Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't Go Off Half-Cocked

For the first year that my sweet oldest child was away at school, I woke frequently in the middle of the night in a full blown panic. Is she okay? Where is she? What if something happened to her? Why didn't she text me? And so on until my breath came in quick gasps, and my heart was ready to pound out of my chest. This only happened a few times before I realized I had a choice: Trust God or lose my mind. I relinquished control, and now when I wake in the night, instead of worrying, I pray.

A few months ago, after reading Seven Sacred Pauses, I felt drawn to the idea of praying at specific times during the day and night and began trying to practice in a more organized way. Unfortunately, the more I tried to make it a part of my schedule, the more it evaded my control. Again with control.

Why?

Frequently, an idea comes to me, and I run full speed ahead and sometimes into a wall. Looking back I realize that God is still there, the idea is still there, and the only one who moved was me...ninety miles an hour into a wall. My dad used to say, "Now don't go off half-cocked," which I never understood. I just googled it. It means "to go into action too early or without thinking." Yes, that applies. Thanks, Dad :/

By trying to schedule praying into my day, I realized that I consistently pray at regular times of the day. In other words, when I stopped to think about it, I realized I was already doing the task I was trying to implement. This led to considering all the books I read, all the studying and journaling and introspection. Then, last week in meditation, I heard very clearly, "You know enough." Since I don't often hear guidance quite that clearly, it struck me. I knew immediately what it meant: Stop using self-improvement as an excuse to avoid moving forward.

Mark Batterson observes that most people "...are educated way beyond the level of their obedience. We don't need to KNOW MORE. We need to DO MORE with what we know." Kind of leaps off Maya Angelou's, "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Many of us already know our purpose, but we put it off waiting to be better equipped or holding out for a big opportunity instead of just doing the little things. Much of our life is lived in the meantime as we wait for our big break.

For me this means: Send a text or make a phone call (I. Hate. Making. Phone. Calls.) Write something ... anything. Send an encouraging Facebook message. Apologize. Forget perfectionist tendencies and handwrite a letter. Occasionally it means patiently listen to my tiny chatterbox when I want to tell her to hurry because we're going to be late. I'm called to express mercy and compassion, not just in big ways but in every way.

So a whole lot of quotes and clichés and dead dad wisdom later, I think my point is: Don't get so caught up in finding your purpose that you miss it altogether. You might one day write the great American novel, but today you can send an email to a lonely friend. Perhaps you will run a marathon next year; today you can run around the block. Someday you might be the voice of your generation, but in this moment you can speak kindly to the cashier at Walmart.

It's okay to run ninety miles an hour in the direction of your dreams; just keep your eyes open so you don't miss all the opportunities along the way. It's great to want to save the world, but today it might be enough just to ignore the voices that say you can't ... even if those voices are only in your own head.

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