‘You’re seeing specific faces, hey? You’re not just worried about what people will think. You’re worried about what certain people will think.’
My husband is perceptive like that. It’s possible he knows me incredibly well.
He said this after my publishers told me the manuscript that I worked hard to finish ahead of schedule – and that they’ve worked hard to prepare for all the right catalogues – won’t be released for Mother’s Day 2018. Which was the plan. But is no longer the plan.
It’ll go to print soon enough; just not as soon as we’d hoped.
That’s not a big deal, you say. Except, in my world on that day, it was a big deal. My hopes were flying high above the bright horizon of expectation. Then they weren’t.
But Murray was spot on. The disappointment was much less about delayed royalties, and much more about not having something to show – sooner! – for the nine months of lonely laptop time during which it must’ve appeared to people whose high opinion I covet that I don’t lead a very productive life.
He also (diplomatically) reminded me of what Andy Stanley said about submitting to authority – to people who know more than us (about, say, the publishing industry). And being grateful (even grudgingly) for checks and balances in place to protect us – because we’re seldom the smartest, wisest, most experienced person in the room.
Then I came across this from Mother Teresa:
‘I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.’
Somewhere else she wrote:
‘I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.’
She was all about being the pencil. The little pencil. She wasn’t even a highlighter. A glitter pen! She was a broken pencil and she knew ultimately there’d be no trace left of her in this world. Only the marks of Him. His story. His glory.
She was totally ok for Him to do the writing.
I shared all the humble pie I’d been eating with my awesome friend Sam over flat whites in our Activewear – and she was, like, ME TOO! Me freakin’ too. Because we both want to Do Big Kingdom Things and she told me God had fed her in much the same humbling way that very morning, with this from Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest):
After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him… When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world…
It’s hard to see this stuff in the mirror, but it’s possible we’re all somewhere on the narcissism spectrum. And we absolutely have to get out of our own way so God can work out – not our purposes – but His purposes, through us.
We’ve got to be less hung up on feeling called to something grand, when all we’re ever really called to do is die to self.
I mean, hundreds of sisters in Mother Teresa’s order were never venerated for their sacrifice. Thousands fought for freedom alongside Nelson Mandela with no boulevards named after them.
So it’s possible – actually, it’s likely – that you and I will live and lead without vindication.
And that is so fine.
Because when we surrender to the only God who can make something meaningful of our lives –
when we stop investing so heavily in our ambitions and agendas –
it’s remarkably liberating.
Disentangled from self-interest, we’re fantastically free to go where He tells us to go, and do what He tells us to do.
Maybe then, the only face we’ll see in our mind’s eye – the only person we’ll really try to impress – will be Jesus.
. . .
Have a brilliant weekend, friend! Feel free to share this post with your people.
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