I don’t have a boyfriend or a car.
I’m 23. I still live with my parents.
Most of my socks have holes in them.
I just spent $99 on paint. Acrylics, to be exact.
I hold a temporary job. It’s shift work, and this week I’m working nights.
I spent this evening sitting at a small table in a church, affixing gift cards to unsharpened pencils. The cards read: “Your work with children is write on. Know that you are loved and appreciated.” The pencils are for Sunday school volunteers, apparently. I don’t know. I don’t even go to church there.
At any point this evening, I could have banged my hand on the table and shouted, “This is irrelevant! Where is tying cards to pencils for people I don’t even know going to get me? I’m out of here!”
The problem with such a scene is that I would have to make the same declaration about my entire life.
Life doesn’t really make sense to me right now. That is, it’s not unfolding before me as a logical series of events that look something like this: find job, find man, get married, have children, save the world, retire, and golf.
But more than my lack of direction, my life is completely incongruent. All the many things that I like to do and have to do on any given day seem completely unrelated to each other and irrelevant to the grand and glorious calling that I simply must have as a child of God. I am overwhelmed with the sense that I am somehow missing the point, missing my purpose. Unfortunately, this is one table I can’t get up from and shout, “I’m out of here!”
Of course, I’ve got it all wrong, and surprisingly that realization comes with great relief. My purpose as a child of God is not to figure everything out or to always have an explanation or a tidy slot for every element of my life in some grand, comprehensive scheme.
By God’s mercy I will wake up each morning and submit all pretense of control to the One who really is in control. I will put my hand to tasks that are sometimes enjoyable and sometimes drudgery, but most often mundane. I will do things that do not make sense and that do not directly advance my career or social status or sense of accomplishment. And every day I will put myself aside so that I may both love the people around me and profoundly experience the love of God. This, all of this, is the point.
I hope I do not paint too drab a picture of Christian living. I’m convinced that God always mixes “magic” in with the mundane—the same presence of Jesus Christ in our day-to-day living that caused Moses’ bush to burn and gave David his songs in the sheep pen. I find “magic” when I do menial tasks to serve the people around me, when I see a likeness of God’s eternal nature in a cloudless sky, and when I discover symbol and metaphor in an epic story.
And just like an epic story, my life will have a conclusion. It will be the coming together of all the incongruent parts. It will be something glorious. But just like a character in an epic story, I will not understand all the events and activities and people who sweep me toward that end.
This place of bewilderment is exactly where I want to be. In this place, I am ready to meet God and to follow his Spirit as it moves. In this place, I can “throw away” expensive paint on brown paper canvases. I can park my car on the side of the road and hike through broad green fields. I can serve brothers and sisters of another congregation even if I never meet them. This is a life of incongruence; this is a life of messy and indescribable beauty; this is a life of deep-seated security found only by acknowledging that I belong to God. This is life that is truly life.