They told me I should do this, be like this, act this way, go here and go there and show everyone what I was made of. They told me I had talents and should go somewhere and make myself money. They told me I was creative and gifted and that I should go get a degree and establish financial security for myself.
Who is “they”?
The world, of society, of my close friends and family, and just about any other group of people I could mention.
And they told me these things because they cared.
Here I am on the verge of 25 and there are days when I wonder why I didn’t listen to them. Well, I listened, but I went another way.
Here I am on the verge of 25 and I often wonder what in the world I’m doing with my life, why I don’t have a career, and why I chose to attend an obscure mission school in Africa over the university I always thought I’d attend, and an unaccredited music school in Kansas City over another more prestigious school.
But then I remember what I gained from those choices and I don’t regret any of it for one second. I’m so glad I chose to go places and do things that made my heart come alive instead of what I was “supposed” to do because it was expected of me.
I got to dance on mountains overlooking oceans having conquered the fears I had of always floating through life and never really having a group of people around me that wouldn’t have to be scattered apart at the end of a few months.
I held children who were fighting against those exact fears themselves.
I shared a tiny bedroom with 5 other girls in a house with 14 people that had no air conditioning and was full of the same orange dirt we traipsed through every day as our bodies were dusted with the soil of Africa.
I spent 3 nights camping in a tent on a mountain using only my jacket as a pillow on the bumpy hard ground and had the best sleep of my life those nights – because I was right in the center of the Lord’s will for me.
I watched suffering people weep and held them as they broke – and it broke me.
I saw desperation and looked into the eyes of dying people so many times I almost forgot what hope looked like – and if I hadn’t been looking into the eyes of Hope as my strength, my heart would have fallen under the hopelessness.
I was filled with a compassion that I never could have mustered up on my own, and my heart was broken and mended and broken and mended over and over as my faith was tested, my physical strength emptied, my emotional needs strained, my heart torn in two so many times I lost count and finally had to surrender it into the only hands that were ever meant to truly hold and heal it.
I have walked through the hardest, most confusing, disappointing, dark season I have ever been through so far in my life, and I’ve come out of that season with greater trust, dependency, faith and hope than ever before.
I have been reminded time and time again that God’s faithfulness is not an empty promise – it never fails.
I have been shown over and over that when God says He will be faithful, He means it, and it’s truth.
But there has been so much joy on this path.
I chose this path as I approached a crossroads in my life because I have always been intrigued by the unknown. The adventure of it tugs on my heartstrings. I heard the voice of my Father calling me to come away onto this different road, and something in my heart was enthralled and exhilarated by the thought, terrified as I was on the inside.
I have heard it sung over me “Faithful, He’s always faithful” and sung it right back over and over until I see it with my own eyes. And every time, I have seen it.
At the end of each season where it feels like you’re in a dark tunnel that never ends – it’s always there, shining like the sun in all of it’s brilliance:
God is always faithful, and He never lies.
That breaking through of hope as you near the end of your journey through the wilderness – it gives the strength and courage to run toward that finish line with greater faith and endurance, and that courage shoots this faith-adrenaline right through your heart, and you feel it – you can do this. You can make it to the end.
I’m so glad I feel alive and free and that I’ve had so many experiences that have caused me to stretch, grow, and fly. They have – and are continuing to – mold my heart into the person I always dreamed of being and more importantly, the person I feel God has dreamed.
This is for anyone who is in that tough spot of trying to decide between society’s expectations of what you should do and who you should be, and what your heart was made for.
Always go with your heart.
The Lord has breathed dreams into each of us that He wants us to act upon and reach toward, so that He can accomplish His will through us. The good news is that it’s never too late to start activating those dreams. God is a great redeemer of wasted time and has done so for me with the time I wasted wavering while trying to make my decisions.
Sometimes it felt like a terrifying leap of faith to choose what I knew in my heart was the right direction but what everything else in me was fighting against. And ultimately that’s exactly what it was. But I finally came to the realization that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I chose the safe route, the plan where I knew exactly where I was going and what would happen, and where all my expectations were safe from disappointment because they were set so low there was no possibility they could be disappointed. I decided that I would rather feel the excitement of the unknown and be truly alive – and recognized later that with that choice would come many uncertainties, many disappointed expectations, and many wonderings why God had left me to sort the mess I had made of my seemingly wrong choices (which only seemed wrong because MY plan didn’t really work out)…
I leave you with these song lyrics, the ones that gave me that final push to say yes to what my heart was screaming at me but that I couldn’t barely hear for the loudness and pushiness of the other voices around me:
Come away with Me, come away
It’s never too late, it’s not too late for you
I have a plan for you, I have a plan
It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be full of Me
Listen to your heart’s desires, because they are there for a reason. Move in the direction of your dreams, take small steps as you see the big picture in your mind’s eye and watch the Lord do something great through your life as you walk out what you, specifically, have been called to.
It looks different for everyone, but whatever it is that makes your heart skip a beat when you think of doing it, go that way. That pulse of alive-ness that you feel, even for a split second, is telling you something.
Maybe that’s what you were made for.
May courage be released into all of us to live out our individual destinies and let God write stories with our lives that bear His signature and not our own.