In just one more day, the calendar says I’ll be 34 years old.
What an insignificant age, I told my mom. Nothing too special about it.
She smiled and said, “I was 34 when I had you.”
Can you imagine if I had six children right now, the oldest of whom was 14 years old? I can’t even fathom it. When I was younger, I thought that would be my life. And now it’s not. But it’s actually okay. I thought that my impact on the world would be through having and raising a bunch of kids of my own. And maybe I still will someday.
But the truth is we are all called to be impact-makers – to leave parts of ourselves behind by influencing the world through our unique giftings. Some are called to do that through their children, some through their careers, some through spiritual discipling and mentoring – some through all of those ways.
But if our circle of impact looks different from another’s, let us not feel like we are a failure. We may grieve the lack of an impact we want to make but let that not keep us from missing the impact we are making in the place God has given us. He never makes a mistake. And if we choose to give in to negative, bitter thoughts about our current role in life, we will miss the value of the impact we are currently making.
As I thought and prayed about what my focus and impact should be in the next year of life in front of me, I came to see that the Lord wants me to press even deeper into the mission he has called me to accomplish.
Psalm 61:1-5; 8 says, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. […] So will I ever sing praises to your name, as I perform my vows day after day.”
My vows are to walk deeper in relationship with my Maker, obediently carry out the mission of loving and discipling those in my sphere, and diligently develop my craft to honor him.
And every micro-decision I make day after day needs to come back to these vows. I easily get discouraged and doubt myself and what He’s called me to. I get exhausted and want to give up. But just like the psalmist, I cry to him when my heart is faint. I allow him to strengthen me when I get tired. I take refuge in the one who has created and called me. And he points me back to what I need to do to perform my vows to him.
I made a list the other day of the things I’m afraid of and the things I’m excited for in Year #34:
- I’m afraid of not being good enough as a writer. I’m afraid of the rejection that will inevitably come.
- I’m afraid of not having enough time to pursue the dreams I have.
- I’m afraid of not making enough of an impact because of my own selfishness.
- I’m afraid of not choosing the best things to pursue with my time.
- I’m afraid of getting complacent and losing my love of travel and theatre and writing stories.
- I’m afraid of being insignificant.
- I’m afraid of wanting to make too much of myself and not enough of God.
- I’m excited for new possibilities and opportunities.
- I’m excited to see the new things I’ll write and how I’ll grow as a writer.
- I’m excited for the new books I’ll read and be inspired by.
- I’m excited for the new places I’ll go and see (either next year or in years to come).
- I’m excited to make new friends and make existing friendships stronger.
- I’m excited to see the ways that God will draw me closer to him and make other things fade away in insignificance.
- I’m excited to be on mission for my Savior – championing his truth and carrying his message of hope to those around me.
I don’t have unrealistic expectations of fame and glory and daring adventures and showstopping moments. I don’t expect that this will be “the best year ever.” It could be the worst year ever.
But one thing I do know is that if God has called me to do his work and his mission, then he will equip me and sustain me to carry it out. I don’t want to get complacent. I want to be forward-thinking and moving, risk-taking, commitment-holding, and faithful in every small moment.
Thirty-four may just be another number on the blip of my life. But I pray that the moments lived in it would add up to greater impact and greater glory for God’s kingdom. I pray that my heart would be shaped and fashioned to be more like Christ’s and that I wouldn’t lose sight of what he’s called me to.
To him I commit this year. He gives meaning to every year, day, and moment in between. I’m grateful to be his.