For anyone whose life is connected to an academic calendar, September is a season of transition. Transition from summertime recreation to a renewed sense of productivity. For me it is always a time to closely examine the roles that define me and give my life purpose.
In the past I have struggled during the annual fall transition with comparison. As my boys go back to school, and my friends and peers pour themselves into their work, I spend considerable time evaluating my own life and comparing my roles to others. Are the things I do good enough or meaningful enough? Do they matter? Unfortunately this trail of thinking has often left me consumed by doubt and illusions of greener grass
But this year is different.
This year I have an anchor. An anchor that is rooted in the good soil created by intentional prayer and vulnerable conversations. My anchor has been found in seeking, recognizing, and celebrating God’s unique purposes for me. The things He created me to accomplish as a part of His Kingdom work on earth in hopes of making it more of a reflection of heaven.
One of our culture’s greatest myths is that we can have it all. It’s a lie because it denies both the reality and the honor of sacrifice. Every time we choose to do something, it results in us being unable to do something else. Believing the lie that we can do everything creates a heart consumed by dissatisfaction. And it tempts us to find our bearings by comparing ourselves to others.
Comparison is always a soul crusher. It limits the abundant flow of God’s love in and through our lives. Because comparison deceives us into arrogantly believing that our choices are superior, just as easily as it can defeat us into believing that our lives are lacking or inferior or riddled with too many mistakes.
Lasting peace and deep satisfaction are not found in holding on to a belief that our choices are the best. That false sense of superiority just temporarily takes the sting out of what we gave up. And it dishonors the value of great things happening in and through people who choose differently. The truth is that everyone is sacrificing something. We better serve ourselves and others when we are honest and authentic about the longing we sometimes feel for the opportunities and experiences we gave up along the way. And we should love others well enough to invite them to safely do the same.
The details of my journey do not outline the path that is right for everyone, just the one that is right for me. My path is where God chooses to show me how much He values my unique design. To impress upon me the truth that the creator of heaven and earth imagined, designed, and crafted me with great love and personal care. Because God takes great delight in showcasing His all-surpassing creativity to mankind, which is most fully reflected by the collection all of us together.
Recently I witnessed a living portrait of God’s collective and creative beauty. It happened at a “Woman of Valor” party. (It’s the photo at the top of this post.) A celebration of the end of one season of bible study before commencing a new one. We dressed up, made fancy hors d’oeuvres, and sat together in a tightly-fitted circle while each of us shared something that we have recently accomplished or overcome. The ways that we see God using us that are meaningful and restoring. And the ways that we are daring to take risks.
Some women shared about the joy of recent marriages. Some shared about appreciating the value singleness. One woman shared about the peace of stepping back from her career to stay home with her baby. Another woman shared about the satisfaction pouring into both her baby and her career. Women shared about moving to new cities or back home to pursue education. They shared about the courage to overcome fear and anxiety to say yes to relationships, experiences, travel, and opportunities that in the past had felt impossible. They shared about moments when someone they served was helped or inspired because of their work.
Every woman spoke without defensiveness or apology. And listened without judging, ranking, or comparing. By the end of the evening everyone had been celebrated with shouts of joy, applause, words of affirmation, and blessing. And it was BEAUTIFUL.
We talked about how all of the things we shared and celebrated are anchors. Anchors that reminds us of God’s unique calling, purpose, and plan for each of us. They remind us of the great delight that He takes when we embrace our hand-crafted roles in His Kingdom work. As well as the invitation He gives us to share in the joy celebrating others. And we all received a bracelet to help us remember.
This is a huge part of what it means to live a life of freedom. The freedom to live a life of abundant joy, and love, and unity with all of God’s people. A life that is anchored in the belief that I am fearfully and wonderfully made – for a time such as this – to fulfill my very specialized place in God’s beloved creation. And I don’t need to look to the right or the left to measure my value and worth. I just need to keep looking into the face of Jesus.