To those of you who only know me as Kristin, the professor and writer, let me tell you a secret. After college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life (other than becoming a best-selling author, which didn’t seem practical or plausible–still doesn’t, even with a book published). I was working nights at Dixie Stampede as a server and hadn’t given graduate school much thought. I just knew I didn’t want to teach (*insert ironic chuckle*) and the prospects of moving off and starting a new adventure sounded appealing.
Six months later, I entered graduate school, working toward my MFA in creative writing, but still wondering what exactly I was going to do after it was completed. I was newly married and working part-time at a Primary school.
I’ve filed three LLC’s with the state (as a mural painter, personal chef, and most recently, editor). I attempted 7 varied occupations after college before I started my career as a professor. If someone had asked me 12 years ago, “Do you think you’ll be an online college instructor?” I would have raised my eyebrows in disbelief. When I entered college, I’d planned to explore art and write children’s books on the side. Who knows what I was thinking would happen? Never could I have imagined how rewarding and pleasant teaching would be. But I don’t view my past experiences (or experiments, might be more accurate) as fails or even glitches. Looking back, the path may seem a little too curved across the map, but the ups and downs and zigzags took me to the place I am now. And, more importantly, they shaped who I am.
We sometimes think that when we throw darts at the target board, all our missiles should hit the center bullseye, but the majority won’t. We don’t sweat too much because we see these attempts as “practice shots,” making us more aware of where we need to throw and how we need to aim. I’ve thrown more darts than I care to remember; some of them have hit the outside edge, some litter the floor and some have poked out a eye or two (okay, not really…just using some metaphorical hyperbole). Anyway, I’m slowly processing the lessons.
- Keep throwing. Yeah, some will be misses, but one thing is for sure: you won’t hit a bullseye if you don’t throw a dart.
- Ask God for vision: Is this the target you want me aiming for, or is there another one on another wall? (If you don’t get an answer right away, keep throwing).
- Realize the muscle growth is more important than the points accrued. The more you practice an instrument, a sport, or an art, you develop certain muscles, callouses and intuitions. These attributes fine-tune us in deeper ways: perspective, perseverance, and patience. Keep throwing (see the central theme?) 😀
- Don’t focus too much on the bullseye. This idea may seem like a contradiction to everything else I’ve said; let me explain. By all means, set goals, fight for dreams, and work for that achievement, but recognize that accomplishing God’s will isn’t merited by how many darts hit the bullseye. He doesn’t care about rungs on the ladder or trophies on a shelf. He cares about–and so should we–the heart of character. God cares far more about your worth coming from Him than from our performance. Who we are overshadows what we do.
Finally, I leave you with a little snippet from Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something:
“Expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do. God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going. God has a wonderful plan for your life–a plan that will take you through trial and triumph as you are transformed into the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29)” (DeYoung 24,40).