A few years ago, around the time we decided to adopt, I started getting restless.
I don’t know why or how, but life had begun to feel like a pair of ill-fitting pants.
Our adoption progressed, we traveled to Rwanda, and the feeling intensified. In the years that followed, it overtook everything. I walked around with this disorienting sense of expectation, as if some life-altering revelation was mere heartbeats away.
When it didn’t come, I went searching for it. I looked around, as I’m prone to do, and saw I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. All across America, Christian women were rising up and embarking on bold, brave, Jesus-freak leaps of faith. They were starting non-profits, adopting dozens of orphans, blogging their way through brothels and human trafficking rings.
These women were putting it all on the line in the name of Jesus, love, and social justice.
What’s MY Thing?
Surely I had something to offer this movement. My restlessness had to be God’s prodding to get off my duff and take part in a bigger life, a life devoted to world change and Kingdom work.
But where did I fit? I had three young kids, an overworked husband, and a business that consumed more time than either of us had to give. How could I fit in anything else? What could I cut?
I chafed at my immobility. Desperate for direction, I devoured books written by women leading the charge. They taught me good, wise, noble things:
- Surrender everything.
- Be open to anything.
- Give Him your all, with abandon.
Yes! My soul shouted. “Here I am, Lord, send ME!”
But where? When? How?
I analyzed my talents, passions, and experiences, certain they were a roadmap leading to my hidden calling. I wanted nothing more than the satisfaction of saying, “THIS is it. THIS is what I was born to do with my life.”
Another trip to Rwanda ensued, inspired in large part by this restless quest for purpose. Tim and I were on the same page, ready to say yes to whatever God put in front of us. Was He calling us to Africa long-term, as he had several families in our adoption community? Would the answer to this restlessness finally come when our feet stood once more on Rwandan soil?
We felt many things during our return to Rwanda. Belonging. Delight. Yearning. The land and people felt like home, and far from quenching my thirst to be there, the trip only deepened it.
Yet there was no “ah-ha, this is it” enlightenment. We flew home with a sense of closure. We would return, certainly. But as much as we love Rwanda, it wasn’t where we belonged full-time. Not then. And not now.
In the weeks after our trip, the kids went back to school, we began attending a new church, and our business’s busy season launched with gusto. With all the activity, we had little time to process Rwanda, let alone contemplate our life’s purpose.
To be honest, I was weary of searching. Our path forward was as ambiguous as ever. I felt sidelined. Why had God called so many of my friends to big things, while leaving me on the bench? Was I missing something? Was I really so unusable?
Over the coming months I slipped into a season of quietness. I shut out social media, television, even relationships. I was in recovery, or maybe hiding. I felt like Elijah on the mountainside, exhausted and discouraged. I’d looked for God in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire.
I should have guessed He would come then, when I quieted my world enough to hear His whisper.
I’d been concentrating so hard on all the things I might be or might do, I’d overlooked the things He’d already put in front of me.
I was a wife, called to love, respect, and support my husband. Was I being faithful to that calling?
I was a mother, called to love, disciple, and train my children in God’s ways. Was I being faithful to that calling?
I was a follower of Jesus, called to live and proclaim the Gospel wherever I was planted. Was I being faithful to that calling?
Sometimes going all-in for Jesus means surrendering ends-of-the-earth ambition in favor of your own personal Jerusalem. It means that after you say, “Anything, God,” you follow it up with, “But this is enough, if it’s where You want me.”
Servanthood Doesn’t Have to Be Sexy
Maybe it’s our culture, or maybe just our nature, but we tend to celebretize the people we admire. Take a compelling message and a healthy dose of charisma, sprinkle it with fashion sense, throw in social justice and a few book deals, and you’ve got next year’s Sexiest Christian Alive.
I’m not criticizing our Christian leaders, only our affinity for fame. We forget that ministry isn’t supposed to be sexy, it’s supposed to be about Jesus.
Do you struggle with this, as I do? Do you forget that being an authentic Jesus follower doesn’t always mean Doing Big Things? If you’re where I’ve been in all this striving, let’s set ourselves free right now, together.
It’s okay to live a small life. As long as our lives are about Jesus.
Jesus. A simple carpenter, born homeless in a nowhere town. The man-God who left his place of glory in heaven to wrap himself up in the fragile, broken body of a mortal. The definition of humble.
Our Jesus doesn’t need big, bold, radical action. He doesn’t need anything from us. But he deserves everything. He deserves to hear us say, “Anything, Jesus. On the stage or behind it, I serve for your glory.”
I’m still learning what that means, what it looks like in this little suburban life of mine. On the outside it might seem monotonous: packing lunches, doing laundry, asking my husband what I can take off his to-do list. But inside the drama never ends: will I choose anger or compassion? show kindness or contempt? be selfish or patient?
If God calls me to something or someplace headline-worthy, so be it. But for now He’s got plenty of work to do right here, in my willing but weak heart. And I have just one thing to say about that:
P.S. While writing this post, lyrics from an old Twila Paris song kept replaying in my head. It’s a beautiful song, and wholly relevant. Click here to listen, or read an excerpt of the lyrics below.
Where He Leads Me
by Twila Paris
There’s a great, broad road, through the meadow,
And many travel there,
But I have a gentle Shepherd,
I would follow anywhere,
Up a narrow path, Through the mountains,
To the valley far below,
To be ever in His presence,
Where He leads me I will go.
And there are many wondrous voices,
Day and night they fill the air,
But there is one so small and quiet,
I would know it anywhere,
In the city or in the wilderness,
There’s a ringing crystal clear,
And to be ever close beside Him,
When He calls me I will hear.