Last week I had the opportunity to go to the Covenant denomination’s mid-winter conference in Denver, Colorado. It was a week free from every day distractions. My purpose in going to this conference was to discern whether or not to pursue pastoral ministry. Apart from discerning my future path, one huge, unexpected take away I got from my time in Denver was understanding the importance of hitting the reset button. As a mom to three young kids, it is a rarity for me to truly consider my future, or my present for that matter. As women I think sometimes we are inclined, perhaps due to societal and familial messaging, to put everyone before ourselves.
My question to my fellow women is this: What does God want for us?
**Disclaimer: I recognize my privilege in having a village of people and an awesome partner in my husband that willingly step in and help take care of my kids in my absence. For those of you who don’t have a village, I pray that someday this might be a reality for you. Consider me a part of your village if you need someone.**
You will notice that my question does not say, What does God want from us? God is pretty clear that He wants our whole being. So we know what He wants from us. But what does He want for us in our present and our future? God does not desire for us to be individuals drowning in sleep deprivation and anxiety. Rather, He calls us to be joy seekers and image bearers living in community with one another. We serve a God who wants us to be at our best, so we can serve others the best we can, pointing others to Him with our best example. Here are three discoveries I made while in Denver which are helping me in my journey of learning what God wants for me. I hope what I learned is helpful to you, too.
Rest is good for me.
We are go, go, go creatures in our culture. I have learned that whether I am working full time, staying at home full time, or working part time and staying at home part time, that striking the perfect work/life balance is a unicorn. Friends, to be our best selves, we need to take breaks. God rested. We need rest, too. My time at the conference was packed with sessions, speakers, and services, but it was also packed with sleep, reading for pleasure, and adventuring. Things that fill my typically near empty tank.
To be honest, I am not sure if my eyeballs had seen the color white since the day before we found out we were going to adopt Ruth. True rest is so good for the body, soul, and mind. Without it we are left feeling empty and lackluster. The concept of rest seems so simple and yet, for whatever reason, we have made rest synonymous with laziness. Let’s dispel this myth and make rest a priority in our lives. I know what you’re thinking and don’t worry: I have now returned to that not quite red and not quite pink state of eyeball that you all know and love because babies and flu season and polar vortex.
Change of scenery gives me clarity.
Along with rest, changing your scenery is so key. I need to remind you that this is coming from a woman who refused to get on an airplane for the past five and a half years because heaven forbid I die while traveling and my babies (who are God’s anyway) have to live without me. Wow was I wrong! If you get the opportunity, change your scenery! I will never regret going to the bustling city of Denver in the beautiful state of Colorado. Did you guys know they have mountains there? Mountains! Oh, and it was consistently warmer than thirty degrees the whole time we were there–what a heat wave!
Before I left for the trip, my friend asked me what I was looking forward to most. I told her I feel closest to the physical presence of God near mountains and I was excited to experience that closeness again. What better way to discern what God wants for me than heading to a place unlike my normal day to day life? The scenery did not disappoint and the breathtaking sights, sounds, and smells gave me a fresh, clear perspective. Because of this journey I now know that my next step is to attend seminary and achieve my Masters of Divinity at North Park University. Through a series of interactions and spiritual intercessions, I am now on a clearer path to becoming who God has made me to be and understanding what he wants for me. I don’t know that this would have happened had I not changed my scenery.
My favorite role is daughter.
The theme of our conference this year was “Love Mercy, Do Justice” from Micah 6:8. We heard a litany of incredible teachings from pastors around the country centered on justice; specifically as it relates to race. One of the pastors touched on our spiritual health and justice ministry being distinctly linked. She, along with other pastors we heard last week, spoke to my heart. God wired me to be incredibly passionate about issues regarding race and justice. I realized that I am at my healthiest spiritually when I am focused on loving others and seeking out justice for others who look differently than me. I so love my sisters and brothers of color and want to be with them in working towards equity and equality. Hearing from the leaders in our denomination that the church needs to step up and be change agents in our nation so everyone has an equal seat at God’s table reminded me that my favorite role is daughter.
I do not mean daughter in the earthly sense, but in the heavenly sense. To clarify, I love my husband and I love my kids, but I love God more than them. He gave me a mind, voice, and heart to create change in a way that points others toward Him. I hope to lead and inspire others to disagree without being disagreeable and to learn from one another. For some reason God has gifted me with understanding and empathizing with other people’s viewpoints and has given me the speaking and writing ability to shepherd and lead people to grow closer to Him and one another. Because of this I’m beginning to learn that my favorite role is daughter–and part of being an obedient, faithful daughter is using the gifts I have been given to live out justice ministry as it relates to racial equity and equality.
Friends, especially my sisters raising young children, my hope is that one day you are able to get out, rest, and grapple with your identity. What does God want for you? What are your gifts? What tugs at your heart and gives you a sense of purpose and meaning in this life? For those of you who are parents, our little people are learning what it means to find rest, joy, and fulfillment by watching us. What will you do to show them that this life is more than just rushing around and checking things off of our to-do lists? If you need to dream or pray with someone to find that direction, know that I’m your girl. And for those of you too overwhelmed to take the next step in discerning your present and future path, I pray joy can find you in surprising, refreshing ways wherever you may be.