It's 5:30 a.m.
My brain is knocking around in my head while I nurse my cranky teether for the eleventy-milloneth time. But my body is still definitely completely asleep.
(Did you know I write most of my stuff in my head... because... babies have a habit of filling up my hands. I transcribe to paper when they're eating. Sometimes I lie and say I have to pee so they'll let me run out of the room and hide in the bathroom to scribble. Only when they're asleep do I actually type. Kickin' it old school. I share this because, you can always find a way to walk in your calling from the Lord... it just might be a bit of a traveling circus. No shame. Dance, monkey, dance!)
When you experience a flicker of success, does it come with a little joy and a LOT of new fears? New pressures to do better next time (or at least as good)? A new level of excitement that can slowly and sneakily morph into anxiety? A bar that was hard to reach in the first place has been bumped ever so slightly up. Dang it. Grace that was hard to claim for yourself becomes ever so slightly even more illusive.
*Raises Hand* Present! That's me! This is my story!
It's been my story foooooor-eeev-er.
When I was probably 12 or 13 I got this Christian teen girl magazine. (Do ya'll with the super excited Protestant Evangelical parents remember Brio Magazine? Susie Shellenberger? Uh huh. Some of you are all, "OMGYAAAS!!" and the rest are like, "Um no. What?")
Every year they had a competition to select "Brio Girl." You submitted some essays and tidbits about you. Out of a couple thousand girls they picked 12. Then 8. Then 4. Then that one shining, beautiful, mature girl who would lead and inspire us all for the year. She would write a column in the magazine for a year on girl's issues.
I was one of the 12. I think I got a free CD as a prize.
I was so excited! It was everything I'd dreamed of. Other 12 year olds dream about boys... ok, bad example, I was obsessed with boys, but ALSO I dreamed about writing a column for Brio Magazine. M'LIIIFE!!!
But it crippled me. Yep, you read that right. The success. The success sent me off in a complete tailspin of anxiety, dread, feelings of unworthiness, fear. My mom was so concerned by my weird reaction that she took me to a counselor. I was legit bent out of shape.
I didn't have the words to describe what I was experiencing at that time... the feelings when we reach for something with all our might... if we never get close, it's like, "Oh well, la de dah, at least I gave it a good shot." But if we reach hard and our fingers actually brush against it, suddenly (pardon the phrase) shit gets real. It's not just a fluffy ethereal vague possibility any more. Now it's something I could actually have... which means it is something I could actually lose. And since it is still just barely out of my reach (remember the brushing finger tips?) the insecurity is treacherous.
I wasn't one of the 8. My journey ended. I was never Brio Girl. It was my very first brush with failure. Real failure. (Not just sucking at piano practice and algebra. That's a given. We all get to suck at piano and algebra for free.) It was almost a relief. The ladder ended. The journey was over. I knew the end of the story. Aaaannnnd, Scene! My work is done here.
One of my blog posts has started trending around a small corner of the internet. (WUT?!) Last night as I lay in bed, all I felt was fear. It's easier to fly under the radar and do your thing for yourself. It's harder when people might be watching. It's easier to hide in a crowd. It's hard to be seen.
Here is the sweet word that entered my mind at 5:30 while nursing the fat little one: A calling from the Lord does not mean you get success (and all the pressure that goes with it). It means you get to step forward. One small step.
God is good isn't he? When he gives us a calling, he doesn't drop it on us and peace out. He doesn't leave us to carry it, push it, maneuver it toward success for him and report back with our exceptional results. He will carry it. It is up to us to step. Just step. Just one more step.
Does that give your heart peace? It sure did touch me.