Posted tagged ‘goals’

What kind of shoe are you?

June 5, 2012

Okay, you can say it.  This girl is weird.

Who on earth would want to be a shoe?

Actually, this post is about putting our purpose into shoe leather.  So those of you who read the title and immediately started picturing what cute kind of shoe you’d like to be, focus.  I’m talking serious big-kid stuff here.

I was considering that age-old question the other day: What is my purpose?

Answers to this abound, many of them lies.  I won’t go into most of those.  Most of them completely miss the point, or are simplistic, like the Sunday School answer – to do good.  Or the spiritualistic answer – to glorify God.  If you give these answers to a true seeker, however, he’ll be disappointed.  And so am I.  These answers lack direction.  I want to know what good to do, how to glorify my God.

So, I had to dig deeper and ask what does glorifying God look like in shoe leather?  How on earth do we get that rubber to meet the road?  Can we draw a blueprint or a road map for how to get to that position?

Here are the answers I’ve been working on.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact blueprint.  Because every person is different, because He made us each with different talents, every person will glorify Him differently.  Because every person will glorify Him differently, there is and can be no detailed blueprint for us to follow as we build the houses (temples – 1 Cor. 3:16) He delights to dwell in.

Instead, He has given us The Way.

In following the footsteps of Jesus, who is the Way (the Truth, and the Life), and the leading of the Spirit, we find our path lit by His Word, and we are blessed in glorifying our Father.  Yeah, I know, I’m still not being concrete.  Let me tell you, being concrete is pretty easy for me to do in reality, but not an easy thing for me to describe in words (Sister is the writer, remember!).  But let me keep trying, and we’ll see if by the end of the discussion I can’t give you something concrete to work with.  (Granted, I don’t know who would want to wear concrete shoes, but . . . )

Okay, let’s try the shoe on for size.  Suppose we are like the leather in a shoe (or boot, if you like).  We start out as limp, helpless leather, unable to fathom how on earth we’re going to get in the right shape.  God, as the master cobbler, cuts out the 2D shape that he wants (and that can be a painful process as He gets rid of baggage that we don’t need which would only mar the shoe in the end).   Then He uses His tools to shape us, and to sew all the pieces in the right positions to create a beautiful shoe.

Don’t you love it when a project comes together?  And when we start putting the pieces together that make up the different parts of our lives, realizing that we can’t compartmentalize Jesus because He belongs in all parts, I think God is pleased in seeing His “project” come together.

Still want to know what it will look like?  Well, since He doesn’t ever make two identical shoes (although He does make them in pairs sometimes), we won’t know until He finishes with us what we’re going to look like.  Still, we have many saints/shoes to look to for ideas on the kinds of shoes He has made before.

I’m probably not getting any warmer in my search for a concrete image for you.  But there seems to be a reason for that.  As I see it, the key concept to this process is Faith.  Everything keeps coming back to faith in Jesus.  And since faith is an abstract kind of concept, we should not be surprised that the concrete is difficult to come by.

We must believe that although we do not know our shoe type, He does, and we know He can turn out a good shoe.  Of course, we also have to stay out of his way.  Our part is to listen while He works in us.  At some point, somewhere along The Way, we will probably become aware of the kind of shoe we are becoming.  But probably not until we have learned lessons about not rushing ahead when we aren’t ready yet.  You know how ready we are to jump to conclusions when we think we know how a story is going to end, so I’m not surprised that God doesn’t show us more than a few steps of the path lest we be tempted to take shortcuts.  Imagine trying to walk in a shoe that hadn’t been stitched together yet!  Or trying to run in one that didn’t have any laces yet!  We run into problems when we impatiently push forward instead of waiting till He leads us in The Way.

When we look to Him in faith and hope, I think that’s when He can show us what is next.  Not that He is unable to show us before that, but more that we are too distracted to see it.  I think sometimes we get too focused on where we are, instead of looking at Him and who He is.  If we look to Him, and do the next thing He hands us to do, then we won’t have to worry about our futures, and we won’t get bogged down in figuring out where we are going.

Maybe you’re one of those who’d like to have a long-range goal to work toward.  Sometimes God will give us a dream that we can work for, but other times we have to work a little harder.  If you don’t have a dream, you can always ask Him for one, but then try looking at the little things He has given you to do lately, and see if there isn’t a pattern.  Do you like to share His story?  Do you enjoy spending time with little ones?  Maybe you’re a writer and He has used you to brighten people’s day with a poem.  Perhaps He has given you a green thumb and you can bless people with the flowers He made.  I don’t think you’ll have a hard time once you start looking for the vision He has for your life in Him.

Like I said, I’m better at living this concept than writing about it, although I sometimes have trouble with that aspect as well.  I am one to whom He gave a dream very early on, but who has sometimes struggled to see the next step along The Way.  But our God is faithful; He knew all along just where the next step was in my climb.  And He knows yours too.

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Commenting

October 5, 2011

Timothy over at Genius Inc. wrote a post about commenting that sparked my interest.  He’s right that bloggers love to get comments on their posts, but that it’s also hard to write good comments on others’ posts.  I’ve actually been seeing a jump in comment traffic on my own blog, (which is great by the way, thanks for the encouragement everybody) and now Timothy’s post has encouraged me to pass this on to others.

I’ve been trying to make a habit of commenting when I read a post I really like, if only to tell the writer what part really spoke to me and why.  Even short little comments can be indicative that a person has really been affected by the post, so I’m not going to worry about length.

Nor am I going to adopt Timothy’s goals exactly.  He hopes to comment at least 29 times on 10 different blogs this month.  I don’t follow quite that many blogs on a regular basis, so I’m going to make my goal 30 comments on as many different posts as I can.

What about you?  Will you join me in blessing your favorite bloggers?

Note: I don’t have to be one of them!

When I grow up, I want to be…

January 31, 2011

I often wondered as a child just what I would be when I grew up.  I had plenty of grandiose ideas, plans, and air castles, but I knew that none of them would come true unless that’s what God wanted for me.  During the last years of homeschooling, I became a little more insistent on knowing what God wanted me to do, because I was trying to plan what to do about college and a job.  By highschool I knew that I eventually wanted to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, but of course, that dream wasn’t going to materialize the minute I finished school.  So I needed something to do while I was single and before I began raising my share of arrows for the Lord (Psalm 127).

The closer I got to the end of highschool, the more important it became for me to know what God had for me, and I was beginning to get impatient.  It was time to plan, but I did not have a direction.  While I was a decent student, I did not excel in any particular subject enough to feel like I wanted to pursue it as a career, but I wasn’t even certain that God had a husband and family in my future.

In the end, I decided that I would pursue a bachelor’s degree because if I got a job, that would help, and because as a homeschooling mom, it might be helpful (for instance, my mom can administer our standardized tests because she has her bachelor’s degree, whereas other homeschoolers have to make other arrangements; I couldn’t know for sure what the regulations would be by the time I began homeschooling, nor could I be sure of what state(s) I might be homeschooling in).  During the last part of my senior year, I finally understood that my dream of homeschooling would someday come true.  But I still did not want to be idle until that day arrived.

I chose to pursue college online.  This was because I knew I wanted to stay at home with my family.  I’m very family oriented, which I count as a good thing, so the idea of living on a campus away from everything and everyone I’d ever known scared the 18-year-old I was then.  Although I’ve since reached the point where I would feel more comfortable with that situation, I am very thankful that I made the decision to stay home and learn more from my mother during my college years.  I love being at home and involved in all the family’s activities.

Mom and I did some research into online colleges, but at the time they were few and far between.  I got course catalogs from a couple, but the listings didn’t interest me.  When Mom wrote to one college, mentioning that I was homeschooled, they responded that their program was not what I was looking for.  We agreed with them — if they weren’t going to be accepting, we weren’t going to waste our time on them.  Eventually we found Empire State College, which seemed like a good fit.

Empire State College allows students, I could almost say requires students, to formulate their own degree programs, so I knew going in that I could tailor my college education very much like we had tailored my homeschool education.  My mother had finally suggested that I study small business publications because I had enjoyed the graphic design elements in my computer science course during my junior year.  I decided that appealed to me, so I gave it as my tentative plan.  It was better than a simple Liberal Arts degree, which was the other choice!

Then I began writing my applications.  My father’s employers offer a scholarship to children of employees, which was large enough to cover nearly all my expenses.  They wanted an essay which told why I deserved their money (okay, that’s not their words, but it’s the meaning anyway).  As I wrote and Mom helped edit, we finally realized that I was writing the essay about helping people.  I enjoyed going with my mother to help out the elderly ladies in our church, and anyone else who needed something done.

That scholarship essay helped define my entire degree.   I was able to plan my whole degree to prepare for a job in human services administration.  I included several courses on communications and on human development as well, which have complemented my major very well.  In the meantime,  through volunteering at a nursing home, homeless shelter, and senior day care facility, I have been able to find my niche in eldercare.  I really enjoy working with the elderly, so I was very excited when, just two weeks ago, the senior club decided to hire me.  It’s only a few hours a week, but it’s real experience and I welcomed the opportunity.

Now, I’m graduating this spring, and hopefully going to land a full-time job somewhere.  Does that mean I’ve lost my vision of being a homeschooling mom?  Not at all.  But I know full well that I am not ready to be a homeschooling mom.  I have to take a couple of other steps first!  In the mean time, I hope to glorify God through my work in eldercare (or a related branch of human services) as I wait for His timing.  My work in the human services field will ultimately prepare me to be very useful to my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I am learning the services that are available.  I won’t stop helping others when I get married any more than I’ve forgotten my dream of homeschooling just because I’ve gone ahead and gotten a college degree.

Helping others and homeschooling are two pieces of the puzzle that is my life, and I trust that God knows exactly where to put each piece, and when to put it in.  So long as He’s doing the driving, I’m just thankful to be along for the ride!  And ultimately, the goal is not to help others, or to homeschool.  My purpose here on earth and someday in heaven is to glorify God and fellowship with him.

When I grow up, I want to be more like Christ.


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