Friday, August 22, 2008

When I Grow Up...

Was that a McDonald's commercial when we were kids that featured all the kids singing "When I grow up!" followed by the boy saying he wanted to be an astronaut or the girl wanting to be a ballerina? I think it was and I can remember my own dreams of such high achievements. One of our assignments in Mrs. Killackey's 6th grade homeroom class was to write an autobiography. We were instructed to elaborate upon who we were, what we were planning to do in junior high school, and what career we had set our hopes on. This was serious...I mean, I think I broke out in a sweat at the nervous thought of how important it was to discuss whether or not I was going to be popular and play the saxophone. I held my head high as I turned in the finished product after hours and days of pouring over this assignment - it was crucial that I get my achievements right and impress my favorite teacher. The rundown was that I was going to play saxophone in junior high school and make straight A's and have tame hair...yes, my ambitions were high. As an adult I was going to be a famous singer (a reasonable combination of Debbie Gibson, Bette Midler, and Reba McIntyre of course), the author of the most exquisite novels ever to grace the shelves of any bookstore, a Disney voiceover with the purpose of stealing the jobs of those women who had the speaking parts of Belle and Ariel, and let's not forget that I was going to have time to be a marine biologist. Are you kidding me? Where did I pull that one from?? I am baffled to this day as I wonder why I ever had the desire to squeeze in time with the fishies between all of the music gigs and signing autographs.

Now fast foward to today. Today is August 22, which means a number of things. For one, it means that one of the most influential couples in my life, two people who encouraged and led me all the way from early adolescence up until my wedding day just months ago, are celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary. I am more than blessed to know them, moved by God's grace in how He has so evidently used them as instruments in my life, and I wish them nothing but a sweet, reflective, joyful day as they celebrate this union the Lord orchestrated. As a married woman myself, I am so much more aware of why they said the things they did to me at an early age, why they cautioned me when I wanted to do anything but be patient, and because of that, I am all the more grateful for how God brought us into each other's lives.

On another note, today marks three years that I have been employed by the company where I work. I spent the first year feeling like an ignorant kid in an industry I knew nothing about, and now, three years later, I am considered the leader on my team. I am the one people come to with questions and the one responsible for any new training. If I stop and think about it for too long, I still feel like a kid wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up. On the bad days, the days when I'm in a crummy mood, I am most prone to questioning what in the world I am doing here. I look at my undergraduate degree and my current degree plan, and I wonder if I will ever actually be able to do what I want to do. My husband and I had what was perhaps one of the sweetest and most rich conversations a couple of nights ago that we have had in a long time. We started talking about where I am at in my current job, how I am enjoying it more than I ever expected, and also about where he is at in his seminary education. We talked about our dreams for the future, both individually and now together as a married couple walking through life together, and I realized that I hadn't dreamed big in a very long time. I look back on my first two years in Louisville and see how I dreamed less and less as the months passed by, and replaced the dreams with settling for how everyone around us defined the Christian life. I was often discouraged by the fact that I had awkward conversations with other women simply because I had a full-time job. Without even realizing it, I guess I had settled for not being in the mold, not being "normal," and had just stopped dreaming. My husband and I were talking about how we both started dreaming again after joining our church, and I couldn't help but take a deep, refreshing breath at such thoughts that had remained dormant for so long. When are our dreams for our lives actually impossible? I would have to say rare, and I say that because I think that we sometimes just stop dreaming altogether. Think of how many different circumstances--job, school, etc.--can create an atmosphere in which we shirk away from dreaming big. I fervently believe that the Lord has given us specific gifts for His glory and for us to utilize as we serve as instruments in the fields we are in. The people and responsibilities that we are inevitably going to be faced with are often further opportunities for us to serve and grow. For this particular season of my life, I am not in my "dream job," but that doesn't mean that it's not a place where I can mature and be used in completely unexpected ways as an instrument of truth and grace. This environment has proven to be a challenge I would have never anticipated, and one I would never want to change during this particular season of my life. Knowing the gifts I have been given, knowing that my ultimate calling is to glorify the Lord as a wife and hopefully as a mother some day, I can live each day knowing that I am where I am supposed to be. I won't be in this place forever, and the horizon is wide open as we look ahead. Dream big.


Ashley said...

Oh my ... where to begin?? ~

1) I am sitting here with tears running down my face (and I am NOT someone who cries easily!)

2) I love this post.

3) I love your blog.

4) I love how God speaks to me through your posts.

5) I love that God can (and will) use others to drive a point home.

6) When you write that book, I want an autographed copy. Please and thank you.

7) As I'm about to embark upon my last year of my undergrad schooling what the future holds and what the next step after graduation is has been weighing on me heavily. You've reminded me to Dream BIG! Thank you.

8) I smiled when you mentioned the length of time you spent working on your autobiography. In my Sign Language class last spring we had to write our lifestory (birth-death)and then sign it for the class. I totally freaked out on that assignment!! Writing my life story up til now was easy .. the rest wasn't. My professor, who also goes to church with me, couldn't believe that I was so stressed out about writing my life story. I told her that there were too many paths my life could take and I couldn't possibly pick one to sign. What she didn't know was that around that time God had been calling me to surrender EVERYTHING (every dream, every hope, every ambition, every plan of mine ...). I worked on writing that story for hours!!

9) Sorry for this EXTREMELY long comment. :)

BreAnna Fowler said...

Well put, friend. Love ya.

Colorado Dreamin' said...

Loved the post! Helped me greatly to read your words.

Panda-Mom said...

Thanks for the shout-out my little Grrrreek. Love you tons!!! When you find out what you wanna be when you grow up will you let me know and I might wanna join ya.

Amber said...

I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up either, girl. Maybe we should up and join the circus if we haven't figured it out by the time we're 50. HA!

On a more serious note, my heart rings with yours on this issue because of our recent failed attempt to move South. Isn't it wonderful to know that God is Sovereign and has even better plans for our lives than we can dream up?

Similarly, what Greg and I are learning is that maybe sometimes God allows our efforts at fulfilling what we thought were "big dreams" to fail so we can dream even "bigger", or rather, more in line with His perfect plan and will.

By so eloquently allowing me a glimpse of what is in your heart, I am touched and encouraged, dear friend.

jennypen said...

How on earth could I have forgotten that project? I'll have to hunt it down at Mom's, but I DO remember traveling to France with my dad. Where did you go for that one? What a neat teacher.

I love to read your posts and definitely think you should write a book. Your 'voice' is warm, encouraging, and very entertaining. Hey, maybe you should be the voice of the next Disney princess.