The news scrolled across my newsfeed like a flashing theater marquee. Three friends from high school were being honored with our high school’s young alumnus award. Instantly, my stomach dropped out from its rightful place in my abdomen, where a gnawing pit replaced it. Jay, Chris, and Megan were being honored for 15 years of service in youth ministry. Flooded with a wide range of emotions, I began to process what I was feeling.
As a friend, I was proud of them; knowing some of their stories, I was grateful for God’s grace and redemptive power; scrolling through my newsfeed on an average Tuesday afternoon, I was surprised to see this huge honor bestowed; reflecting on my own life over the last 15 years, I was pensive; and being totally honest, I was jealous.
Jealousy. The ugly green monster. The thing we try not to feel, not only because we know it’s wrong, but also because it feels so yucky inside. As I wrestled with my baser emotions, I couldn’t help but feel disillusioned and hurt.
- At one time, it seemed our lives were on a similar course. Feeling called to the ministry, the four of us had gone to the same Bible college. We went to the same chapel services, took the same classes, and had a passion to reach young people for Jesus. Upon graduation, our lives took different turns. They headed home to pursue youth ministry, while I took a job as an admissions counselor. They married other ministry majors, while I married a businessman. They moved home to Michigan close to their families, while I moved to a small town, further away from mine. They began rockin’ their ministries, while I began rockin’ babies. Their days and nights were filled with mentoring and talks of significance with young people, guiding and shaping them at pivotal points in their lives. My days were filled with diapers and wiping syrup from tiny faces, my sock occasionally sticking to the floor where said syrup had invisibly landed. My world was less than glamorous and sadly lacking in ways to tangibly measure success. I had always wanted to stay at home with my kids, but reality was different than what I had imagined and, although I had always firmly believed it was one of the most important things a woman could do, I vastly underestimated how insignificant it could feel.
Raised on Disney heroines, and as a member of a generation where speakers at church camp inspired us to become world-changers, my sights for the impact I would make as an adult were set pretty high. After all, world-changers went into full-time ministry and became camp speakers who would then inspire the next generation to do the same, right?
Although being an admissions counselor had been a dream job for years, I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing the mark. Intellectually, I knew that world-changers came in all shapes, sizes, callings, and vocations, but I couldn’t shake the underlying angst that I wasn’t measuring up. While I (mostly) successfully pushed aside that angst as I built my life as a wife, homeschooling mom, MOPS coordinator, and church volunteer, somewhere beneath the busyness, the question remained: “Am I where I’m supposed to be?” As I scrolled through Facebook that day, all that underlying angst emerged.
I felt like I had followed the Lord each step of my life, but my reality wasn’t lining up with the obscure vision of what I thought I should be doing. “Lord, I wanted to make an impact. It seems all I do is wipe bottoms, make meals, and fold laundry. No one goes around handing out awards for that.” Not that I literally wanted an award, but I was thirsty for a tangible symbol that my work was meaningful.
A few weeks later, I was studying ecosystems with my kids. I marveled at how God created each animal with a unique role to fulfill in perfectly orchestrated systems. If there are too many of one species and not enough of another, it wreaks havoc everywhere. As I reflected on how vital every link in the chain is to maintaining equilibrium for all, I thought about how unaware the hawk is of his importance. He’s not swooping down, eating snakes, thinking of how important his action is in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. He’s simply doing what God created him to do.
Then it struck me that perhaps the same is true for us. Could it be that in God’s infinite wisdom, he designed us each for a role, the significance of which we can’t possible fathom? Could it be that by simply doing what God created us to do, we are fulfilling our part in a much grander plan? That by worshiping him in our daily lives, through the tasks in front of us here and now, we are, in fact, living out our destiny?
How are you living out your destiny in ways perhaps you don’t realize? He sees you, you know.
You – as you read the Bible to your children.
You – as you show grace when your child blows it.
You – as you show kindness to your grumpy husband after a long day at work.
You – as you serve the toddlers in the nursery.
You – as you bring a meal to a sick friend.
You – as you pray for lost loved ones.
You – as you greet a lonely face at Bible study.
You – as you sacrifice for new basketball shoes for your little athlete.
Every prayer, every tear, every moment of frustration, every triumph, every defeat, every summoning of self-control, and every single simple act that feels like it amounts to nothing are all seen by our Creator and Judge. He does not judge significance as the world does. In his economy, the first will be last and the last will be first. In his economy, whoever wants to be great must first be the servant of all. In his economy, the secret things will be rewarded.
Rewarded? Oh yeah, there is an awards ceremony coming. At the end of your life, the Lord himself will repay you according to what you have done. Every hidden deed no one but God saw will be brought to light as he bestows your heavenly reward. May you remember that eternal perspective as you go about your tasks, even the most mundane, so that at the end of your life you may finally understand your true significance in his kingdom.
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.
So the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages