We talk about quarter-life and mid-life crises, sometimes as a joke, other times to name our realities, but what do we do when we can’t name the shifts happening within us? How do we find our way through to the other side when we don’t know how to release the restlessness and tensions we feel inside, especially when we don’t know where we’ll end up when things settle down? The internal, invisible shake-up makes me feel like a snow globe in the curious hands of a toddler.
For much of my life, I subscribed to the narrative that to live out your calling with purpose you must find the one thing you’re good at, the one thing you’re passionate about, and you go after it with your whole heart. We’ve all been made with gifts and talents, so the advice was to dedicate our time, energy, and life to that one thing, and over the long haul, it would be called faithfulness.
For me, leadership has always been my thing. It’s a combination of natural gifting, childhood realities as a pastor/missionary’s kid, and my personality. I’ve mostly flexed this muscle in the church, leading ministries, small groups, and Bible studies. I’ve taught and led youth and college students, peers, and even adults older than me. People have long told me I was a wise, old soul, so it made sense that leadership was what I was made for. Even now, without any official ministry titles, it’s still the thing I do best.
I almost can’t help it. If I sense a need, I’m there to fill it. If people need guidance, I’m ready to give it. It’s an intuition I can’t shut off. But these days, I wonder if my strength is the very thing blocking me from growing deeper in my connection to God, others, and myself. Or put more honestly, I wonder if I’m using it to avoid connecting more intimately with God, others, and myself.
By default, I know how to be a leader and a helper. I know when to listen well and when to offer wisdom. I know how to envision a ministry, organize an event, and execute ideas. I know how to be a support and cheerleader for everyone around me. What I don’t know so much is who I am apart from what I can offer others. What joys do I experience if it’s not about helping people? What would I create if I created for fun and not only for the benefit of others? What more would I discover about the depth of friendship and community if I learned to be truly vulnerable so I could be known just as much as I seek to know others?
It would be easier and more comfortable to keep operating in my strengths and live on automatic drive. I think I would still live an impactful life if I did. But as I’m spending time sitting with God as Creator, the story of Creation is giving me a more expansive view of what life was intended to be from the beginning. In imagining it like a child, I see how impossibilities became realities – light from spoken word, physical bodies from dust and breath, every weird and amazing creature made from love. When I take off my grown-up reading glasses and enter into the story like a kid, it’s full of wonder and gasps and clapping with delight.
And in this season of shifts, God’s inviting me to be like a child, to discover what’s possible, and to become like Him in creating beauty, life, and goodness.
And if you, and not only I, said yes to the invitation to be like our Creator and create flourishing, joy, and delight in our little corners of the world, I’d like to believe that together we could hold open the curtain for the kingdom to come through. Perhaps, faith would flicker on in our weary, cynical hearts, and we’d believe again that impossible things can change, that callings and purposes can shift, and that it can all be good even still.
I don’t know exactly what saying yes to this invitation will look like for me, but for now, it means saying goodbye first. For the last five and a half years I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the (in)courage community and our writing team. I’ve loved working behind the scenes, editing my fellow contributors’ words, writing books with them, and creating a space for you, our readers, to feel seen and known. It has meant so much to me to witness God’s faithfulness in this space, and I’m ending my time here with deep gratitude.
So, may we all pay attention to the shifts within us. Perhaps God is inviting us to something more or different or new, and whether we whisper it quietly to ourselves or say it out loud for all to hear, I hope we can respond with our whole hearts, “Yes.”