“I don’t know how you do it!” I hear this all the time. In my attempt to be the consummate maverick, I am constantly finding a way to challenge myself to grow, reach a goal I’ve set, or climb a mountain so that the person behind me can see it can be done. Seven countries and another degree later, the past year has pushed my faith in God to the limit and opened my eyes to the joys of world citizenship. An expat in a country I’ve only visited twice, had no roots, and didn’t know a soul, I stepped out on faith knowing that every place I set foot belonged to God. And if He’s in charge, I’ll be okay.
I do not consider myself to be a person with innate bravery who charges headlong into the unknown. I am just a woman with a whole lot of faith. I used to be a scary little thing. Job interviews terrified me, I had a fatalistic world view, and felt guilty for not having conventional desires that equated to the American Dream. Through doing the hard work of self-reflection and challenging myself to debunk the myths I believed about what I should want, do, and be, I decided that if God said I can do it, then it’s getting done. Full stop. It didn’t matter if someone I knew had done it or not. It didn’t matter who agreed or not. I just knew that if I was certain the Lord revealed it was His will for me, an alternative outcome was non-negotiable. You simply just don’t tell God no.
If I were to share my two pennies about how to be like Nike and just do it, my first piece of advice would be to know yourself. A lot of us don’t know who we are because we’ve been trained, often at a young age, how to perceive ourselves. We place limits on our talent because at age 10 someone told us how far we should dare to go, and we enter into adulthood with those limitations going unchallenged. Even if our potential is greater than what we’ve been told, that leash remains around our necks telling us to stay with the pack and don’t dare pull ahead. There are many people living beneath their privilege because of that leash, and without realizing it their perpetual discontent and unrest is due to living under the constraint of a delusion imposed by someone who truly didn’t know enough to speak on anyone’s potential, let alone their own. That was a mouthful! In the words of Iyanla Vanzant, “Breathe! Stay in it!”
I read a quote the other day that reminded me of a question I often ask those in the younger generation so that they can challenge themselves to debunk their personal mythologies, “How can you let someone who doesn’t know who they are tell you who you are?” We sometimes give people too much power and too much credit because we may tend to think they know more than we do, including about ourselves. However, we must entertain that many people engage in what I call “mental sorcery”; they give the appearance of knowing much because we may hold them dear or they have a place of authority in our lives. However, the reality is they may actually be like the Wizard of Oz–a little man behind a velvet curtain pushing buttons, sometimes at random. Let that sink in. The devil will use anyone to speak the leaven of limitation into our spirits, and from my experience it is often due to their own fears , disappointments, and lack of faith.
When we know ourselves, we can also assess what our gifts and talents are and how we can best see them applied. Whatever we are called to do, we must know that we know that we know what God is saying to us. I cannot stress this enough; people may look at our lives and see certain things, but they may not really know what they’re looking at and how those gifts should be used. Everyone with a speaking gift is not a preacher. Everyone who loves to travel will not be a missionary. A person who loves to debate may not necessarily be called to the field of law. We must be careful that we don’t put our gifts in a box and think there is only one way to go because we have received counsel from a limited perspective. There are many ways our talents can be used, but ultimately God directs our paths.
Once we know who we are and what we can do, we must chart our course. While faith is the foundation, without works it is dead. It may not sound spiritually glamorous, but the reality is all the faith in the world does not exempt us from the works of preparation, assessment, counting costs, and receiving wise counsel. God would not have us ignorant. We may not be of this world but we live in this world, and that means we have to develop a skill set to help us navigate everyday life. If something is revealed as God’s will, we have to do our part to be in a place to receive else we either delay or abort the mission altogether. That’s why we cannot simply say, “If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” Not necessarily. It can be meant for us to buy a car, but if we don’t go to the dealership, guess what? If we didn’t budget for the car note, factor in insurance, and that in addition to obtaining we must also be able to maintain, well, you know the deal. Our destiny in Christ is not fulfilled on autopilot. We have to cooperate and do our part as expressed in His Word.
Doing all of the above takes hard work and focus. We must understand that things will not always be easy, and difficulty is not an indicator that we are going the wrong way. Despite the challenges, when we see growth we know we are on the right track and it will be worth every second. Stay positive, stay grounded, and stay in faith. God will not fail !