A small tendril of sin has been growing in my heart for some time, but until now I left it nameless. The tiny demon pops up when I scroll Facebook and see my married friends adopting a new puppy or an old classmate down south buying a home.
I confess I have been idolizing a certain kind of normalcy—the steady job that looks successful to everyone else, the insurance, the safety of knowing where you were going to be for more than three months. Growing up with a dad who worked 8-to-5 and a stay-at-home mom, my idea of “normalcy” is a piece of fine china I nurtured. I took this definition of adult life with me while navigating the Christian journey. Now, on the cusp of graduating college and losing my staring contest with the unknown, the tendril is matured into a full-grown weed garden.
I pray, wrestling with my idol of a white picket fence and attempting to let God have the throne to himself. I’ve worshipped my personal ideal for too long, but the weeds run deep.
In the midst of frustrated tears, I keep returning to the same part of Scripture. Right as Jesus restores him, Peter breaks gaze with Christ’s call on his life. He turns to John, points to him, and says, “Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21). Jesus’ response gently rebukes me along with the disciple: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22, emphases mine).
The “normal” I long for feeds off desires for human needs: stability, safety and security. These in themselves are good things. God blessed me with them as a child, and my parents loved me through the environment they laboured hard to create. God himself is the one who knit these longings into my heart.
These longings, though, should not define my life–God should. He should be more dear to me than any idol I cling to, but I am distracted by what everyone else seems to have. I’m slowly and painfully learning that life is not about being a cookie-cutter image of someone else’s calling. Life is supposed to reflect Christ working in me, and it may not include safety or material security.
The little fissures in the sidewalk widen too much too often, though, and I let the weeds consume me. I easily use my idealistic definition of being normal as fuel for dissatisfaction. I frantically look about at everyone else, pointing fingers, saying, “Lord, what about him? Or her? Can I have that, too?”
Whenever the Vinedresser comes back in with his pruning shears, he shows me that he has his own call for my life, whatever that may be. I need help trusting, and he hears my cries and is blessedly patient. My future may not ever resemble my definition of normal, but I can know for certain that it’s defined by God. As I continue to submit my fears to him, I’m trying my best to listen to his voice: “YOU follow me.” If I get a cubicle in the end or not, the praise belongs to him.