I’m realizing that my life may not be all about me. And that is a hard, hard truth to swallow.
Our family temporarily relocated to Kenya a couple of months ago for the sake of my husband’s business. We told ourselves it would be a grand adventure for the entire family, something that would bond us together and transform each of us.
A third of the way through our grand adventure, my husband is focused and motivated and content. My son is maturing far more rapidly than we thought a four-year-old could, exhibiting courage and curiosity and resilience in impressive measure.
And me? I’m drifting, wondering why I’m here and what purpose God has for me.
In the few moments of quiet I have in this new country, my mind flits here and there, desperately seeking some foothold of meaning. I wonder if God will bring a fantastic professional opportunity my way. Perhaps there is a new best friend waiting to be discovered. Or maybe God will completely change my heart, performing great acts of healing and discovery and personal growth.
Or maybe not.
At a giraffe reserve with my husband and son.
“It’s not all about you,” I sensed a gentle voice say the other day as my gut twisted with discontent over the drudgery of my current existence, of my daily struggle to create a life for my family here. Grocery shopping. Arranging home repairs. Transferring money. Finding kid-friendly entertainment.
“But I thought it was all about me,” I admitted to God. “I thought something amazing was going to happen here.”
Truthfully, I have fully absorbed a fundamental belief of American culture and American Christianity: I am unique and special, and God has a unique and special calling for me at every moment in my life.
And while there is truth in that — certainly God sees and loves each of us as irreplaceable individuals — I’ve fallen into the trap of defining “unique and special” by the world’s terms: as accomplished, attractive, popular, impressive, admirable.
That version of “unique and special” does not describe the role I’m playing now. As my husband and son thrive, I feel like the sidekick or the character whose only function is to facilitate plot exposition. Or I feel like a set designer or lighting technician in this current act of God’s play, tasked with creating the conditions for others to shine.
God may have called me to an exotic locale, but my role here may not be exotic in the least. Instead my calling is to be steadfast and faithful, to be the scaffolding that helps my family members meet their potential.
My husband’s impact while in Kenya, at least, is already clear. His leadership will help provide life-changing solar power for millions of people in East Africa. As for our son, we already sense how his life trajectory may be altered by this deep exposure to a different country and culture.
I can’t say it feels particularly satisfying to stay deep in the background as those around me speed down the superhighway of significance. And yet, when Jesus challenged us to lay down our lives for one another, he probably knew that many of us would be doing that not in grand, heroic ways, but in the daily drudgery of service and humility and presence.
Yet it is most often in that faithful drudgery that we are able to love one another and build one another up. It is in the small, steadfast acts of service to others that we see more clearly who we are and what we have to offer.
I know my presence here is essential for my husband to work and my son to feel content and secure. My logistical and emotional support are allowing them to grow and do amazing things. My role, however unglamorous and invisible, still matters. It is something only I could do. Such is the beauty of community in the kingdom of God.
God is clearly moving in our Kenyan adventure. He’s changing my husband, my son, our family, and — though not in the impressively dramatic ways I was hoping — he is indeed changing my heart. He’s helping me understand that stepping aside and allowing others to be center stage is good for my soul. He’s demonstrating how a unique and special calling may have very little to do with being accomplished and impressive, but is instead honoring of God, of others, and of the particular role he has given me.
It may not be all about me, but God is still taking me on a grand adventure of his own making.