A word popped into my head the other day and I haven’t been able to shake it. That word was “radical”. I was reminiscing about the last year, the trials I faced and the mountains I climbed, all with the grace, patience, and love of Jesus. I’ve spent the last couple of days thinking about how radical my life has changed since Momma left this world and how my life flipped upside down, but what I failed to think about was how radical my life has changed specifically because of Jesus.
Radical can be defined as ‘very different from the usual or traditional’ (Webster’s Dictionary). Often in my own mind when I hear the word ‘radical’ my thoughts immediately go back to the historic readings I suffered my way through college about radical politicians in far off lands. These thoughts are primarily hand in hand with less than joyous thoughts.
For the first time ever I have come to define ‘radical’ as something joyous because I have reached a point in my faith journey that I can see the works of God woven throughout my life. Seeking out Jesus in the midst of the lowest valleys has been a challenging learning experience that I am still improving upon. Once I started to actively seek and pursue Christ and to learn more about Him, my life began to transform.
I can’t pinpoint a specific instance where I felt the transformation begin. I believe that the small things combined together over time have created this transformation that I’ve only been able to see now through the lens of time, maturity and faith in the sovereignty of God. In another year or two, I’ll probably be sitting here reviewing this current point in my life and seeing the bigger lessons in the rearview mirror that the Lord has taught me.
A few months after Momma died, my best friend Sis gave birth to her second son. I remember the day clearly, I was waiting anxiously in my apartment for any update as I completed my normal housekeeping tasks. I was ecstatic when I got the text from Ryan, Sis’s husband, telling me that baby was here after all that waiting and mom was doing well. They invited me up to the hospital that evening to visit. That night I held a baby for the first time ever and it was the beginning of something I had most certainly not planned.
After living with Sis and Ryan for a couple of months later that year, I had experienced how much fun and hard work it was to be a part of a village to raise tiny humans. I learned 90% of what I know about babies through that time alone and became a person who didn’t bat an eye when it came to picking boogers out of a toddler’s nose while feeding the baby a bottle.
A few more months down the line, after I moved home following Dad’s death I began searching for jobs. I ended up online searching for babysitting gigs. I could do this, I had already mastered two kids under four, I felt pretty qualified at this point. I found a family with not just two kids three and under…but three, that’s right three. Their family story is marvelous and filled with so much love, and one that I am so thankful to have been a part of, but is not my own to share.
This was where I felt like I didn’t have a clue on what to do when I first showed up. I was outnumbered by tiny humans and there was a lot of fussiness involved. The first month or two I had moments where I was really frazzled and felt like I was failing as a caregiver even though at the end of the day I fed those tiny humans, educated them through play, and loved them. All of the basic needs were met but I felt frazzled all the same. I remember thinking “I can do so much better than this!” My need to be perfect was being jumped on by the enemy who was trying to use it to discourage me.
Within my time with this family I began to feel God put it on my heart that my calling was to work with kids. I knew that my body (namely my back) wasn’t going to be able to handle nannying for the rest of my life but what other options did that leave me? I felt myself fearing that I was never going to live up to this calling because of the physical demands. I continued to pray about this knowing that if I worried about it in the moment I was only succumbing into the negative thoughts I had been tempted into believing.
At the end of July I began to push to find a full time job to support myself. It wasn’t that I was unhappy nannying but I had a financial need that required a full time schedule. I applied to businesses left and right. I tried to hype myself up for a potential job back in the lodging industry where I originally was before Momma died. I was waiting for a call back from a job I really wanted in an early childhood program, one that would allow me to work with kids closest to the ages I was already working with.
The phone call didn’t come and I was desperate enough I accepted an assistant manager position to Burger King in north Wichita. I felt it so deeply and wholly in my body and soul that this was not where I was supposed to be that I continued to apply to jobs as I finished paperwork that week.
I applied to a local school district for every open position that didn’t require a teaching license or a CDL. The next day I received a phone call from the high school principal asking me if it was too early to bring me in two days from then to interview. I knew then that God had his hand all over this situation. I had never gotten such a quick turn around to a job application before but I was absolutely thrilled at the idea…except it was high schoolers. I knew it took a special kind of person to work with high schoolers but I believed that I was not that person. I went in for the interview and for the first time ever I wasn’t nervous about the outcome. A few short days later I was called and offered the job, exactly a week after I applied.
I knew God had his hand all over this new job between how quick and seamlessly it seemed to move I had no one else to thank but Him for His perfect timing. Shortly after starting this job, I had a stark realization. Kids didn’t just mean babies an hour old to five years old. Kids also meant high schoolers, you know, the ones I was just saying took a special kind of person to work with…a person that wasn’t me? Sometimes I feel like God is laughing at me and my little human tendencies to be so narrow minded. When I finally accepted that high schoolers really weren’t that bad and was open minded to letting God take full control over my career (or my lack thereof) I became much less worried about where I was going to be in five, ten and fifteen years from now.
I’m not saying that I don’t still worry about where I’ll be in five years…or ten. I still worry because that’s a human thing to do. What has changed though, is being able to recognize when I’m giving the worry too much power and taking it to the cross. Matthew 6: 31-34 says this “So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and our heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
That last bit always gets me, “each day has enough trouble of its own”. Although it can be so easy to fall into the worrying trap and spend large chunks of everyday worrying about the future of my life, there is more to life than living in worry. I can rest assured that by listening and obeying God calling me to work with kids that I am living a life trusting in His plan. Proverbs encourages me in this, reading: “Many are the plan’s in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) That though the Lord’s purpose will prevail, why should I fight it with worry? It’s reminds when Momma used to give me a set of chores to do on the weekend. I could choose to do them all at once or spread them out…but those chores got done one way or another because that’s just how things rolled in her house!
I don’t think I have it all down, what it means to live with a radical faith in Jesus, but I think this specific season of life has given me the best example to continue. Continue to seek Jesus and to know him. Learn about him and not only trust in him but to live my life following him through my words and actions.
Listed below are pieces of scripture I read, prayed on, and studied during the course of writing. I encourage you to look them up and read them yourselves, don’t just take my word!
- Matthew 6: 31-34
- Proverbs 19:21
- Psalm 33:10-11
- Isaiah 14:26-27
- Isaiah 46:10
- Acts 5:39
- Hebrews 6:17
- Matthew 11:28-30
- John 15: 5