Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Permission to Fail



The past year has felt like the most drawn-out invitation to retreat into the Small. It would have been nice if it had ended with moving to a smaller house.

Life has gotten busier in the strangest ways, and still, here it is, the nudge and pull to be less, do less, have less. We've been confined in closer quarters, squeezed of our excess, stripped of the senseless religion that's tailed us from our youth.

But we're a couple of old dogs and these new tricks don't feel right sometimes. We're prone to wanting, quick to forget that this is the flipped-under world that we signed on to when we believed and agreed that we would walk these miles with Christ.

The truth is, God calls His people to do great things all the time, and by "great", I mean big. And by "big" I mean, like, really actually big. Things that get people noticed. Things that pay the bills and then some. Things that require marketing teams and fancy shoes and extra forms from the IRS.

But sometimes, His calling is big in a really quiet way. Sometimes - often - the Bigness happens shyly, inside us, when we finally agree to unclench our fists from the allure of standing just a little taller than the rest.

Blogging is a tricky boat to steer and sometimes I struggle to make sense of how it fits in with my life right now. I'm wistful about the days when the words came more easily and didn't cost me an ounce of pain.

I'm going on five years and somehow, astonishingly, this community keeps growing. (Thank you! Also, really??) The people in my back yard sometimes think this thing is a biggish deal, but what you and I know is that I am a drop in the bucket. And sometimes that thought comforts me more than any other, but sometimes I notice that the blog sisters of my generation have book deals, magazine spreads, conference tickets, etsy shops, thriving businesses, and 85,000 followers. At a minimum, they've defined a niche or their work helps pay the bills thanks to a sidebar full of quirky-cool ads.

On those nights, I stew around my kitchen and stir doubts into the soup. Maybe the smart people are right and I'm doing it all wrong. I could do more, shout louder, switch to Wordpress, write more, say less, network like I mean it, take a class, learn a trade. I can't compete. The world around me is savvy and I just recently learned what "domain" means. I hit the pillow feeling sure that I should just shut it all down.

Because of course I'd like an invitation. Heck yes, I wanted the book I spent over a year writing to be published. I struggle to find my place, my worth, amid what I think I lack.

But here's the fantastic, can't-wipe-the-smile-off-my-face fact of the matter: Little is much. Small is holy. Quiet can be sacred.

That year I spent hunkered down in the fox room taught me a few important things. 1) Not a single dot or dash of art is wasted time. 2) I can write a whole book!! 3) I can write it just for me.

The day may come when all of this changes. It's not likely, but it's possible. Until then I'm clinging to the simple truth that my Savior found His home in the small and the ordinary. He invented the crazy math where a little + even less = more than necessary.

So I'm right here, cheering on my sisters who are doing things "better" and "bigger". They're walking the path laid out for them and they're doing it justice. I'm reading and learning from them every day.

But for me, and maybe for you, our bigger doesn't work the room and our better won't ever own the crowd. 

It is neither my duty nor my desire to push away from where I've been placed because this is a thing of beauty and my heart is being straightened out in the process of watching those around me snatch up the things I always thought I wanted.

It's amazing how wrong I've been about what I need. I've seen too much to go back to thinking my plans are the right ones.

So my hope is that in the moments I seek recognition I will find only His; in the days I crave popularity I'll rediscover the humbling gift of my brokenness; in the time and time and time again that I fall back into defining success by things that aren't real, I'll come face-to-weary-face with my failure. Because only then can I remember the truth of it all - there exists no failure inside Christ's sovereignty.

If I am His, I am exactly enough.
If you are His, you are exactly enough.