When I was in college, one of my main focuses was success and getting good grades and performing well so I could get a good job after I graduated. I have always had a type A, achiever personality. Anyone else out there like this?
Growing up, I was always told I was a natural with children and I enjoyed working with them, so when the time came to choose a major, I chose education. I knew that an education degree directly led into a job as a teacher, and I was excited and passionate about the idea of being a teacher!
My heart got all warm and fuzzy inside when I imagined my future classroom and all the students I could love on and inspire. I loved my coursework and excelled in it; I was even the recipient of the student teaching award my senior year. I think at that point in my life, the idea of being a teacher really did captivate me.
The thing about teaching is that often the idea is much different than the reality.
Don’t get me wrong, after 4 years of teaching, I had many wonderful experiences and ‘aha’ moments with my students. But when my idea of teaching did not match my reality, things got rough.
My self-confidence lowered, I felt as though I was failing at everything I tried. Stress and worry and anxiety overtook my days in front of the classroom. I began to wonder: how did this happen? I was supposed to be really good at this. I was supposed to be a natural at this.
Then I began to realize, maybe this was not my gift. Maybe teaching in the public schools was not where my passion truly lie. Maybe I would thrive in a different environment. I was confused and mad at God for leading me down this path that seemed so natural, only to let me fail.
But the truth is, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
I began digging into scripture and found these words:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3
These words told me that it was OK to fail.
These words showed me that I was actually working for men and not for Him, and I needed a shift in this area.
These words revealed that it is wrong to have fear of the future.
These words taught me to have hope and wait for His perfect timing and vision.
I began to realize that maybe I had been so captivated by my possible success and what everyone else thought I was good at, that I did not take a look at my heart and my natural gifts from God.
Have you ever stopped to think about what captivates you? I mean REALLY, TRULY captivates you?
Captivate is defined as: to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence; enchant.
I think, even more than that, when something truly captivates you, it will withstand the test of time. It will withstand the test of fear and challenges, and it will withstand the doubts from yourself and others. When something truly captivates you, you will fight for it.
I shared my story above to show what can happen when you start following a dream that is not truly on your heart. I shared this story so that the girl who dreams of writing a book someday will go ahead and major in English even if everyone says, “what will you do with that degree?”. I shared this story for the boy who wants to be a missionary, even though his whole family is full of business people. I shared this story for the one who thought they were heading down the right path but are finding roadblocks along the way shaping a new path. I shared this story for YOU. Whatever your dream or situation may be.
You can change your mind, and if you have the desire, you can align your God-given gifts and passions with your work or your hobbies. When we align ourselves with our spiritual gifts, we begin to feel both a peace and a fire within. Peace in living in God’s grace and vision, and a fire of spirit and passion for our work.
I’m so thankful now for the stress and the tears. I learned SO much from that humbling experience, and I believe we can all learn from the challenges placed before us. I learned to truly listen to myself and the Lord’s voice in my life’s calling.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
I know now for me, at this point in my life, I am truly captivated by God’s mercy and grace, inspirational writing, marriage and exploring God’s creation through travel.
So, I ask you, what truly captivates you? What dream or gift do you have that God has given you? What next step can you take toward fulfilling that dream?