Last year, the Black Lives Matter movement brought to the surface your questions about how to attain a life well lived, your anxieties about the tension between public service and a comfortable American dream, and your frustrations with the limitations of an introverted self. Your friend Niyah has been moved to pursue a PhD in Public Administration so that she can more effectively challenge systemic racism than she can in her current job as a medical case worker. She is an inspiration to you through her passion for discipleship, her personal history with social justice advocacy, her intolerance of racist policies and practices, her role as a hub of hospitality and authenticity within MiddleTree church, her warmth and openness, and the way she mothers her daughters.
You, like Niyah, want to live a life of service to the God who is redeeming the world he created. But you worry that you are whistling away your life sitting on the couch, laboring on your laptop, and cashing checks from your employer – while there is a whole world out there that you are missing out on. A world that is missing out on what you have to offer. The whispers worth of community service you have managed during the STL and DC years humiliate the loud-voiced soul that sings its grandiose intentions into your ears whenever you are brave enough to listen.
You told Zack about it one night when your soul was sounding especially operatic. (There had been another shooting of an innocent, unarmed black man by clearly racist and foolish police officers.) Zack comforted you, which he does so well… but that made you more worried. Do you want this frantic desperation to have change-the-world impact to be quieted and calmed? Isn’t that inertia the problem?
Then you picked up Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning, and Zack’s words of comfort were reiterated.
It is not for you to decide how your efforts will be used by God. Or to wrench a win from your efforts to improve mankind. It is not Tash that will, by sheer effort and perseverance usher forth the world as it should be… Rather, the work is to perform small acts of love that are in front of you, to pray for opportunities to serve God, and to be brave when you are given a moment of inspiration. God will use your small donations to His Kingdom however he decides. An action that you thought was groundbreaking will turn out to be no biggie, another that you thought was misguided will turn out to yield blessing upon blessing. Your job is to keep your eyes open and to respond to (not force yourself on) the universe as God leads.
Ultimately, the question you are left with is this: What motivation will you allow to drive you as you strive make the world a better place?
You have a couple of gears… Try to use the gear that leads you to listen for guidance from the Spirit and trust and obey God in the small things. Try to release the gear that pushes you to prove that you have worth because you have made things on Earth better than they were if you didn’t exist. Humility over pride. You are not a lifeguard tasked with single-handedly saving humanity from all the threats to God’s will being done on Earth.
Replace your fear of inefficiency with a trust that God designed you serve him patiently as you: limited by your energy levels, emotionally vulnerable and fragile, and overwhelmingly aware of the great many injustices in the world. He knows the ways you are, and he loves to see you serve him with the inspired confidence of a beloved child.
Be a child, Tasha, not a lifeguard.