I have been thinking lately about what I would do if I stopped doing what I do now. Higher education is life-giving in so many ways…and allows theft of life in others. I am not at a place where I want to stop; I have simply been wondering what I would do instead if given the opportunity to change course.
I have discovered that it is not an easy question to answer. My vocation is complicated, and layered with years of broken dreams and failures and little victories and grace. On every CV and initial email to a job, I simply want to write, “I have multiple degrees and several years of experience in two diverse fields. I have lived a lot of life packed into my years. I love people and want to serve. I am a better listener than talker. I will give 150% to everything placed before me. I have a heart for the underserved and marginalized because I believe every human being is made in the imago Dei. How can I serve with you?” But that kind of talk is not recommended by the career advisors and headhunters and consultants. Alas.
Some twelve years ago, in a moment I forgot about until today, I made the choice to play it safe. The consequences of that choice have led me to a career I could not have imagined on my own and an area of service to others I did not know existed…and a lot of nights spent in tears wondering if I was, if I am, doing the right thing. Because I stick out like a hooker in church. Because I view success differently. Because I want different things than my colleagues. Because what makes my heart beat fast isn’t something that drives them.
So what would I do if I could? The answer, though complicated, hasn’t really changed in the last twelve years. I would leave the States. I would stop crying every time I see a kid get baptized and go somewhere where children who do not have the privileges of those around me can learn about Jesus and get baptized, too. I would sell my possessions AGAIN. I would love to lead young women to embrace the identity they have in Christ and own it and live free and brave wherever they are. I would tell them my story, which is really just a little speck in God’s big story.
A song I am vaguely familiar with came on the radio today, stating the following:
Lord I’m ready now
All the walls are down
Time is running out
And I wanna make this count
I ran away from you
And I did what I wanted to
But I don’t wanna let you down
Oh Lord I’m ready now
Lord I’m ready now
Instantly, the memory of the day I was saved popped into my mind. I don’t know why. I haven’t thought about that day in a long time. But I thought about it today. About that particular invitation for salvation. About invitations for forgiveness. About invitations to come to the altar. Not to worship or praise or lament or confess, but to lay my things down to burn up and be refined and restored and redeemed.
I sent in my RSVP for that particular invitation some 30 years ago. I’ve been invited again and again over the years to be refined, to rest, to remember what has been both lost and found.
I received another invitation today. To reflect. To consider possibility. To stop playing it safe. To lose my white-knuckled grip on a life I have become rather adept at mucking up. To do what, I have no idea. That’s the beauty of it, though. To simply be able to reach a place where I can say once more, “Lord, I’m ready.”
Miss Dana Simmons
X Joyfully Accepts