“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”– P. Yogananda –
Every once in a while, I stumble across something that thrills me through and through with so much joy that I realize what souls were made for.
It’s not always the same thing.
Sitting in the sun sharing Chex Mix with two children whose father abandoned them, loving them in their blunt, innocent pain.
Nina at the nursing home, who wheels her chair up until she rams the piano bench and keeps offering to be my sister, since I don’t have one of my own.
It’s not so much a place or an activity as a pattern. The Lord sets me in opportunities, and I realize with surprise that this is what I was created to do. This is where I belong. This is where my strange, mysterious, unexplainable mix of qualities can flesh out healing and love and joy.
On Thanksgiving Day, a friend and I were discussing personality types over turkey and mashed potatoes. We have very similar personalities, so we were enjoying comparing our in-common experiences with people.
“I often tell people ‘I understand’ when they are telling me about terrible things I have never experienced, ever!” I confessed to my friend. “I know I haven’t gone through those things, but I feel a little of what it must be like.”
Sometimes, that can be a lot of pressure. To discern the pain that someone is feeling and knowing that you have to do something is a big responsibility. Another friend wrote me about a woman fighting sex trafficking, who said:
“I know too much to not do something.”
Story of my life. Like that woman, I know too much not to do something.
Recently, another friend and I were talking about this mysterious piece of me, and I felt a little overwhelmed.
God has given me this strange, crazy ability to be able to deeply feel people’s’ pain, absorb their discomfort, cry their tears, exult in their joy.
And it’s a little scary. I have to be vulnerable–not only to my own life’s trials, but to all the pains and aches and bright places of the lives around me. I have to open myself up to others even when, at times, I long to insulate myself from the suffering of a broken world.
But as I thought about my personality this week, I realized something:
My happiest moments–the times when I feel most alive, full, and complete–are when I am loving God (and loving others through Him) in the context of my design.
That’s the best place to be.
If you’ve been questioning how you were made, wondering why you were given a particular gift…If you’ve been struggling to understand your calling…If you’re afraid of the hard, painful work of sharing love with the hurting and the hopeful…If you’re wondering why your life has played out the way it has, to bring you to this very place–this encouragement is for you.
“Our constant sacrifice to God should be the praise of lips that give thanks to his name. Yet we should not forget to do good and to share our good things with others, for these too are the sort of sacrifices God will accept.”
– Hebrews 13:15-16, Phillips paraphrase –
I’ve come to believe that it takes vulnerability to embrace God’s gifts in our lives. The point where He made me to be strongest is also the point with the most potential to overwhelm and devastate me.
But it’s worth it.
When I’m doing what I’m created to do–and surrendering myself to coming out the other side changed and even scarred, if necessary–that is when I best worship God with my life.
When I am faithful to my design, my soul sings, because that is what it was made to do.
Maybe you’re wondering if it’s too risky to do what you know God have gifted you to do. Maybe it’s outside your comfort zone. Or maybe it’s your immediate instinct, but it costs you.
Are you afraid to give your special design, your amazing gifts, to God in worship? Are you running from your compassion, your teaching ability, your serving heart, your analytical mind, your artistic talent, your leadership capabilities, because you fear that diving in will cost too much?
I sometimes feel the same way.
But we know too much to stay quiet and unmoving:
“Tell those who are rich in this present world not to be contemptuous of others, and not to rest the weight of their confidence on the transitory power of wealth but on the living God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in kindly actions, to be ready to give to others and to sympathise with those in distress. Their security should be invested in the life to come so that they may be sure of holding a share in the life which is permanent.”
– 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Phillips –
We are the rich of this world–many of us literally, all of us spiritually. As Christians, we have everything we need to do the works that God has prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). “By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory” (1 Peter 2:3, CEB).
That means He has given you resources and personal gifts that are too precious to waste. And trust me, nothing will give you greater joy than resting in the love of your heavenly Father and then sharing His love in the context of your design.
It’s what He made you to do–glorify Him by doing what He commands with a redeemed heart of love.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
– James 2:14-17, NIV –
If the Spirit of Christ fills us, we are equipped. We are ready. Nothing can hold us back from joyful obedience, when we surrender to His Spirit. He gives us all we need. Trust God with how He made you to love and go take the risk of loving. Put those scary, wonderful gifts He’s given you to work.
It sometimes hurts. It sometimes bursts over you with fullest joy. Sometimes, it is a mix of bitter and unexplainably-sweet.
But the center of His design is always, always the best place to be.
“And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:8, AMP –