Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my life. The question that keeps coming to the forefront is: what I want to do when I grow up?
It’s hard, right? How do we even think of sending our eighteen-year-old babies off to college when, after undergrad, law school, a bar exam, motherhood and nearly forty years of life I’m still wondering. Do you sometimes wonder too?
Perhaps you’ve noticed, it’s official that our new address is tammystrait.com – hooray! It’s also official that we’re beginning the early stages of creating a new and beautiful home for all of you here and I couldn’t be more pleased. But it’s also official that I’ve been swimming in a sea of where is my life going? thoughts. Right now I’m all over the map. In the last few months I helped craft several college admission and scholarship letters for cousins, nieces, nephews and friends, I blogged, I submitted a book proposal, taught weekly Bible studies, and dipped my toes back into the legal arena helping a family member in need. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Needless to say I’m a bit overwhelmed as I look around and ahead and wonder what am I doing? Where am I going? Can I even get wherever that is at this pace? I’m all over the place.
But whether I’m talking about my marriage, parenting, writing or any aspect of my future or dreams I can’t help but be reminded of the quote by Lao Tso: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Preparing for a women’s retreat I’m speaking at this weekend I thought back to an experience I had last fall. In the way only God can, He was teaching me all about the single step journey He asks us to take with Him.
I woke from a dream with an idea but it was so small. Tiny really. I reflected on it, obsessed over it really, wondering what it meant. What was I supposed to do with it? I knew there was a message in it, but all I could do was wait. I didn’t have any other good ideas. I didn’t even have any bad ideas; I had nothing. So I waited. Weeks went by and an off-hand comment from a friend planted another seed. I cultivated that seed in the best way I knew how and soon after that, something else grew. A month later, that tiny idea from a dream transformed over countless interactions and infusions from the people around me into a little love note from God not only for me, but for an entire community of women.
How does THAT happen?!
Certainly not by my effort. Definitely not by my great knowledge or figuring. I didn’t have the first clue what the dream meant at the start. Something beautiful happened simply because I paid attention. I paid attention to a tiny idea planted in my dream and, without any other idea what to do with it, I waited on God to nurture it – and teach me through small steps as it grew. Let me just say this: it is so much easier to give up. It’s so much more comfortable to say I don’t know what this means and toss it aside, than to continue to take a million small steps forward toward an unknown, immeasurable, uncertain goal.
I mean, sometimes it looks downright foolish. Our dreams don’t often make sense. Only our very best friends will support us when we do things that don’t make sense in this world. The truth is that most people will look down or away or keep some distance so that whatever crazy you’ve caught doesn’t jump off you and onto them. Right?! But there’s this yearning. This gnawing feeling inside that you were made for MORE. That your life is made for a purpose bigger than yourself. But what? And how? We look at other people’s lives and it looks so easy. Then we look at our own and it feels absolutely daunting.
Sometimes we look at other people’s lives and think: How did they get there? Without hesitation, we stammer out: I could never do that. But the reality is that every journey is made of a million small steps, a million unknowns and at least a million doubts, false starts, missteps and mistakes. Courage isn’t found in doing one big, great thing perfectly – but in the journey of a million small, uncertain, imperfect steps believing, no matter what trials, setbacks or stumbles come your way, that you will be better for the journey and God will use you for good.
I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up. All my babies will be in school next year and I’ll have a lot more time on my hands. Will I go back to work? Back to law? Write more? Teach? Right now I’m just not sure. Maybe the truth is that when we’re actively trusting God to guide our lives we never really know for sure. So today I’ll just take another small step – whatever one God sets before me – and know that it’s enough. And then tomorrow I’ll do the same. Because regardless of whether I ever reach some destination at the end, I’m going to believe that God will make me better for every step and use every bit of my success, failure or mixture of both for His purposes. Because no matter what we see, He uses all things for good.
Do you feel a bit lost in the midst of your great big life? Do you feel torn between your desires and the practical realities of a j.o.b.? Torn between the dream God placed in your heart for ministry and the real life one you have in your own backyard? Caught between all the many things you want to do, and the few that only you can do? Me too. So perhaps today we endeavor to find peace in the midst of our uncertainty, in the middle of all of the unknowns, and simply be grateful that God guides us through them. We find comfort knowing that through our small steps of obedience He draws us closer to Him, teaching us who He is and revealing who we are. Every day He simply asks us to pay attention. To pay attention to the people in our path, the tears that fall, and the tug at our heart; and that instead of focusing all our attention on the horizon, that we just tune in on the very next step. Just one step.
What small step might you take today?