It’s easy, when your main job involves staying at home and doing things you love (or at least think you love…most of the time…except when you don’t), to remain focused on yourself. And the longer you stay at home, the harder it can be to force yourself to look outside at others, other needs, and other opportunities.
I’ve been reading, for my devotions, a book called The Peace Project. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about this book. It isn’t one of those that you start, read from beginning to end, are unable to put down, are constantly wowed by the amazing insights, and can’t wait to tell a friend to read because it changed your life. It’s quieter than that. Soothing. Gentle, daily reminders to at least think about, if not practice, gratitude and kindness. But that soft prying into your inner life can’t help but make one think. Have I been kind lately? Have I looked for opportunities to serve others? Have I noticed when someone other than me (or my significant other) actually needs something, whether it be an act of service, or just an encouraging word? So, that, along with a few other proddings from God, and a conversation between myself and my husband, made me start thinking maybe I should consider looking for opportunities to serve people other than myself. To stop being so caught up in what I want, and be willing to be tired for the interest of others.
So, when an opportunity arose in an organization I am part of to volunteer for the year as a Social Media Coordinator, I closed my eyes, resisted, finally succumbed…and volunteered. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do all that work, instead of just sitting in my writing room (or, as I currently am, on the sofa in the living room, staring at the Christmas tree), nor was I sure I was qualified…after all, I’ve made no secret of how much I dislike social media. But the organization was pleading for volunteers, talking about how much they needed people to step up, and I knew it was time to step outside of myself and my comfort zone and be willing to help someone else.
And then someone else volunteered as well, an election was held, and the other person was elected. Can we talk about confused emotions? Rejection, followed by relief, followed by more rejection, followed by downright confusion.
I’ve been working hard lately on readjusting my definition of success to finding identity in God instead of looking for publication or outside validation to tell me I am good enough. But it is a daily battle…often an hourly battle…and this just kind of started a mini avalanche. I mean, it has been over a year, and, as I wrote in my journal this morning, I have yet to get a short story published, win a contest, get a full manuscript request, or do anything else that could even be remotely considered moving forward. And then, on top of that, I finally step outside of myself to try and help others and that gets shut down too. What am I doing wrong? Doesn’t God want me to do something with my life? What if I am completely missing His actual call? What if there’s something He wants me to do and I’m so focused on what I THINK He wants me to do that I’m just missing the boat? What if this is all just a big mistake and I should go back and get back into my career, where I actually made a difference in people’s lives? I sat in utter confusion and, yes, sadness, and asked God what He wanted of me. Because I certainly didn’t know.
And then, like a faithful servant should, I did my devotions anyway. Today’s chapter in The Peace Project was about joy. Specifically, choosing joy. But it was more than that. It was about realizing that you are Okay. Because you belong to God. Near the end of the chapter, the author literally wrote these words:
You’re okay. Today, whether you feel it or not, you’ve been declared and made okay. You don’t have to have that certain job or participate in an activity or wear cool clothes, drive a certain car, or live in a type of house to be okay.”The Peace Project, Kay Wills Wyma
I’m pretty sure God had her write those words specifically so I could read them on this day.
Further down in the page, the author admires the fog on her drive, noting that it hides what is there. Whether you can see something or not does not affect the truth of its existence. Even if you can’t see something today, doesn’t mean it won’t be there tomorrow.
So today, I am trying to “rest in joy”, and remember that the God who created me has declared me “okay”, and I don’t have to achieve specific accomplishments to actually be okay. It will still be a daily struggle, I have no doubt, but I am grateful that God put a book in my life for a such a day as this.