I will venture to guess that you are a modern person, just like me.
We feel that we know an awful lot about things – about the way the world works, about the realities of life. You’ve likely had a least enough exposure to economics to internalize the scarcity concept that permeates our cultural mindset: if you have something it means there is someone else going without – or perhaps more commonly in our minds we think that when someone else has something it means that we have to go without.
I run across people all the time who have this mindset about talents and careers. They look at other people playing important roles in ministry, art, business, and culture and they think, “Well, the world’s already got them – why would it need me?”
There is a certain prideful self-pity in this mindset, because I see God playing a role in other people’s lives but stubbornly contend that “I alone” am outside God’s plan. He has no use for me (which is a kind of horrible special). And then the people telling us the contrary are exactly the people we feel usurped by in the first place (well of course they can say that!) and so the inspirational can get twisted into the condemning and the cycle perpetuates.
This is me. This is me. all. the. time.
To people on the outside it may look like I am confident in God’s plan for my life and that I am secure in my role in it. I run a business after all. I quit a lot of things to be here doing this right now. I write posts like this. But the truth is that I am not secure in anything except my insecurity.
It is safe to feel that way. It is comfortable. In looking at great women doing amazing things like Abby Johnson, Emily Wilson, Haley Stewart, and Leah Darrow there is that surface hurting pride, but underneath I think there is a kind of relief.
Oh good. There are people doing this stuff. I am all hurt and stuff that it’s not me out there being already successful (cause that’s the part I’m interested in – the growing not so much) but if I search my heart I see that there was a part of me that was glad it looked that wasn’t something I’m supposed to do.
Those women put themselves out there. It takes enormous courage to do what they do. It takes enormous trust in God. Do I want that part of it too?
Three years – even two years ago – I didn’t. Ultimately it felt nice to hide in self-pity and avoid the call to trust God more. But God has constantly and persistently worked on my heart. He has given me a gift of greater faith, that has led me to desire greater trust.
So now I do it scared. If I am the one in the driver seat I still look at these and other women and think that I am homeless in a world that already has them. But when I let God drive, I see that their calling and my calling are equally important to God. I may never be called to do the big things that they do, but their calling in no way impacts what I should do with my life.
It’s not one big pie divided up amongst everyone alive at a certain moment, and one person’s big slice chops into mine.
God wants to give you your own pie.
There is a huge problem with applying economic principles to God, mostly because economics is somewhat predictable (in a vacuum, which is where the theory happens) and God isn’t. In God, there is always enough. He always has more, waiting to be poured out in us on to infinity. You literally cannot empty the storehouses of God.
God desires for you to be whole. He desires for me to be whole. He desires all those big names to be whole. And He has a plan that will accomplish that with your life if you cooperate with Him in that – whether thousands of people see you do it or not.
We see saints in both camps. There are leader saints – Popes, Joan of Arc, Saint Louis IX – and quiet saints living out their (often short, it seems) days in obscurity and piety like St. Therese.
The remarkable thing about the saints is how different they are from each other, and nothing should give us so great a hope in the uniqueness and adventure our own story holds as hearing their stories.
Because what is a saint? Just a person who allows themselves to belong totally to God.
You can do that.
You can become a Saint.
And guess what?
It doesn’t mean joining a cloistered order and chopping off all your hair.
It means being the person God created you to be – whoever that is. Hairdresser, police officer, receptionist, blogger. There are a lot of new professions out there needing patrons – you just might fit the bill someday.
We don’t know what God has planned for us, but we do know there is a plan we can cooperate with should we decide to. And regardless of what anyone else is doing, fulfilling that plan will bring us a joy and a wholeness that nothing else could.
It is very timely that shortly before I wrote this post I came across this beautiful and challenging prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I will leave it with you here to pray with as you see fit, but I believe that daily repetition of this prayer would be a game changer. I have also created a beautiful printable version that is for sale in my shop should you want to make it a beautiful part of your daily routine.
What I love about this prayer is that it helps me to let go. I lose the illusion that I am in control, that anything belongs to me, and that I am the captain of my fate. God is a much better driver than I, and this helps me to remember to let Him.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.