In my reading of a book where every line could be highlighted, circled, recopied, pondered and journaled about I was reminded by the incomparable Medeleine L'engle that as a writer, which I still don't count myself as yet, "whether we are aware of it or not, we are drawing from every human being we have ever known, have passed casually in the street, sat next to on the subway, stood behind in the check-out line at the supermarket."
Though I constantly forget my possessions and the task I was just about to tackle, I rarely forget the way people and places make me feel and the conversations others are having with and around me. Voices and moods pop out, emotions prick my heart, things my eyes have viewed and my ears have heard start to relate, Truths will surface and somewhere in my mind they all meld together with my own struggles into a giant puzzle of understanding only to be construed as intense Holy Spirit work that encourages me in my doubts and hopefully flows out onto others.
A few weeks ago I texted a dear friend who just happens to have originally entered my life with the title of sister in law with a short question. Do you ever feel superfluous? Unfortunately she wasn't able to solve my problem mainly because while a loving, truthful, and encouraging response--which she most definitely gave--may be balm to the soul, it is not able to heal the heart, that job is for another entirely.
Since that day when I spoke that deep fear into the light, similar experiences and feelings of others have appeared in overwhelming proportion. It's always satisfying to know that you are not alone, but never is God's goal to let you know that misery loves company. Instead, he continues presenting your heart to you through whatever means necessary until you stop and ask 'what do you want me to learn from this and how can I draw closer to you because of it?'
Thoughts of purpose, the knowledge of what it is we have each been put on this earth to do and the overwhelming feeling that we are constantly failing at it is the common theme of all of these sharings. It breaks my heart to hear the stories of those I love and those I've never met feeling like they are less, they are failing, they are not living up to whatever standard they have placed on themselves. The most ironic of all is how I can look upon the other person and see the amazing things they do in life and think of countless ways they are shining light to the world around them all the while thinking of myself the same way they do of their own life. We all constantly fall short, of course we do, but the focus is so often on the shorts instead of the good God is doing through them.
To think of myself as superfluous, is to say that I'm insignificant and to, in turn, tell the one who created me that He, in fact, must have made a mistake. My God does not make mistakes, and I am anything but insignificant. The fault, besides the intense spiritual warfare that we never quite remember is a real and inevitable thing, is in my own view of significance, my own view of what success is. When asked that blunt question by a person who loves me regardless, I had two answers. The first was the one I know to be true based upon the Truths I have been given, the law I never on my own could have lived up to, and the faithfulness of the Father who never breaks His promises. The second was one that arises from doubt and panic based upon all the wrong things, upon what my life looks like to others and what I can hold in my hand to show off.
Yesterday in the mail I received a gardening magazine, eager to look through it since Spring Fever is banging at my door and the desire to fill our new yard with all things colorful is quite strong, I poured over it while sitting in the carpool line. A little disappointed, as I'm not planning on building raised beds or making a garden in a bale of straw, I was about to close it when I reached the last page full of jokes and quotes and read from a woman by the name of Ninon de Lenclos who lived in the 1600s. "That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful."
When you stop and trace back what you really believe then inevitably as His child you will eventually profess that God created me, God loves me unconditionally because of the sacrifice of His son, God is good and He is sovereign.
"Beautiful things don't ask for attention" (Secret Life of Walter Mitty) they reflect on their own without pomp, without spotlights. He makes everything beautiful in it's time (Eph 3:11) and I can trust that the work He does through me is beautiful to Him and that alone is what matters.
It is only abiding in that knowledge that we can even attempt to say "However, I can consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace (Acts 20;24)." There's my purpose and I can do it anywhere and through anything, whether I "see" the success or not.