I’m not overwhelmed and throwing in the towel. Not yet. Not exactly. I really want to talk about our clawing for more. For constant progress. For trying to be the best or at least better than you are.
The question I’m asking myself and I’m asking you is this: “What if exactly what you are, where you are is exactly what God wants for you right now?” I mean, at what point does your Always-Keeping-An-Eye-On-The-Horizon-Of-What’s-Next distract you from what God is doing right now? Maybe a better title of this article would’ve been, “When Can Enough Be Enough?”
I’m tired. I bet you are too. Being a parent is no walk in the park. Being an adoptive parent is something altogether different. Mix all this with the snares of being human and we wear ourselves out. There’s so much striving in our lives. So much trying to whittle our lives down to fit into a specific shape. But what if the rough edges are there by design for something only God knows about? We spend so much energy trying to conform our lives into something we’ve seen on Pinterest. We diet and style and dream and tear ourselves apart when what we attempt doesn’t match up to our expectations.
I may be wrong, but I think we all have this thing about us that wants to be the best at something. We want to find our niche and win more times than we lose. But the trouble I’m having lately is in trying to find a time Jesus taught us to strive to be the best. Not once did God call the most qualified. Moses argued with God about how He’d chosen the wrong man because he wasn’t capable of doing what God was asking of him. The Bible and our lives are filled with examples confirming this. And yet, somehow we’ve been led to believe that the pursuit of being the best is honoring to God.
But what if it’s not? What if stewarding average is what brings God the most glory? What if doing normal stuff is what makes your life legendary?
I realize this is unconventional. Even as I write it, my body winces. I’ve spent so much of my life from the time I was a teenager trying to be better, to be more attractive, to give employers a reason to hire or promote me. To build a larger audience, a better platform, a bigger following. But if I believe that God only gets glory when I’m this person I dream of being sometime in the future, then do I consequently ignore the opportunity to bring him glory with my life exactly how it is right now in the chaos of doctor’s appointments, paperwork, dossiers, home studies, attachment, etc.?
I had a conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago. I was talking about all these high-capacity people I know and struggling to learn how they do it and wrestling with my own insecurities and deficiencies. He said to me, “You realize that’s exactly what people say about you and your wife, right? How they’re in awe of you and all you guys are able to do. Your wife homeschools the kids, you both work full time, you guys have adopted two kids with special needs and somehow you’ve taught your children how to be the envy of every parent you meet.”
But I have a hard time believing him. It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t feel high-capacity. I simply feel average. I don’t feel like I measure up. I’m 39 years old and still reaching for something. Sometimes I can pinpoint it. But more often it just feels like I’m reaching for something that I can’t quite see.
I struggle with feeling like I’m enough; a Just-As-I-Am kind of enough. Sometimes I think maybe God is more pleased with Those People who are getting more done in a day than I can in a week. The ones whose houses don’t desperately need painting or a new roof or floors that need to be patched and refinished. The ones with free time to read to their kids without feeling desperate to just get them to bed so you can sit down and take a deep breath for the first time today.
Those People have it together. Those People are my dream. Those People must be knocking it out of the park with Jesus.
But the problem is, Those People are not me. And for all the years I’ve been alive, I just haven’t figured out how to be Those People. Likely because God didn’t design me to be Those People.
I’m designed for something else.
My something may not be a thing that attracts thousands of followers on Instagram. My something maybe doesn’t lead to a publishing deal. But what if my something is something that stirs the hearts of those in my family to love Jesus more, to care more for others, and to become what God has made for them to become?
I feel the tension you’re feeling right now. The tension between hesitancy and hope. Believe me. I’m feeling it. If you’re thinking, “This guy has lost it. He’s suggesting a life of mediocrity and a let-it-be kind of ignorance,” you’re not far off. I think it’s crazy, too.
But maybe what I’m suggesting here is that we consider what life would look like if we abolish our self-imposed grading scale.
Why do we let ourselves believe our social media heroes are the definition of success? So what if what you do is change diapers all day, or wrestle with the insurance company, or drive an Uber? What if that’s exactly what you’re supposed to be doing? I’m not saying your dreams are bad, but what if your blinding pursuit of them (or even your absent-minded daydreaming of them) is a blockade to being the best version of you right now?
Your kids don’t need an awesome mom in 20 years. They need a present mom now. Your family doesn’t need a man who hides in a laboratory until all the kinks have been worked out. What could happen if instead of striving to build a better you, you chose to just be the best version of the you you are right now and trust God to give the increase if that’s what would bring him glory? Don’t you see?
God’s glory doesn’t rely on your accomplishments, but instead on your faithfulness. We can’t quantify the glory of God or what God defines as great. The greatest to ever live (Jesus) even balked at the idea of being labeled “great.” Greatness in the eyes of the world and greatness in the perspective of heaven must be two very different things.
I’m certain some of us will one day be better known than we are today. Some of us may become household names. Some of us may have an idea that turns into a multi-billon dollar industry. But none of this changes the call to simply just be you. There’s no curve. No level-ups. No ladders; unless the ladder helps you move downward to those in need.
Jesus was unequivocally the best, even though he wouldn’t have said so. But what if instead of doing what the Father had sent him to do he’d tried to be like Buddha, or Krishna, Odysseus, Romulus, or Horus? All these deities had enormous followings. Beloved by many. If Jesus would’ve modeled his life after any of these “successful” gods, we would still be dead in our sins, separated from God.
Looking back, we see the greatness of Jesus. But when he walked this earth, he did so in the most average sort of way (Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?). Wasn’t that his whole point? To come to be one of us? To be normal like us and show us that it has nothing to do with climbing the mountain to get to God, but instead, God climbed down to live among us in our dusty, broken down houses and lives. DL Moody says, “We are leaky vessels, and have to keep right under the fountain all the time in order to stay full.” Some might look at this as a flaw but what if this by design?
If Jesus could shake out of the accolades of heaven to come down to fulfill the work God sent him to do, can we shake the temptation to be something else and just be and do exactly what God has designed for us, regardless of whether anyone else thinks it’s awesome or average?
What would our families look like if we could embrace the mundane? What if we could shift our perspective and begin to see the mundane as the miraculous? What if our children could see us experience life like they do… eyes wide open to the possibilities of right now, absent of comparison, overcome with the exhilaration, the supremacy of the moment? Can we let tomorrow worry about itself?
We have a legacy to leave, the seeds of which can only be planted today.