As a young girl, I loved spending time dreaming about what I would be when I grew up. Some days, I wanted to be a farmer just like my dad. I loved my time spent in the barn feeding calves, putting in hay, and throwing cow patties at my younger sister. (True story there. We would also dip our fingers in manure and write our names on the calf pens. Again, true story!) I could easily see myself working with the animals and farming the land. However, I also wanted to be a teacher like my mom. As a young girl, my sister and I would play school for hours in our basement. We’d line up our stuffed animals and read them stories, give them math problems to solve, and discipline as needed. I loved planning lessons for my “students”, grading their papers, and writing on the chalkboard. I saw myself as a teacher too.
As I grew older, however, my dreams changed a bit, and I thought perhaps that I wanted to go into medicine. I began volunteering at our local hospital as a candy striper to get a little experience under my belt. (On a side note, I was curious about the history of the term “candy striper”. According to Merriam Webster, the uniforms originally worn by young volunteers were striped and looked like a piece of candy. My uniform was not that fancy, however, and consisted only of a pale yellow apron along with a name tag identifying me as a volunteer.) My responsibilities as a volunteer were fairly simple. I was to refill water pitchers and strip and remake beds. That . . . was it. However, I found that making beds was the most difficult task I could have been given. You see, in my training, I was given VERY specific instructions on how to make a hospital bed. Linens were to be pulled tight to avoid any wrinkles, and pillowcases were to be placed on a pillow without the actual pillowcase touching your body. Have you ever tried to put a pillowcase on a pillow without the case touching your body? It’s nearly impossible! Needless to say, as I struggled with the pillowcases and the realization that I really hated the smell of hospitals, I decided that I had better consider an alternative career choice. So . . . I chose physical therapy because that’s an obvious next choice for someone who hates the smell of hospitals and who would go on to make her lab partners do most of the dissection of their cat in senior year biology because she hated looking at its insides. Physical therapy was an obvious next choice.
So, I went into the end of my junior year of high school with my heart set on physical therapy. I began researching schools with PT programs and looking at my different options. But, I ran into a problem. You see, even though my head told me that physical therapy was the career path for me . . . my heart wasn’t so sure. My heart wasn’t at peace with the decision I had made. My heart . . . wasn’t so sure that physical therapy was what God wanted me to do.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever struggled with understanding what it is that God wants you to do? Have you struggled with understanding what your purpose is or maybe if your life even has a purpose?
Growing up, I had gotten it into my head that God only had one purpose for my life. One. And it was going to be BIG! Like end world hunger BIG or bring about the ban of those biscuit tubes that pop open when you hit them against a counter BIG (By the way, I hate those tubes. They’re worse than a jack-in-the box).
I eagerly looked forward to the day that I would move into His plan for me and fulfill it. But, here I am, over twenty years later, and I still feel like I’m trying to figure out what His purpose is for me. And that got me to thinking. What if God doesn’t have just one BIG thing for me to do? What if our purpose isn’t some huge monumental thing that we spend our entire lives striving for? What if our purpose is found in the small things and in the small moments that fill our days? What if our purpose is just saying yes to those things that God has for us . . . today?
In her book, The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst talks about this idea that we each have what she calls, a “Best Yes”. A “Best Yes” is simply each of us playing our own part. It’s intentionally saying yes to those things that God created us to do. It may be something big, yet it may be something small.
If you are like me, you have no problem saying yes. Quite frankly, I’ve always been one who tended to say yes to everything. I say yes because I want to say yes. I love to help. I want to take part. Other times, I say yes because I feel that it is expected of me. To say no would disappoint others and maybe . . . even disappoint God. And that . . . is too much for my heart to handle. So, I keep on saying yes, to everything.
But, what happens when we always say yes to everything that is asked of us? For me, each yes given is another item added to my to do list: a list that is already filled with the responsibilities of caring for my family, caring for our home, and caring for this MOPS group. Saying yes one more time only adds to the craziness of an already full schedule. And the craziness of that schedule leaves me feeling stressed, worn out, and defeated because I don’t have the time or energy that each item on that list deserves. Can you relate?
Lysa Terkeurst says, “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” A soul that is playing every part, but the part God meant her to. Too often, I think that we say yes to things that God never intended for us to do. They may be good things. They may be great things. They may be things we are absolutely capable of doing and doing well. But, are they things that God intended for us to do? Are they our “Best Yes”?
I want to explore what a “Best Yes” for each of us might look like. To get us started, I need you to ask yourself a few questions, and I want you to answer them honestly. Is there something that you’ve tucked deep within your heart, that you’ve always wished you could do? Is there something you long to do, but either finances, time, or resources, make it seem as though it’s impossible? What stirs your heart? What makes you feel alive just thinking about it?
I want you to write down what comes to mind even if it seems beyond impossible. Can I share mine with you in confidence? Over the past couple of years, I’ve had something that keeps coming to my mind. Repeatedly, I have envisioned myself sharing what God has been teaching me to a large crowd of women. The thought of doing that absolutely terrifies me, but at the same time, I can feel my heart beating excitedly.
What about you? What stirs your heart? What are you passionate about? If you are stuck on this, here are some questions to help get you started:
- What makes you smile? (Activities, people, events, hobbies, projects, etc.)
- What were your favorite things to do in the past? What about now?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What makes you feel great about yourself?
- Who inspires you most? (Anyone you know or do not know. Family, friends, authors, artists, leaders, etc.) Which qualities inspire you, in each person?
- What are you naturally good at? (Skills, abilities, gifts etc.)
- What do people typically ask you for help in?
- If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
- What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
- What do you value most?
- What were some challenges, difficulties and hardships you’ve overcome or are in the process of overcoming? How did you do it?
- What causes do you strongly believe in? Connect with?
- If you could get a message across to a large group of people. Who would those people be? What would your message be?
- Given your talents, passions and values. How could you use these resources to serve, to help, to contribute? ( to people, beings, causes, organization, environment, planet, etc.)
Now, what you’ve written down, I want you to keep it somewhere safe because we are going to come back to it.
Too often, we say yes to things that God never intended for us to do. They may be good things. They may be great things. They may be things we are absolutely capable of doing and doing well. But, are they things that God intended for us to do? Are they our Best Yes?
Terkeurst, Lysa. The Best Yes, Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. Nashville, Nelson Books, 2014.