There is an innate desire in human beings for our lives to be meaningful, a God given desire that has all too often gone astray from Him.
One of my best memories from childhood is laying on the grass in our backyard and staring at a baseball. I would hold it above my face, rolling it in my fingertips, and feeling the stitches. Baseball was to me a marvelous sport, one that I loved everything about. I loved the dust that would fly and hover in the air when I slid to home base, I loved the crack of the bat followed by instantaneous sprinting, I loved the comfort and smell of my well broken-in Wilson leather glove, and the ball rolling off my fingertips and striking people out. I just loved it.
And I loved to be good at it. I loved for my talent to be recognized and to be “the” pitcher and feel as if winning a tournament was an honor to be solely bestowed on my shoulders.
The child like delight of playing faded over the years and in grade 11 I found myself on a rep team that had already primed the “it” pitcher. It wasn’t me. I didn’t look forward to the game anymore; I was stuck in the outfield. That was my last year of baseball, one in which I felt unrecognized, unappreciated, and unimportant. My team won tournaments, and had success, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I skipped the end of the year celebration, because well- it wasn’t about me. When it was all said and done my coach phoned and asked why I hadn’t been there. I can’t remember what I said, but I’m sure I had a lame excuse. He told me that the girls had voted for the Most Valuable Player on the team, and they had chosen me. I wasn’t there to accept that award. I was shocked that they had chosen me, proud, but also ashamed. Ashamed because I’d been too proud to imagine I had any value unless I was the star pitcher. I’d let a good year pass by miserably and I had missed the celebration.
As a kid you do the things you do because you love to do it. When you grow up, reality strikes and in a big way life becomes about making money. It’s a natural progression I suppose. In Christian communities, for women, it’s not so much about the money, but about the home making and children raising. Whatever you find yourself doing you wonder, is it enough? Enough for me? Enough for God? Enough in the eyes of others? Important enough? Impressive enough? Worthy? Valuable? Memorable?
Several years ago I was going through a period of horrid insomnia, often going without even an hour of sleep. I remember saying to a friend: “I know I am supposed to glorify God in this, but I don’t get how I can do that. Nobody is there to see it.” It was me, the endless night, and God. If I chose to worship Him, who was there to witness that God was valuable and good despite my trial? Who would be impressed or impacted if I chose to worship rather than break down?
“But God sees,” my friend said, and quite frankly, the answer didn’t satisfy me.
Let’s go back in time. When I first became a Christian I was brought into an atmosphere that taught us girls that we were princesses. There was a lot of emphasis on being “great”, or doing “great” things for God, or knowing He had a “great” purpose for your life. I spent a lot of time picturing myself on a stage with thousands of people in awe of me. I know that sounds absurd, but I’m not joking. God’s great plan was to make me beautiful, and glorious, and awesome, and instrumental in the kingdom. I was pretty sure of it.
So I didn’t see how lying awake in pain for endless hours without a crowd to witness it could ever lead to glory for God. It didn’t add up.
Fast forward to the present. I turn 28 this year. I’ve yet to have a “career” kind of job, I never finished University, I haven’t published a book, never mind been on a stage. I stay at home full time with my two and a half year old daughter, and no, I don’t sell jewelry, or baked goods, or run a photography business on the side. I have more time than most anyone I know yet my house is not the cleanest, and certainly not the most well decorated. I’ve got to tell you, I have little to impress anyone with.
At least two days a week, often more, I need to spend my day mostly lying down. My husband cooks dinner most nights because by 5 o’clock my body (thought its barely accomplished anything) is done. I can’t reach my exercise goals because for the past 3 years I really can’t walk any longer than half hour- and that is at best, and not without consequences. My hands often hurt when I type, but this is my outlet, one I’d be sore pressed to surrender. Sometimes, I leave the dishwasher full. Sometimes I make crackers and cheese for lunch. I let the weeds grow in my garden if I must, but I still stop to smell the roses, and let the weeds be.
And I’ve learned something, something I read from John Piper long ago but it takes living to learn it. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
There’s simply no one to impress. There is One- my God, to please. If I’m flat on my back I can marvel at His greatness; His face shines on me; I am oh so satisfied, and He is glorified more than if I stood impressive on some stage. No one’s applauding, but I haven’t noticed. I’ve learned that love is the most valuable and important thing I have to offer. To show delight in my child is worth more than to take her to a million places. I can write a poem for Jesus and if no one else reads it, it just doesn’t matter. It’s all for Him and He may do what He likes with it, and with me. Some lives might be small; They might seem, even embarrassingly small, yet He who only calls us to be faithful with the little or lots that He’s given us to do will reward us just the same. I don’t need to be awesome because Jesus Christ is awesome. I don’t need to point the world to me, I need to point to Jesus, all infinitely glorious.
I’ve had a perspective change and I don’t know how it came about, but I’m sure it’s been a work of God. I still want my life to be meaningful; I want it to matter, but I realize the whole of my life is in His hands. Without Him nothing is meaningful, but with Him everything is. Nothing is haphazard, there are no accidents, no more purposeless, wasteful pain. My most unaccomplished day matters because it is the day the Lord has made, and He does have plans to be honored in it. I can rejoice in Him, and even in sad days, find a hint of gladness in Him. That is my option, one that is always, ever available in a God who is always, ever, ready to receive me and give grace. My life is great, because God is great. I would never think it possible to be so happy with such a small and sometimes painful, but incredibly blessed life. My heart is full and my needs are met. I have it all, and all I need in Him.
Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”