2011, lessons & a box o' chocolates...
There was a good chunk of time in my life where I'm pretty sure I lived the picture shown here. Have you ever felt this way? If I move, I swear that rock is going to squish me like an oooh-too-slow-mosquito on the arm of an all-too-attentive-kid. Just little old me against the world. I wasn't quite brave enough, or strong enough, or smart enough to out-brave, out-strong and out-smart the world.
... But the funny thing about this picture - is that I'm not really holding up that rock. Actually, I'm not even touching it. That rock has been sitting on the side of that mountain in-the-middle-of-no-where-North-Dakota since God played some random game of Jenga. No assistance from me required for it to maintain its position - in fact - it is actually perfectly balanced - perfectly planned exactly as it rests. And similarly, I found my gifts were not found in my need to prove my courage, strength, smarts or capabilities to anyone. I just simply needed to settle into them myself and let them rest a little without the fear or anxiety that things would fall apart.
So starting my year, I've taken a little evaluation of my life so far and for the first time, I feel like I am where I am supposed to be - exactly as I am supposed to be. No, not everything is absolutely perfect - but a certain peace has settled over me. I think Philippians 4: 4-10 says it best (as it's one of my favorites) :
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This isn't the first time I've felt this way - it's a reoccurring theme. But there is something so surprising and special about it - like someone gave me a quick glance at the plans for a giant building not quite built yet - suddenly you get to understand a little bit of the architect's vision. I feel as though I am seeing how the steps that I have walked to this very moment of my life - had an actual purpose. The good stuff and the tough stuff and the stuff I never understood - they were preparing me for something. And if I just settle in and relax a little - maybe I'll enjoy my walk a little more - rejoicing in all things - understanding that there is an unforeseen purpose in all of it - and by the way - staying on the path is a good idea, even when we don't understand why.
Lately I've seen it over and over again in a few things I've been reading - What are you gifts? Where do you excel? What are your strengths? And how can your strengths actually improve your weaknesses? How can letting your strengths shine not only change you, but also the reality of the people around you? Can what you possess in you, teach and inspire and heal and protect and grow something which may have been dormant before? And how amazing is it that these things have combined in you exactly as they have been combined in you? There is no one in the whole existence of the entire world that is exactly as you are. You are an only - and you are remarkable.
Too much of our lives is spent on what we have to, or should do - instead of finding our life's vocation - what is it that we were really meant to do. I might be a Project Manager for my job - but I love to write and cook and garden and sing; and I love my family and children and people and art and music. I will never JUST be a Project Manager - 1 dimensional - singularly angled. Maybe I will always be one as my job, but if I'm not fostering all of who I am, will I live out who I was really meant to be to my fullest potential?
And so, that is where I will leave you for my new years 2011 post - with the same challenge I'm unravelling in myself - and maybe a few lessons by some guys who maybe put it together a smidge nicer than I did :) (Boys, Lesson One - Jars of Clay)