Monday, March 4, 2013

Comfort vs. Courage

It's important to have a little background information about me for this post to fully make sense.When I was little, I would dream of traveling to and living in far off places. I wanted to go to school in a different state, study abroad in a different culture. I wanted to join the Peace Corps and live this exciting, adventurous life. But, the reality of it was that as much as I wanted to do these things, I could barely spend the night at a friend's house across the street without getting homesick. I remember on one night in third or fourth grade I "spent the night" at my friend Deanna's house. (Keep in mind that I knew this family as well as I knew my own, and I walked to this sleepover.) We had a great time playing and being weird as we always are, but at nine o'clock when it was time to start winding down, I was overwhelmed with an unnecessary anxiety and could not imagine spending another second away from home. This resulted in me calling my mom in tears and going home. This routine of having a great time and then going home at bedtime continued far longer than it should have. Eventually by middle school, I was able to successfully stay the night at a friends house not without thoughts of home lulling me to sleep. But, I didn't go college in a different state nor did I study abroad. I never stopped wanting to but in all honesty, the thought of these things brought back feelings of that old anxiety and I just didn't have the courage. Throughout college, the opportunities for travel and leaving the Cedar Valley increased and I felt more and more compelled to take them. I began feeling that not only did I want to take these opportunities, I felt that I needed to take them. It took a sharp jab in the ribs from God and His incessant repeating of "move, move, move" to finally do it. I moved an hour and a half away to work at Camp Courageous, then five hours away for my internship in Aurora, Illinois, now I live eleven hours away in Nashville. I hope to one day move to India and work with Loving His Lambs ministry. But even as I type this, I wouldn't be being honest if I didn't mention that pretty much everyday I think about moving back home.

I have been working at a job as a nanny for a four and a two year old both with special needs. While I have now become comfortable with their demanding schedules, medical needs and the overall responsibilities of part-time parenting, in the beginning I was worried I wasn't going to be able to handle it. On the morning of my first day God woke me up forty-five minutes early from a basically sleepless, anxious night and led me to Ephesians. As I was reading this book I felt love of Christ washing over me again and again and again. I finished the book, and spent some time praying until my alarm went off and got up filled with courage, hope, and reassurance that I'm in the right place. About two weeks later I was filled with homesickness again and was still semi uncomfortable with my job. That night I spoke with a great friend who shared my feelings of homesickness. The next morning, God woke me up early again this time leading me to the story of Esther. As  I read this story I was thinking, this girl, probably younger than me at the time, left her home without any questions. Then when all the lives of her people were threatened, she risked her life to save them. And she did it. There is a verse in Esther 4:14 that has become one of my new favorites,  "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows? Perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

"Who knows? Perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this"

When I read this, all I could think of was that Sonic commercial where the bald guy talks about having his mind blown, because my mind was seriously blown (and because I have some issues staying focused).  My mind was completely blown. Esther left her life, her culture, her family to live in a strangers palace and make a complete lifestyle change. She left her comfort to be courageous. Then when she had adjusted to the life of luxury she was given the opportunity to again forgo comfort and be even more courageous and risk her life to save her people.  She didn't have to do any of it. She could have told Mordecai in the beginning that she wasn't chosen to go to the palace and stayed home in the life that she knew, but she didn't.

In an attempt to link the first paragraph with the rest of the story, living a life of comfort is great. It doesn't have to be a palace, but just being around family makes you feel richer and more comfortable than Bill Gates. But, it's not always what we are called to do. Mordecai tells Esther that if she doesn't make the decision to try to save her people, with time, someone else will and they will be victorious, but look at the situation, you are here now! You, a Jewish  woman have been made queen exactly when we are in need of a person of power to stand for us. Maybe this is what you are meant to do! Sometimes we are called to leave what makes us comfortable and choose to be courageous. I have felt that I am meant to go places and do things since I was a little girl. Until the last couple years, I have chosen to stay comfortable driven by anxiety, worry, and doubt.What I failed to grasp is that God loves me. If you haven't read Ephesians, read it and then when you've finished, read it again. While my future is a mystery to me, it is a lovingly crafted memory to Him. I don't have to let anxiety, worry, and doubt drive my life because with Him, I can be courageous. When I choose to allow Christ to fill me up and wash over me, I can do exactly what He has called me to do because I'm not driving my life anymore, He is. This doesn't mean I don't struggle everyday with it, but it does mean that at the end of the day, I choose to trust He knows what He's doing. He allows the little girl me to be proud of the adult me. Who knows when our choices to be courageous will lead us to exactly the moment that makes us who He made us to be.