"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." Mark Twain
I was 20 years old living in New Haven, Connecticut (participating in Youth With a Mission) with the weight of the world on my shoulders and I had the migraines to prove it. I sat in my 8 by 10 room on the third floor of the community house on Orange Street and wrote these words on velum paper, "There is agony in the word destiny, a lament over the possibility of purpose." Behind the words I penciled a portrait of the only pensive model I could find, Amy Grant (don't laugh). My evangelical upbringing meant that I had something to fix, something to save and I just had to figure out how I would do that. In other words, my calling was behind "DOOR NUMBER _____?" I just needed the key to unlock the mystery. I needed the external supernatural to name my future so that I could skip the process (getting to know myself) and just get to the product (having a mission on earth). Not easy. The Savior complex was handed down to me with good intentions (raised in the church by very Godly parents) but pedestal living was catching up with me, it was exhausting. A week before I moved out east my college roommate, a newlywed, was killed in a car accident. Mortality was staring me in the face and instead of feeling more free to live, I felt more pressure to make something of my time. I'm a first born, can you tell?
My brother is the middle child. It's a good position to have in any family. He married a southern girl, a classic bell with graces you can't teach a Northerner. She is so classy she wouldn't do what I'm about to #humblebrag. Just this week she hit 15k followers on Instagram. Even Instagram itself started to follow her. (I'm excited, can you tell?)
That 20 year old in New Haven would have been filled with jealousy and angst as I watched someone surpass me in key finding and the door knocking search of "calling". No, I haven't found mine yet and thank God there wasn't social media then. The 33 year old living in Traverse City felt something peculiar instead (I surprised myself). I felt excited for every ounce of attention Chelsea deserves for her talent and then I felt something else. It came like the cool breeze on a summer evening as the sunset disappears beyond the Lake Michigan horizon, I felt a sweet surrender to be (drumroll please) ME!
The teachings in New Haven started to come back to me, "Know where you begin and where you end." In other words, you aren't IT and you can't have IT ALL (so anti-American culture). You begin and you end, so does the next person in line. What a relief, a sweet surrender. I don't have to do it all, I wasn't designed to and neither were you. My vocation, or "voice in society" (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak) isn't to save the world, it's to be me. This has been a long and painful realization over the last decade as a Recovering Evangelical (book coming soon enough).
To quote the B-I-B-L-E
"So forget about making big plans for yourself." - Jeremiah 45:5
"Humble yourself before the Lord and in due time he will lift you up." -James 4:10
Go. Be you. The best you you know how to be. It's the greatest gift you could offer this world of copycats and impostors.