I will instruct you, and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8My mom and I had a good ol' heart to heart the other night. Ya see, I'm still sort of in this weird in between stage in life. That time where you're officially done with school, officially considered an "adult" and yet officially...you still have no idea what you're doing. It's like people expect you to be an adult with all the crummy things like bills and responsibilities and work, and yet no one takes you seriously with all the cool things like your opinion, decisions, or advice.
But I guess that's the name of the game. So, you know, I think I'm okay with it. Varsity wouldn't be as awesome if you didn't have to work you're way to the top, right? There is just as much joy in the journey as the destination...and who wants to be an adult anyway? Once you're fully taken seriously, then that means you're full of wisdom, and to be full of wisdom you have to be old. Soooo I think I'm okay staying young for a bit.
Alriiight that was a rabbit trail, and I think I just invalidated everyone who says I am "wise beyond my years." (hopefully you detect me being dramatic and sarcastic above, I don't actually think you have to be old to be wise...who decides what is "old" anyways?)
ANYWAY the truth is, my mom and I had this heart to heart because I wanted to seek her approval. It almost felt like I was asking for her permission to get married, but instead was asking if I would receive her blessing to pursue a possible international ministry project.
Now, okay here's the thing. It's not like this comes as a complete surprise or anything. Obviously, international missions is something that has been on my heart for awhile now. Something I've already participated in. Something I've been to school for. BUT under certain circumstances there has been some apprehension as to when I should pursue a commitment to this particular type of work.
Well you know what she said?
Without hesitation, she said that she would support me wherever I felt God was leading and that she trusted me because she trusted the One who she knew I was following. What faith! I don't even know if I have that much confidence within myself and so to hear that just blew me away.
But there's a greater message to all of this.
As she gave me her blessing she explained just why she was so quick to encourage me on my journey. She reminded me that God guides everyone down unique paths, and we are commanded to love and support people down those different paths. I realized in that moment, while experiencing first-hand my mom's compassion, that this is definitely an area where I have fallen short.
You see, I tend to think pretty black and white..I'm a "Paul," I like to lay it out for people. Here is Step 1, Step 2, Step 3...but it's not always as easy as 3 steps is it? (Though, boy, I wish it were) No because while we mean well...we can't always advise people from our bias perspective. We don't always have the answers. We can try to put on other people's lenses, we can try to walk a mile in their shoes, but we can't ever fully understand and we'll never fully be able to understand where they are in their walk with God either.
I don't want to be known as someone who is condemning. Challenging? Yes. But not condemning. I don't want to be seen as someone who lacks compassion. Or who fails to love, support, and accept people right where they're at. Of course I still believe in mentors and discipleship and accountability and all that jazz; all of that is just fine and dandy. I still believe in confronting believers when the Spirit leads you that way. I still believe in the commandments of the Bible, that "love means that we live by doing what he commands" (2 John 6).
But I guess I just feel that first and foremost we are to love others. To extend compassion to those who are on their own unique journey. Not condemn those who have a different passion then ours. Not judge those who may desire marriage and kids over a career. Not label those who stay in their hometowns as "complacent" or "safe."
I'm guilty of all these things.
Yet it took someone extending compassion to me, in the midst of many who were pressuring and judging me in my convictions. Not trusting me when I told them that I am going to God daily asking for direction and discernment - wanting HIS will to be done, and not my own. They were trying to tell me that I need to do Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. I think we need to be careful with that fine line between seeking accountability and wisdom, and trying to please man over God. I'm learning it's a very difficult thing to have to turn away from people at times, especially those who you hold close and dearly love, but ultimately I answer to God first and I always will.
We all may think there is a right way and a wrong way, and you know sometimes there is... But sometimes, people just need love and encouragement, need to be directed to seek Jesus who is the true Shepherd, need compassion right where they're at, and need support within their unique journey towards righteousness.
I'm excited for my journey and I'm excited about others' journeys. I'm glad that all of our lives are different. We so often fight that but it's truly what makes life so beautiful! Our different quarks and talents, jobs and lifestyles, timelines and journeys all act as the BEST examples of how beautiful our God is, how many different ways He works, how diverse are the people He equips, and how unique are His avenues to do so.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4:4-6