I turned thirty a few months ago, it felt like a pretty big deal to me, the big 3-0 had finally arrived and there I was hitting snooze and guzzling down coffee like nothing had changed.
I always looked at turning thirty as the epitome of when my life would feel like it came all together. When I struggled or wanted to change something in my twenties I always did it under the safe guise of “well I don’t have to figure this all out, it’s only my twenties, I have time before I need to have it figured out”.
Wether consciously or subconsciously thirty was the fall back plan, I didn’t have to have the answers now I just had to have them by then.
I spent all ten years of my twenties trying, failing, succeeding some, then changing it up and trying something else. I navigated a lot of those changes battling shame and insecurity that I hadn’t found the right path, that I was behind everyone else. All my friends who had graduated grad school with flourishing careers in their future, my friends who had been building careers and ministries for several years and there I was still pacing through the wildflowers.
Pacing and praying.
I used to pace, almost daily, most certainly weekly in my backyard where the wildflowers grew year round, I’d pace the flowers and pray, I’d dialogue with God begging for clarity of what I should be doing my life. “Do I start this business, do I write this book, do I start this non-profit, just tell me Lord and I will move forward.” The “I’s” of it all make me cringe a little bit when I look back, I was spinning my brain in circles trying to make sense of something God hadn’t even spoken to me.
I love ideas, at any given point I have several businesses, ministries, book concepts and domain names swirling around my head. Even today as I logged in to write this post I was met with seven domains I have on reserve just in case I want to follow those ideas someday. I have written emails with proposals for App concepts to venture capitalists in Silicone Valley, I have walked up to huge leaders at conferences and stopped them to gain their ear for a word of encouragement, I have taken risks and put myself out there multiple times with no traction in sight and a lot of embarrassment in the aftermath.
After each attempt to charge a mountain I would return, once again to the wildflowers, pacing and praying, asking God for guidance. All I wanted was God to come down sit among those flowers with me and give me clear and concise direction. As beautiful as spending time in prayer with God can be (and certainly not wasted), I think a lot of this time was distorted by an idol in disguise. An idol that consumed my thought life, robbed me of contentment, and distracted me from living the life right in front of me.
Disguised as a friend nudging me from every corner of the internet and Christian culture, the idol of calling had become my most formidable foe. My husband and I have talked a lot about the toxicity of how people throw the word “calling” and “purpose” around today, especially toxic to me and my millennial and Gen Z friends. Theres a thing you, we, me should be doing to make a difference in the world and while we make that difference we will also build a platform, a platform that allows us to achieve or reach this or that, but also a platform that gets us “famous” or exposure at the same time. Most people wouldn’t say they cared about the platform but that’s part of the dream of success right, a big platform, further reach and greater impact. Or so we tell ourselves and so we deceive ourselves into believing calling has more to do with us than the one who called us.
Calling made the idea of turning thirty scary, dark and daunting. Calling made me question every decision in my twenties, calling gave me crippling anxiety and an unhealthy need for human approval and acceptance. Figuring out my calling was all encompassing. Calling made me pace in prayer when I should–like the wildflowers–be planted in prayer. When your prayers look more like a carousel spinning around and around trying to will an answer into being this should be a warning sign that what you’re asking God is the wrong question.
What if calling has far less to do with what you should be doing and more to do with who you are becoming? What if we stopped spinning our wheels to build something new and asked God what have you already made that you want me to be a part of? What is something you want me to contribute to, to come alongside and serve in my area of gifting directly in my path today?
What if we stopped (for a moment) to see what God has placed in our life today and how can we honor those things by serving with a glad heart, by being faithful in the small, and by breathing in the air around you? I have a suspicion we’d become less self focused and more fulfilled in the everyday living of it all. And who knows what God wants to do from that place of surrender, He is the God who brought something out of nothing, and it was in the very nothingness of it all God took me to a new season of adventure and contentment, but I had to stop pacing the wildflowers to get there.
Take This With You…
- Do not use 30 as a back up plan for getting your life together. The idea that there is a certain age in when your life is supposed to come together is silly and ridiculous (this is the wrong side of Heaven friends), I believe God wants to do something in you at every age and season of you life. 30 is just a number and a reminder you probably can’t eat a Big Mac without repercussion any more.
- Dreaming is not disobedient, I pray you celebrate the things inside you that make you special. I am proud of my confidence in my dreams, ideas and my ability to create something out of nothing and give it ground to stand on. I think those things are God’s design living out in me; so don’t every stop exploring what God has put in you but don’t allow the idea of becoming or doing something pull your focus from the one who created you to do them.
- Spend some time determining what calling actually means to you, have the words “calling” and “purpose” given you a false sense of what living a Spirit filled life with Jesus looks like? Define calling without influence from the internet or people who may want something from you. Know what you think and why you think it so it doesn’t become an unhealthy standard to live by.