I've been listening to the soundtrack to the movie Amelie repeatedly on Spotify the last couple days. Sometimes I like to think of different songs as the soundtrack to my life, and the Amelie songs by Yann Tiersen are so wonderful. They are light, they are moving, they are happy, they are sad. They run the gamut of daily emotions and color them beautifully. They make the everyday seem extraordinary.
If you have seen the movie Amelie, the heroine makes everyone's lives around her better in beautiful, caring ways. Amelie doesn't live in extraordinary circumstances. She has a mostly normal life, works at a diner. Doesn't really get to travel or do incredible things, but that doesn't stop her from living creatively and finding adventures.
I love how Amelie's care for the people around her makes her world beautiful. The everyday goes from being normal and commonplace to lovely and meaningful.
While the movie has some questionable content, the overall theme makes me want to make life beautiful where I am too. I want to live each day purposefully for Jesus and others. I want every day to be sacred.
Last night I was feeling down about work. Tim and I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller. Keller preached on Ephesians 6:5-9. In the passage Paul is addressing the relationships of slaves to masters and masters to slaves. Keller illuminated the context and showed that in many ways the slavery of Paul's day was more like our present day work situations than the slavery we are familiar with. We are supposed to honor our masters, our mangers as unto the Lord. Unto the Lord. He said that the way to make work bearable, make life meaningful, is to work for Jesus. Whether you are mopping floors or running a Fortune 500 company, you will only experience true joy and purpose when Jesus is your Manager, your Captain.
Keller did a good job explaining why every job is important in God's economy, from the lowest to the most praiseworthy of occupations. Our world simply cannot function if it isn't maintained, cleaned, managed, and cared for. Every task is important. Every work is beautiful when accomplished for Jesus.
Honestly, I felt frustrated when we were finished listening to the sermon. I thought, “Thanks Keller, that's easy for you to say. You are a pastor, your direct manager is God. Don't tell me how to do my job better, you don't know what it is like to be me.”
Not a cool reaction, but that is what I felt, even though I knew it was wrong. I felt convicted, I know there are unhealthy ways that I work and I don't usually work as unto the Lord. I don't work like I'm working for Jesus.
Tim and I debriefed the sermon together and when I woke up this morning I prayed, “Jesus, please help me work today for You.”
I felt more at peace today at work, enjoyed the people I serve, and felt all around better. Really better.
If it is so much easier for me to just work for Jesus, why the pain, why the anger?
Part of the struggle for me, and its a struggle I've been dealing with for years... I don't want to admit that I may be called to something that is hard for me, something that I don't love. I have felt that admitting that I'm called to something that I didn't dream of doing makes me a failure, and that ultimately I'll just be unhappy. I don't want to give up my perceived right to my own calling (which, if I'm the one doing the calling, it isn't much of calling anyway, is it?). I don't want to give away my right to a future I'm satisfied with. I don't want to give up my dreams to anyone, even God.
This morning, I again gave to God these things that I hold on to. My dreams and hopes for the future. I know that I just suffocate them when I hold them in my grubby hands. They are always safer in His.
I had a bit of a personal watershed moment after listening to the sermon when I realized that I struggle with calling, purpose, and so on because I see every path as leading to a different me. There is the childless Abby that works a job she doesn't really like but gets to do some cool things because she has less responsibilities, maybe writes a book, learns a little French, has a dog, goes to Europe with Tim, and teaches a little poetry on the side.
There is the mother Abby, five babies in tow, enjoying the wonder of childhood and helping out at church with Tim. She doesn't get to do things she dreamed of doing but its ok because she has five cute little Tim's to care for and love.
There is the Abby that gets any number of the above things and isn't happy with any of them. And wonders what it is she really wanted in the first place.
Those are just a few examples of my bat-brained thinking, but it really effects how I live my everyday. Last night I realized that I need to stop thinking of the two possible Abbys, or three, or four and just focus on being the one Abby God has called me to be. The Abby that follows Jesus above all things. To not compartmentalize my future into possibilities based on what life events occur. Follow Jesus, do the things I love for Him. You have no idea how freeing that simple idea is to my heart.
Tim reminded me to just look at what my calling is for today. Love Jesus, love the people around me. Today that meant going to work, tomorrow it may too, but it doesn't mean that today's day is the way it will be forever.
This is a new perspective on life for me, one that I have known to be truth but not truly lived. This is a work in progress of course, even as I write this I feel the old doubts creeping back in, struggling to master my heart. But I desire to make the everyday beautiful, sacred through loving Jesus and loving others. It doesn't matter if every dream doesn't pan out perfectly or if any do. It doesn't matter if I die tomorrow, am paralyzed in a year, never have children, or never set foot on the streets of Paris. It doesn't matter if I work in the same place for twenty more years, if I never write a book. Jesus is greater and the only thing that matters to me is that I grow closer to Him and see His face. My life can be simple and beautiful because Jesus is my Captain. The rest is gravy.