I love life mottos—yearly mottos—life verses—and yearly verses.
Can’t remember when it all started – because isn’t it funny how when something big is starting you don’t even realize it? It’s sort of like that question that only a few can answer – “So when did you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?” I’m so afraid of that type question that I just try and accept him every day – just in case – always like to be safe – or should I say saved (can’t help it – I was raised a Southern Baptist).
So, I turned 50 (over four years ago) and my motto for that year was:
I don’t know.
Because … that is exactly what happened. There were just entirely too many questions out there in the world that I didn’t have the answers to – and too many people who seemed to know everything – like Condoleeza Rice – she frankly intimidated me.
I remember too during that time – that I was just coming off a two year high – of feeling on top of the world – more fit than I’d been in 20 years – the best kind of relationships – and a vocation that was really gaining momentum – but not sure what happened – perhaps I could say: I happened. Perhaps I began to make idols of my new physique, my relationships, my vocation …
What am I saying!? – I totally did – no perhaps about it.
When some of those things were threatening to be taken from me – I held on so vigilantly I made myself neurotic. I clearly remember the moment at Caribou coffee with a friend. And another at Starbucks with another friend.
Yikes – I should quit with just two memories before I make myself neurotic again!
Every good and perfect gift is from above … (James 1:17)
You see, I took these good and wonderful gifts – and turned them into idols (aka making them more important to me than the Giver of the gift).
I found my identity in my vocation more than in the Giver. I enjoyed my relationships with others more than I enjoyed my relationship with the Giver. And then the gentle Giver began to show me the error of my ways.
Now, I won’t go into all the ways he showed me – but I can tell you that it was a tinge painful at times – yet – it was also gentle.
See, I get the overwhelming feeling that God loves me a ton – and he is jealous of my love. He continually gives me the choicest of gifts – and I too often turn them into … well you know.
So, needless to say I have given back to him my vocation, my friendships and my body (not sure he wants that one) – and let him do with them what he wants.
And he brought me to a place of “I don’t know.” A place of being back on my face, and finding my satisfaction in him.
In a dry and weary land where there is no water, my souls thirsts after you O God. (Psalm 63:1)
That’s where I needed to be—thirsting after God and not those good and perfectly lovely gifts. I heard in a sermon that when you get to the desert and your satisfaction is not found in Jesus, you will dry up.
Now, I don’t just give up my mottos when the year is over – I add them to my collection.
And here are a couple of things I have gained in this I don’t know motto.
First, but not the most important – I have come to love relying on other people’s inspiration, wisdom and creativity. I often think God has me in a “cloud of ineptness” so that I will more be communal. Lone rangers are so unattractive to me.
This communal reliance reminds me of my dear friend Elizabeth Garn – she is one 20-something-year-old who helped me step it up for kingdom activity like you wouldn’t believe. God knew just when to send her my way – and it was a beautiful thing [note: this is not chronological by any means – God sent me Elizabeth in 2006 at the beginning of my current vocation]. Her creative brain and love for the Lord and others was instrumental in those early days.
I also love what my preaching professor said to me back in the last millennium—advice I’ve dished out more times than I can remember:
“You don’t have to know, just get ready.”
That was after I said, to him, “I have no idea where God is calling me.”
Here’s the thing, I still don’t know – many things – but I do know this – God knows everything – and he doesn’t just know it – he takes notice of it – and is pleased in leading and delighting in his children.
I don’t know …
but God does.