When I was a kid I must have been a disappointment to the grown-ups when they’d ask me:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Well, tell me true: How did YOU answer that question when it was posed to you?
For my part, I was far too full of dreams and lofty imaginings to answer reasonably. In hindsight, I know that was not at all a drawback at the time. Nor was it something I ought to have been exercised of to be replaced with more sensible concerns like math lessons.
Which I never got.
So, when I would answer, I mimicked the popular professions of the day encouraged by good parents and families everywhere.
“I want to be a nurse.”
Yes! That particular Christmas I had gotten a Dr. Ben Casey doll, complete with a nurse doll to assist him. Vince Edwards was the to-sigh-for leading man on ABC’s prime time medical drama in the day.
I don’t know that I ever saw a full episode of the show – quite above the head of a little girl – but – I can say that I was delighted to have a male 11 1/2 fashion doll to visit Barbie and her friends.
Never got a Ken doll. Ever.
The reality of the situation was, ACTING the part of a nurse on TV did not include all the years of science and math studies that BEING a real nurse did. Science and math – which I had no gift for, nor interest in.
Nix the nurse idea. I would have to make a career elsewhere – let alone develop the concept of having a PURPOSE in my life.
Then, fascinated as I had always been by old things, history and the concept of ancient civilizations, I thought I would impress everyone with my new aspirations to be an ARCHEOLOGIST.
Setting my sights pretty high at age ten, I even did my 4-H Public Speaking Presentation on the topic that year. Took home a blue ribbon, too. I immersed myself in books about Pompeii and dinosaurs – even designing and creating a slew of “dinosaur cards” with various creatures sketched, colored and labeled. Surely, I was on my way to BEING an Archeologist!
Until the day – fatefully – the spider in the hallway sent me running to lock myself in the bathroom, frantically screaming for mother to “KILL IT!!!!”
Her words that day stung – and found a deep place to root in that literal little mind of mine . . . though, she never knew it:
“Kathryn, you can never be an Archeologist because you’ll have to deal with spiders and bugs all the time.”
Gah! Career dream busted by eight nasty hairy legs!
Of course I couldn’t BE an Archeologist! I don’t DO spiders!
Years passed. That question – “what do you want to be” – loomed larger and larger as I grew – older and older. Suddenly, high school graduation was upon me and I had yet to have any idea of what I wanted to be. Panic ensued – deep down I had no peace about where my life was going. College appeared to be the course of action – but, what on earth would I study! Multitudes of VOICES beckoned me to listen to their sage direction:
“I want to be a history major!”
“There’s no money in that.”
“I want to be an artist!”
“You’re good – but not that good.”
“I want to be an actress!”
“Time to grow up, Kathy . . .”
“I want to be a writer!”
“There’s an idea! Be a Journalism major and write for newspapers”
“I want to be a Creative Writer! I don’t do current events and political watchdog stuff and nonsense.”
Stuff and nonsense, indeed. *Sigh*
I settled for an Advertising major in the hopes that I could make clever and imaginative TV commercials one day. This, I hoped, would tie up my dramatic arts skills – I was always a natural – my creative writing and visual art giftings into one nice, neat, respectable and impressive career option – that had money making possibilities enough to satisfy the Sage Voices.
Grown-ups were pleased.
I was not.
You see, I was always rather honest – to a fault. So, when I had the audacity to point out to my advertising professor that the “bait and switch” advertising campaign was – well – lying . . .
Everyone laughed. I didn’t get the joke. But, I did get “IT”: I would never be clever enough to run with the big dogs on Madison Avenue if I had a shred of ethics.
In my emptiness and aloneness one night, as I lay sobbing myself to sleep – again – full of fear and anxiety about my future, I was painfully aware that I didn’t have an ounce of real PURPOSE. Not a clue as to who I was and what I wanted to BE . . . except . . .
“I just want to BE HAPPY!”
There. I said it. To God – I prayed it. To a God I had only known from afar through the dictates of religious tradition and ritual. But, for some reason, at the end of myself, I turned to the sloppiest prayer I’d ever prayed – straight from the heart . . . not a “thee” or “thou”in sight:
“Oh, God! I am miserable. I am so unhappy. I’m afraid. I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to do. I am lonely. All I want to do is to BE HAPPY. I don’t know how to BE HAPPY. But, if you created me, then you must know what will make me happy. Make me BE HAPPY, Lord – whatever it is that has to happen. Make me BE HAPPY.”
And . . . off to sleep I drifted that night. Sorta tingly. Oddly, at PEACE.
For the first time in my life, I prayed a prayer – and left it all at the feet of God. A God I still, as yet, did not know.
But, from that moment, I knew things were going to change. I had a strange expectancy about it. And, I wasn’t nearly as worried about “being” as I had been. I just went about “doing” what was before me to do. Within two months, God undeniably put all the pieces in place to move me onto my “Happy Path to Purpose & Peace” – leading directly to Him via the cross of Jesus Christ – within five years.
That was thirty years ago.
In the past three decades of finding my “Be Happy Place” in the Lord, I never looked back – but to learn from what was behind. The concept of just “being happy” matured into walking in JOY – a far more powerful by-product of a life hidden in Christ. JOY swells from within – HAPPY is a by-product of JOY. HAPPY is prone to instability, often affected by external elements. When HAPPY is not the flavor of the day, JOY must hold the fort – or it may be subject to ambush by the enemy!
As a young woman, I didn’t grasp this understanding. I grew into it as I grew in Christ. What I did realize then, though – instigating my sloppy prayer – was that there is a HUGE gulf between BEING and DOING. I thought of them as one – and confusion reigned.
You see – the question grown-ups really mean to ask when they want to know the career path that is of interest to a child is:
“What do you want to DO when you grow up?”
To confuse BEING with DOING is a gross injustice to our calling from God to Live as Works of Art:
- Created by God
- Saved by Grace
- To BE in Him – True Bliss; and THEN – Purpose . . .
- To walk and DO the works He has already prepared for us to do = Joy = Happy.
The responsibility is NOT on me to know what the “doing” is all about until the “being” is in place.
Be JOYful in Christ. Do what grows naturally from being centered and cultivated in Him.
Leave the details at His feet. You’ll know what to DO when the time comes to do it, if you keep your focus – and your PEACE on the “Being” – in Him. It is in His “Happy Place” – the JOY of Being – that we can REST . . . in PEACE . . . and LISTEN . . .
God has it all under control. No worries.
Even for a young, confused, directionless girl, coming of age with the weight of CHOICES before her – He was my PEACE – though I did not know Him then, as I do . . .
TODAY. He IS my PEACE – in 2014.
No longer a silly teenager – but a mature woman who’s climbed some mountains and fought some battles, emerging with the jewels – and scars – to prove it. And, it is a battle – every day. Holding the JOY of the Lord captive in my heart as my strength. There are so many cares of this world that seek to topple the castle keep.
Even now, I sometimes find that “HAPPY PEACE” illusive when the “spiders” are storming the castle gates. I see all those nasty hairy legs flinging their weapons of DOUBT and DESPAIR at me, and I am MISERABLE. Feeling undone – confusion sets in and I don’t know what to DO – I only know what I want to BE in the simplest of terms. Suddenly, I am one with the young girl I once was, crying out in FEAR and ANXIETY to the Lord to just “make me be happy.”
In essence – Give Me PEACE!
This is a topic I will be snuggling close to in my quiet times this year. Perhaps now – more than ever – PEACE in our hearts, about every facet of our BEING and DOING, is wanted in light of such widespread world weary unrest. I have my list of “spiders” that need killing. Mom’s not here to kill them anymore. It’s up to me, now. And, thankfully, because of BEING in the LORD, I am more than equipped to kill them myself – slaying eight-legged nay-saying Voices by the power of His Word. There’s only ONE VOICE I need to LISTEN to . . .
Whose voice are you listening to?
His Grace is sufficient for every facet of all He’s called me to BE, and every detail and provision of what He’s created for me to DO.
Sharing A Lifetime of Illusive Peace this week with:
Judith at Wholehearted Wednesday
Jennifer Dukes Lee at Tell His Story Link-up
Jenifer at Woman to Woman Word Filled Wednesdays
Salina at Heart Reflected
Laura on Faith Filled Friday at Missional Women
Fellowship Fridays at Christian Mommy Blogger
Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays