Walking the Line

I have a confession. When I was a kid, I wanted to be famous because I wanted others to think I was important. When I became a Christian, I wanted to be influential because I wanted to prove to myself that I was worthy. When I became a mother, I wanted to be inspirational because I wanted to show God that He could use me. The problem? It’s all about me.

It's the seemingly insignificant occurrences that often become defining moments in our lives. For me, such a moment happened in the lunchroom during the seventh grade. My best friend and I walked up to one of the lunch ladies to buy some ice cream. As we stood side by side, jingling our coins in our palms and debating over ice cream sandwiches or rocket pops, the lunch lady focused her attention on my friend.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look just like Christie Brinkley? You are gorgeous! You look just like a model.”

Upon hearing this, my heart quickened, my eyes widened, and I nervously waited to see if I would receive some type of praise as well. Will she tell me I’m pretty? Who do I look like? I want to look like a model! To my disappointment and despair, she simply exchanged my money for the frozen treat and gave me a brief, distracted smile. From that moment on, my goal was to be beautiful. I believed that if I could make myself beautiful, maybe I could become Somebody.

In high school, I strived to be involved in everything, subconsciously building my resume. Perhaps I was hoping that each bullet point and respective fact would add value to me as a person. I believed that if I was accomplished enough, I might become Somebody.

In college, shortly after becoming a Christian, I stayed busy plugging in to different organizations and ministries. Over time, the Lord began to show me I was placing my self-worth in worldly achievements and validation from people. My childhood desire to make a difference in the world to gain approval eventually evolved into a longing to change lives to bring glory and honor to God. At least I thought it had.

Deep down, I know that I am somebody. I am Wife of Scott, Mother of Carter, Daughter of the King. Many days, I am content to stand in those roles alone. Other days, I feel like I am called to do more. After all, contrary to what our culture dictates, life is not meant to make us happy, comfortable, and complacent. Our purpose is to serve the Lord in whatever capacity He wills. When I decide that I just want to be a wife and mom and not bother with any of my other dreams or goals, I think I am running from the fear of responsibility and sacrifice. I even fear that my dreams of a writing and speaking ministry will come to fruition...but at the expense of time with my family. I also fear that my longing for approval and fear of rejection will overcome me. That the praises of people will continue to be my driving force.

Beth Moore has said that our desire to be great could be our biggest hindrance to greatness. Subsequently, I have often had the thought that God can’t possibly use me in “big” ways because of my desire to be Somebody. I like to think that my ambition to be known has been transformed into a passion to make God known. But there is such a delicate line, and I don’t always know which side of it I am on.

You always hear stories of God using someone for a job that they didn’t want. For example, years ago, the woman who disciples me prayed that God would use her to do anything except teach. A few weeks later, He used circumstances and people to place her in a position to teach over 20 women. And she has taught and discipled many individuals since then.

Could it be that God will be most proud of me, that I will have reached my highest potential on earth, when I obey Him through an action with eternal relevance and significance of which I will never know the impact?

One thing I do know... I will be most effective in ministry when it’s no longer about what I can do but about what God can do. I just don’t know how to get there. I know in my head...but if only my heart and will would follow. I find myself embarrassed, disappointed, and appalled at my preoccupation with myself. And as soon as I think I have clothed myself in humility, I am back where I began. In my obsession with self, I forget that I can’t make that transformation without the Lord’s help.

Every day brings that internal struggle between pride and humility, between vain ambition and a servant’s heart, between a desire to be great and a longing to do great work for God. It’s there I find myself walking the line. Thank goodness Somebody is walking there with me.

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B-Mama said...

Kelley, what a beautiful post! I loved reading this reflection and relating to your words as a wife, mother, daughter of God, and ultimately, talented woman who has a lot to give back to the world! What a struggle it is for all of us to find the balance and see where God wants to use us best... and how to make the journey, above all, about Him. A tough mission!!

I have been a blog fan of yours for some time now--Jen Cann. pointed me in your direction. She is a dear college running buddy of mine and I'm sure you and I have met at some point in my visits with her and folks from her past! Thanks for sharing your heart and life via the blog--it is great!

Blessings to you as you continue on this journey.

Anna said...

This post really touched me! You ARE so beautiful, and that lunch lady would be eating her own hair net if she saw you now!
I think we all deal with this, and you are the one who is brave enough to speak up and admit it!
Love you!

Kristy said...

I love this post, Kel. So thought-provoking and well-written. I think many people can identify in your words and feelings.

Yesterday, our youth ministers presented a lesson on the "American Idol" {our summer series} of "Vanity Fair" and the ideas of self image. It was one of those sermons that just cut to the heart. I struggle with the balance and conflict of wanting to and believing that God has equipped me to "do great things" and the feeling of being stuck on the second-class tier of women.

It's such a paradoxical feeling that seems so difficult to resolve. Our youth ministers focused on the Genesis verses, when God says to Adam and Eve, "Who told you that you were naked?" I had always assumed that God spoke those words angrily at his creation--frustrated that the goodness He had provided for them was not enough, but yesterday, I read them as God hurting over his creation's shame, almost crying out like a parent to a child in sadness, "Who told you that you weren't smart enough, pretty enough, worth enough?"

I love that God is in the business of recreating us--gently, sometimes forcefully--reminding us that our identity is in HIS image, and that is ALWAYS good enough.

Sorry for my long-winded post. I just resonated with your words. :)

JJ said...

Kelley - great post. I know you hit home with me and I would guess the majority of believers! I think this would be something we are always trying to balance as Christians and will be perfected in eternity! Thanks for sharing your heart.