God is coming to change some of the ways I view this world, this life, these things that simply are. And as He does, I am finding it most difficult to figure out what to do with the leftovers.
That is, when I find what He’s not calling me to, what He’s never created me to be, I’m still left wrestling with what He is saying.
He has not created me to win any popularity contests. Ever. Of this, I am fairly certain by now because my life has been a testimony to that. That’s just fine with me. I’m not the kind of girl to get caught up in trying to be homecoming queen. But then I wonder why, knowing I’d never win the most votes, He made me so magnetic. There is something deep, drawing, and mysterious in me that can suck you in if you’re not careful, and I realize this about myself.
He has not endowed me with the ferocity of the lion. Even though I’ve too often found myself overly aggressive, it’s never worked out to my advantage (and it clashes so dramatically with my heart that I cannot ignore it; it is unholy). Not that readily comes to mind, anyway. That’s why I’m not going to land a job in sales any time soon. Knocking door-to-door for school fundraisers, I always ended up buying myself out. That overwhelming hunger to win at all costs, to cut corners, to bend the truth for the victory, is not part of my DNA. Pursue, stalk, kill…it’s not in me. But instead of that killer instinct, He granted me tenacity. A spirit that never gives up, that slowly but surely pushes its way forward and refuses to be deterred by the mud or the muck or the obstacles in the way.
He didn’t make me bubbly or exuberant; you’ll never see me skipping down the road or holding an impromptu pep rally. I’m not the fan screaming in the stands. Yet I am deeply passionate and certainly keep a tender flame kindled in my spirit.
He hasn’t given me the loudest voice, the one that carries on the wind as it bellows over the uproar. But He lets me create my own noise disturbance by having a voice that stills others, that silences them without force but with gentle words, insight, and wisdom (though with these last two, the more you gain, the less you feel like you have).
He didn’t ripple my body with muscle. I am not a heavy lifter. But He’s given me a kind of quiet strength that stands even against the wind.
He isn’t overflowing my life with energy, enabling me to be one of those superwomen of God who goes and goes and does and goes more. But He’s made me faithful and given more than enough to serve well where I can.
It seems, in all honesty, that some of these things are the ones I most seek, the ones I think will somehow define my life in a better way. Who doesn’t want to be homecoming queen at least once in her life, to have the popular vote behind her? Who doesn’t want to be vicious and ferocious at times, taking what she wants instead of waiting to be blessed by it? Who doesn’t want to be bubbly or skip down the street? That kind of girl is the life of the party! Who doesn’t want the loudest voice, a voice that lets them scream over everything, “Would ya’ll be quiet for just a minute!?” then whisper a quiet “thank you.” Who doesn’t want muscles and strength to move mountains out of the way by force instead of faith? Force certainly makes some things a whole lot easier. Who doesn’t want the energy to go and never stop, never need rest, but always be serving?
I’m not saying these are bad things to want, and I admit to wanting them at times myself. But for me, they are the wrong things to want. They are good, holy things in those God has given them to. He just hasn’t given them to me. And it can be really hard to overcome this urge to go out and get them anyway, to build or foster them in my life in place of feeling broken or somehow defective.
Because sometimes, it seems that the people who have what you don’t are the ones making the waves in the world. Where is your wave? My wave. I do not want to die only to have the world say, “Good for her. She led a peaceful life and never made a ripple.” How horrible!
But these things – these non-gifts that I so actively seek – can become consuming if I focus on them too long. Like a child on the candy aisle, I am susceptible to throwing a hissy fit or a temper tantrum when I’m trying so hard but still not what seems to be working for everyone else.
Those things will never work for me. In part, that is why I’ve undertaken this particular writing, and I would encourage you to do so, as well. When our heart seeks something like this, something that could be good and valuable and honorable and even edifying, and we continue to fall short, it’s easy to feel empty or worthless or dumb. We run messages in our heads, negative messages that say, “I’ll never be popular. I’ll never have friends. I’ll never command a crowd’s attention; my voice isn’t loud enough. I’ll never be strong…or endless…or bubbly…” or whatever it is we’ve been striving after.
That much is true. We may never be those things. But that does not leave us hollow, empty, God-forsaken shells that are left for dead or completely useless. When I sat down and took away all the things I was trying to be that God never made me, what I ended up with was a lot of leftovers. Those leftovers ARE who He created in me, finally revealed from behind the mask of the fake.
And with leftovers like these – magnetism, charisma, tenacity, passion, a stilling voice, strength, faithfulness, diligence, and service – what more could a girl ask for?
(As of the end of this writing, I no longer view these traits as leftovers. They are the gifts, blessings, and endowments of my Lord that enable me to serve Him in the way He is calling me, that give me beauty, and that make my heart dance with joy.)