Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You have influence

We all have those seasons. We all wonder at one point or another what we were thinking when we got into something... We wonder if what we are doing really matters. Why am I at college? Why did I take this job? Why did homeschooling seem so perfect? Why did I think that the world needed another blog? We want our life to matter.

I don't like to waste my time or my effort. I don't have a hard time saying no to things. I'm a dreamer and a perfectionist though and that makes it really hard for me to decide what it is that I really want to throw myself into. I want what I do to succeed and I am afraid to fail. GOALS. Goals are critical to making what you do count but I have avoided making them for fear of failing to reach them. I didn't understand that experimenting and goal-making goes hand-in-hand. There is room for failure in goal-making because there is room for failure in experimenting. {Thank you, John Saddington for showing me that!} "Through failing we learn, through success not so much." // Meet the Robinsons
Our culture expects us to know exactly, specifically what we are going to do with our life by our senior year of high school. I was very secure in Christ and knew that going to college would be a waste of my time and my energy (not to mention my money) so I wasn't ashamed to tell people that my plan was not to go to college. But, now, I'm 3 years removed from high school graduation and those expectations and probing questions still haunt my mind. Since my "plan" is to be a wife and a mother, but The Lord has seen fit for me to remain single up to this point, it is so easy to feel like I am not doing anything with my life, like I'm failing at life. But the fact is that these years are for experimenting and discovering, growing and changing. "I may not know the way I go but, oh, I know my Guide!" Life is a winding road and I don't need to know the step-by-step plan because the One leading me each step of the way knows it. Seriously, "it's the climb"! {Anne Bogel was used by God to give me this peace-bringing perspective.}

Being vulnerable along the way is out of the question when you're afraid to fail and you often feel that you already have failed because you never even "started", according to culture. "I don't have a vision for the entirety of my life." Why would I want to share that with anyone? But when I am secure in the hands of Christ and my identity is wrapped up in Him rather than my achievements (or lack thereof) I can share my weaknesses and be vulnerable without fear, because even in my weakest moments I am strong, for Christ lives in me. The story of my life is that I am not good enough, but there is hope and a future for me in Christ! If I can help others to see that, see themselves through His eyes, by being vulnerable, consider it done! {Nish Weiseth, you gave me the push I needed. Thank you!}

This is relatable. Doesn't everybody have a dream? Don't we all feel a bit paralyzed by fear of failure when it comes to pursuing those dreams? There is that inspiration in our lives that keeps our dream alive and at the same time makes us feel so inadequate and unqualified. Oh to be a writer like Jo March in Little Women! Or, a great cook like Julia Child! Or, a world changer for Christ like Hudson Taylor or Amy Carmichael! With the exception of fictional characters, all those people were just ordinary people like you and I, and there isn't any reason that we couldn't reach our dreams like they did. Jenna Weber, Julie Powell, Jackie Pullinger and Katie Davis are a few examples of people from this day and age that achieved their goals without being "qualified". {Allie Lehman made comparing myself with an inspirational person motivating and profitable, rather than depressing, and Jenna Weber has become an inspiration herself, though she probably doesn't see that.}
Of course self-determination and hard work can only get you so far, but the distance The Lord can take you if you are fully surrendered to Him is inconceivable. You want your life to count? Do everything for the glory of God. He is so ready to show you how to glorify Him in all areas of your life and to give you all you need to do it. "The world has yet to see what a life fully yielded to God can do." What a thought! As the Body we ought to be spurring one another on to greater depths of surrender and striving to abide more fully all the time. {Sarah Matheny, your life is a testimony of the change and glory that comes from surrender. It is beautiful!}

At the end of the day we will feel like what we are doing counts if it is our passion (something The Lord wired us to be good at and to love doing) or our purpose (one of the specific things that The Lord created us for, for such a time as this). Our passions and purposes aren't always clear when we are up to our eyeballs in work, dealing with pain, in difficult and stressful circumstances or lost in mundanity. "All you who are weary and heavy laden, come to Me and I will give you rest." Consider that an invitation to cast all your cares upon Him and pour out your heart to Him, take a step back and let Him remind you of the bigger picture.
I was able to do that very intentionally a few mornings ago and the clarity I received was incredible. To find that in the midst of all my many passions my greatest ones are sharing my heart and knowing people well and loving them well... To find that one of my purposes is advocating for vulnerable children and showing others the beauty that lies in the mundane. It doesn't sound like much but I truly believe that seemingly insignificant things have far more of an impact than we imagine. Just being Christ's love to my family is enough. If that is all I did with my whole life it would be enough.
So if your passion is bringing joy through letter-writing and you're at college, perhaps your purpose is bringing joy to the girls in your dorm. If your passion is teaching and you're a homeschool mom who's kids don't seem to have a passion for learning, perhaps your purpose is to teach them by example how to extend grace and unconditional love and to be long suffering. If your passion is art and you work in a cubicle answering phones, perhaps your purpose is the art of communicating Christ through your tone of voice (that's a bit of a stretch but you see what I'm getting at). {Barrett Ward made passion and purpose feel way less complicated and far more attainable. His secret? Ask The Lord. It works.}

So you're sitting there in front of your screen, one of the members of the blogging world and you just don't think it really matters if you write or not. Really hear me when I say that your voice matters and it makes a difference.

This is what I learned at the Influence conference.
And now I get to share it with you!

Much love,
Chelsea

P.S. The community of "friends" you have in the blog world, though it feels so intangible, is the same as having those friends in the real world. Don't be afraid. Say hi!

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