Thursday, September 22, 2011
Aidan and I approached the checkout counter. While the checker unloaded my groceries, he lowered his voice a bit and leaned forward, confidential like. "So . . . are you glad the kids are back in school?" (This accompanied with The Knowing Glance that tends to come with such a question.)
I hesitated. "Actually, we homeschool." Then I added, "So, yes. I am glad." Smile.
He thought it prudent to switch gears. "Oh, that's . . . oh . . . so, were you a teacher before you had kids?"
"No, an English major . . . " I started to explain, apologetically.
"Well, that's sort of close. Do you write books?"
"Well, no. I have written a few articles . . . ." I somehow felt the need to defend myself. (Oh, hello, pride.)
The conversation continued in this fashion as he s.l.o.w.l.y. rang up my items. And I somehow got the impression that in order for one to claim a profession ("I teach my children" or "I pursued English in college") this must mean that I had attained a certain status or reached obvious goals (certified teacher, published author).
But the truth is, I am a teacher. I am a writer. And I don't need a certificate or a diploma or a paycheck to prove it. I pursue these things, I enjoy them, I feel that the Lord is blessing them, and I claim them as my own. That's it.
My guess is that many of us would like to claim to be something. A singer. A dancer. A writer. An actor. But we feel like we can't really say it out loud because the world hasn't made it official. We're not paid to do it. We don't walk into a room and have people point and say, "Oh, look! There's that artist!" So we apologetically say, "I'm a mom. And sometimes I like to . . . paint?" Blush. Stammer.
Last night I snuggled on the couch with my Bethie-girl as we read a chapter from Beautiful Girlhood. We read about the dreams that a girl has as she stands on the shore with a bright future stretched out before her. Her bare feet wriggle in the sand, her long hair dances on the breeze. She shields her eyes from the bright sun with a delicate hand and looks forward.
She dreams of love, she dreams of a family, she dreams of a having a purpose.
I remember standing on that shore many years ago. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be Jamie Lawson's wife. (I had some very specific goals.)
Many of my girlhood dreams have come true. (But not the one that involves a silver dress, a stage, and a microphone. Or the one where I appear in The Brady Bunch. Rats.)
They've come true not because anyone is paying me or giving me a title. But because I have claimed them as my own. I have embraced the pursuits that bring me joy and those which I feel bring glory to God.
I know that you, dear reader, have dreams, too. You have interests and talents that the Lord delights to see in you. They have been breathed into your being for a purpose. First and foremost, that purpose is to bring glory to God.
I think of Eric Liddell's classic line from Chariot's of Fire: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."
When your goal is to bring glory to God, there's no need to apologize.
So put yourself on that shore once again. Look forward and let yourself dream for a minute. What do you see? What brings you joy? When is it that you truly feel the Lord's pleasure?
Now, keep your eyes fixed right there. Keep a firm grasp on the Lord's hand, and go for it.