You belong at the table. Part 1.
I just wanted to email you with a question I think you could answer for me. I’m 19, studying writing at the university of my dreams. I feel so young, yet at the same time, I feel like I should already be making an impact in the world. I know many people my age already working really hard to be successful and I have this mindset that I’m behind or something. It feels like everyone else is thriving and accomplishing things worth talking about while I’m just here writing my thoughts down, not knowing if I’m even making an impact in anyone’s lives. Am I behind already? Should I be publishing a book or something by now? How do I know when it’s my turn to do something big? I want to be young and enjoy my college years, but I also want to be able to share something that’s mine with the world, something I’ve poured my entire being into writing. I want to feel proud of myself. I want to have success in writing, which success can mean multiple things to different people, but I also know being a writer isn’t an easy task for the ones who really want to make it a career. Is this fear of feeling behind normal for a writer? And is there ever the “right time” to begin?
My favorite guy in the Bible is Moses. There’s just something about that man that, if circumstances were to arise, I’d pick him instantly as my partner for the Amazing Race. He’s got this really fascinating background you’ve got to pay close attention to as you read about him. He wasn’t always splitting seas and leading people out of captivity. He had a beginning. And he had some false starts.
At one point in the story, God plants his vision inside of Moses. I’m sure you’ve felt that before. Suddenly, you catch this bigger glance of what things “could be.” It’s the kind of vision that keeps you up at night. It leaves you breathless, thinking to yourself in the quiet of the middle of the night, “I might not be an accident.”
Moses jumps too soon though. He gets so passionate about his “one-day mission” that he flails out of control and starts that second. The result of that? Some dude gets killed and Moses has to go into hiding for 40 years. Yikes.
I think about what Moses did during those 40 years of hiding. He planted roots down. He became a father. He tended a flock. If you think about leading an entire people group out of Egypt one day, applicable skills for dealing with unruly people would be a) raising children and b) herding dumb sheep.
It’s easy to look at that story and think: well, I don’t want to wait 40 years for my destiny to unfold. And that’s not what I am prescribing to you. But I will say this: the seasons you want to discount might be more crucial than you think or realize.
I remember college. I remember thinking to myself: I don’t want to get lapped by other people. My life has to start now, too. But that’s a myth. Because your life has already started. And everything happening around you is meant to be soaked in and lived.
What if Moses were to neglect the flock because he was too busy thinking about the things he messed up or the people who were lapping him? The devil is in distraction these days.
What if I were to invite you to a dinner party at my home? I send you the link and I ask you to sign up for something. I want to make sure the dishes on the table are diverse that night. You take a glance at the list and you realize someone is bringing a unique appetizer. Bacon-wrapped dates (only because that’s my favorite thing in the world). You wouldn’t think to steal what they’re making. You wouldn’t double up on the bacon-wrapped dates, right? So why would you be willing to do the same thing with your calling? Why would you look to others to inform what you bring to the table?
If you spend your days focusing on what other people are doing, you’ll miss what God wants to do with you. You’ll miss the marrow. You’ll miss what’s unique about your story. And let’s be honest, there is far too much imitation in the world already. What we need is people who are willing to get alone with God, dig deep, and figure out what they bring to the table. Because it’s different than what someone else brings.
First things first: you belong here. You belong at the table. The table is long and there is plenty of run so let’s stuff an apple in the mouth of the liar who tells you there’s not enough room. Yes, the world is noisy. Yes, social media is loud. But people don’t tire from watching others do good in the world.
Step one: come to the table with all the experience you have so far. Don’t belittle it. Don’t strap words like “not enough” or “too much” to the things you do. Just bring it all with you because it all counts. We can start with that.