGE THE WORLD.
God has BIG PLANS for you.
And I wanted every one of them to become reality. If I’m honest, it was that very promise of God’s big plans that saved me from making a few monumentally disastrous choices during high school – thank the gracious Lord for that. Beyond that, however, it made me brave and unrelenting in my pursuit of God and greatness. I prayed big prayers.
Lord, wherever you want me to go, I’ll go.
Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do.
Here I am, send me.
I was pretty holy, huh?
Fast forward to today. I’m fairly certain that junior-high-me would be gravely disappointed with 2017 me (although my hair is a slight improvement – thank heavens and the invention of the straightener). There are barely the faint remnants of that world changing, history maker in the milky mess of mothering and the tedious task of church scheduling. There have been days when, in waiting for the coffee to brew at the dawning of another daily grind, I have wondered silently where I so extravagantly missed the mark.
How did that ambitious, aim-for-the-extraordinary, girl get swallowed up in ordinary living “back home”?
I’d like to say that the thoughts dissipate like the sugar that swirls in the steaming cup of joe but the truth is that those questions taunted me for several years. I wrestled with the tension of what I’d been told, what I’d pursued and the place the Lord saw fit to settle me. How in the world does one reconcile all of that?
It’s been a journey and a humbling one at that. A break-me-down-to-the-bare-bones and build-me-back-up journey where I have rediscovered the upside down and inside reality of the Kingdom of God, and what’s truly important.
Sometimes it infuriates me but today I am so saddened to see it wreak havoc on those around me. I see my own peers – in ministry and otherwise – still pursuing world changer status, devastatingly disappointed and discontent at the ordinary job God has given them in an ordinary place. They never seem to find joy or fulfillment. They are disillusioned, as I have been, by those grandiose ideas about the future, and afraid that they will be insignificant in the world, in history, to people and to God. And so we all fight and scratch for position, let envy and jealousy consume us, make choices out of our selfishness instead of God’s leading, all the while grumbling and whining like children denied candy at the local convenience store. All of it is robbing and stealing from us the good, the peace, the joy and the hope God longs to lavish on us as His children.
I know. I’ve heard myself say the words to our own teens and I wish I could take them back, those big-plans and great-things words spoken with the best of intentions. I’ve been part of perpetuating the problem myself in another generation. I wish instead I had said…
Be faithful. Be constant.
Serve humbly. Give generously.
Love so profoundly it alters the atmosphere.
Be present to the people who matter most.
Let your life and your body – literally everything about you – be an open vessel that God pours into and out of to the broken, hurting and oppressed right in front of you – whether their skin is midnight black or milky white, whether their pay check triples yours or makes you look like a millionaire, and whether the stain of poor choices lines their faces or poisons their hearts.
If you do that, you won’t change the world – at least it won’t seem that way. Because those things, those little, tiny, insignificant things happen when no one else is watching, when no one else is around. There aren’t big stages to highlight people who are unwaveringly faithful. There aren’t big awards for people who serve humbly. Most of the time, those are just ordinary people from ordinary places living ordinary, Kingdom of God lives here on earth.
In a world where teens, and even children, are just aching and literally dying to be known and valuable, when a person’s worth is so questioned, can we just stop with the over-inflated ideas about life purpose and the will of God!?! Can we stop pressuring them to be world changers when Jesus just invites them to follow Him and be like Him?
I haven’t lived thirty years yet, and I don’t know what my next ten, twenty or more will hold. I still dream and I still pray big prayers but I don’t want to change the world anymore. I want to be deeply faithful, truly excellent and overflowing with the unconditional love of God. Right here. Right now. In this place. In this season.
God will take care of the rest and I’m okay with that. I’ll leave the world changing to Him – and just maybe He’ll take me along for the ride.