Be All that You Can Be

If there is one thing my generation has heard over and over again, it’s that we need to “reach for the stars.” Anything is possible for us, and “we need to be all that we can be.” Born to the mega generation of Baby Boomers, our parents made the effort from the early days in our cribs to make sure we knew that we could achieve big things in life.  Being a primarily “working class” generation, many of our parents started setting aside college funds before they even began setting aside money for their 401ks. They wanted big things for us, and they worked hard to do their part in setting us up for success. 

I can still remember my 5th grade graduation party.  A local newscaster came and gave us our classic “you can do anything” speech.  We all felt so privileged because not only was this pretty broadcaster giving us the speech, but also throughout it, she reminded us, no less than a dozen times, that we were “the” graduating class.  We were going to graduate high school in the year 2000, and that somehow made us even more special than any class before us or after us. 

I am reluctant to admit that I sucked up every one of those motivational speeches like they were each meant for me and me alone.  I believed every single time my parents told me that I was special and unique and that I was going to do big things in this world. 

In the deepest crevices of my heart, I believed that I was going to do something extraordinary in this life.  My name may be ordinary but I sure wasn’t going to be!

And that is what I was constantly on a mission to do.

Somehow, though, along the way, I equated doing something extraordinary with being extraordinary.  And the only way I was possibly ever going to BE extraordinary was to either be the very best at something or do something no one else had done before me.

I certainly didn’t feel like I was the prettiest so that was out of the running (Refer to Baring It All to read more about that journey).  I played both softball and basketball competitively from an early age, but once I got to high school, I realized that while I had talent, I was never going to be the best at that either.  I was active in theater but I couldn’t sing and my acting abilities were sub-par at best, so I wasn’t going to be any kind of star there.  I graduated with a perfect 4.0 from high school but once I got to college I realized that while I probably had above-average intelligence, I certainly wasn’t the smartest girl in my school let alone in any one of my given classes even.  I am embarrassed to admit that I even tried desperately to be in the “in” group of Christians…the ones leading all the chapels and discipleship groups.  I thought surely I could be of use there.  But, I always found myself on the sidelines.

Once I graduated from college and moved to Guatemala, deep down I thought I maybe had found that one elusive thing that would make me extraordinary finally…I was going to make a difference in this world and “save” the lives of these poor, orphaned children.

While this most certainly wasn’t the reason I moved to Guatemala, I am ashamed to admit that there was a part of me that wanted to believe this would make me special. 

Unfortunately as with everything else, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t any kind of superstar “missionary.”  I struggled with the language (and still do at times).  I often times felt weary and didn’t spend regular time in prayer and fellowship with the Lord.  I am WAY more introverted than I ever realized so I get stressed after a long day with people and there are weeks every now and again that I sometimes don’t even want to leave my house. 

My job most often consists of administrative work, and while I am organized and like administrative stuff to a certain extent, it’s not like I am overwhelmed with passion for it.

Over the years, I stood back and watched as some of my other co-laborers here in Guatemala were achieving incredible, almost impossible feats, and I was and am utterly amazed by what they have done and continue to do.  I have one friend that is on the front lines of getting international and national laws changed on behalf of children and their families.  Another friend works daily with families whose children have been removed from their homes and helps them take steps towards restoration and reconciliation.    Others are working with the terminally ill and providing comfort for children in their last hours on earth.

I watch these folks, and I stand there with my mouth open. I feel proud to call them friends.

But, I want to tell you something honestly.

As the years have gone by, I have felt like a failure too.  I have believed the lies that say I am not enough and what I contribute daily is so incredibly insignificant.  Added to these lies, I have watched as my generation has now lifted up bible teachers and writers and even bloggers to new heights.  We say we don’t adore them or even worship them, but we certainly at times use them as our bar for measuring our own successes.

Deep in my heart my 2 greatest dreams for my life were to write and to teach.  And as I used others’ success as my measuring stick, I came up short every single time.

My own self-absorption coupled with years of being told that “anything was possible” and that I had “to be the best I could be” turned me into a woman who constantly believed she wasn’t enough and hadn’t achieved enough.  Sure I had mostly overcome the battle of believing my worth was found in my physical appearance, but really as I stood back examining my life up close, I realized that I just replaced that battle with a new one. I believed that my value, my worth, and my purpose even was found and measured by how much I had accomplished and how “extraordinary” my life was. 

I saw others doing mighty, big, amazing, life-altering things, and while I did applaud them and cheer them on, I also allowed the enemy to use these things to twist my own thinking.  My life suddenly seemed too small.  My contributions were way too insignificant. 

It’s maddening really.

And it makes me angry.

I feel furor inside that I let the enemy poison me with these lies.

Our parents didn’t work themselves ill so that we could just pout and sit on the sidelines saying, “Poor me.  I am not enough.  My life isn’t enough.” 

That’s ridiculous.  While I don’t think they believed our worth was found in what we accomplished, they did believe that we should have every opportunity to dream.  They did push us to think outside of the box and to want more than maybe they even wanted for themselves.  And we dishonor their efforts every time we say that the life we are living isn’t enough.

Let me tell you something friend.  You are enough because God says you are.  He made you.  He created you. He loves you.  Your life is enough because He gave you life. 

I believe in a BIG, MIGHTY God that calls us over and over to put our feet into the Jordan River and trust that He will part the waters.  I believe that He can and does use us to do impossible things for Him and His Kingdom.

But I refuse to believe that He uses the same measuring stick that we use with ourselves and with one another. 

He wants our OBEDIENCE. He wants our hearts.  He wants to be enough for us.

My life is extraordinary because an extraordinary God lavishly loves me. 

And I am extraordinary because that extraordinary God has called me and set me apart for His kingdom and for His purposes. 

It has to stop.  All of this comparing. All of this measuring.  All of this stuff that says we aren’t enough.

Do not give into that lie one more moment of one more day.  Because every time you do, you waste that moment.  You waste it. 

There are real people out there in this world with real hurts that need someone that is willing to forgo the platform and willing to wash their feet.  This world doesn’t need more microphones; it needs more dirty hands.  It needs folks that no longer care if they are remembered or if they were even extraordinary.  It needs people that will stop looking for the spotlight and start looking for ways to be a good neighbor and friend. 

God won’t love you more because you did something bigger or better than everyone else.  There isn’t some sort of prize for the biggest stage.

He just wants us to be all in wherever we are and whatever He asks of us today, tomorrow, and every day that He decides to give us breath after that.

And lastly, I want to leave you with this one little nugget…

We are all meant for fellowship and community.  God wired us to need one another.  You won’t find community under the heat of a spotlight.  You will find it at your dinner table.  You will find it sitting in your lawn chairs with your neighbors in front of your house.  You will find it cleaning up a scrap and kissing an ouchie.  You will find it when you decide that your life is enough because God gave it to you.

Let’s let loving each other well be what makes us extraordinary and enough for once.


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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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