The most memorable award I ever remember receiving was an accolade for 'best hair.'
I was seven.
They called my name in front of the entire elementary school and I stood up from the shiny gymnasium floor, stunned. I couldn't believe they had noticed; could hardly believe that I was having my own moment, a moment meant just for me.
I walked through the parted sea of students to the front, beaming.
I don't think I will ever forget that day.
Though, I'm not sure that I've won anything since; or even achieved anything the rest of the world would consider significant. To be honest, I've always considered myself average.
And yes, even in hair.
What I lack in excellence, I've made up for in setting goals.
I would go to college. I would get my masters degree. I would get the job. I would get the man. I would maybe (it was questionable, then) have children. I would live the American dream. I would be special. I would relive that moment from when I was seven, over and over again.
Yet, here I am. I finished college. I received a $45,000 piece of paper that allowed me to get my dream job. I married. I brought two children into the world. I obeyed the Lord and quit said job. But I don't feel any more special, any more important, or any more seen.
Sara Hagerty, in her newest book writes, "God loves to hide us. Behind circumstances and callings and misjudgments and scorn from even the dearest of friends, He hides us. We may feel veiled and unnoticed, but God is training us to to turn our eyes toward Him, to find Him there. Our hidden places aren't signs of God's displeasure or punishment... God doesn't banish us to this hidden place. He invites us."
I've spent so much wasted time scrambling for a purpose when it was right in front of me the whole time. I've hustled for platforms and microphones when God's asked me to step down into His refuge and listen. I've cared more about finding the eyes of the world then finding the eyes of the Creator. And, I've missed this simple invitation from Him. It's not easy to accept His invite. It's not easy to RSVP to a life of dying to myself. It's certainly not easy to be comfortable with walking the narrow road, often alone. More often than not, hidden in Him.
I think that I, like many of us - battle the desire to be seen. We're not all writing blogs, or managing Instagram lives or becoming influencers. But, we're all looking for validation. We're all looking to be agreed with, liked, and noticed. We want to be understood and we want to even understand; ourselves and our purpose. We're all searching for meaning.
But, we're uncomfortable doing the exact opposite of what the world calls us to do; hunker down. After all, we think meaning is found in what makes us greater. Not in what makes us smaller.
So, we join rallies and forums and protests. We show up to work earlier and answer emails later. We do what we can to stand out, to be noticed. And we do it all under the banner of passion; of purpose. When really, it should be called by another name. We're lost in a sea of offense, tolerance, and hashtags that declare who we are and who we aren't and where we stand. And, we're found worshipping at the feet of personality tests and self-help books and campaigns that tell us how to build a better platform. And really, we're all just secretly dying to be seen.
Somehow, we've turned what we think our purpose is into an idol. We've made what was supposed to be about God, about us instead.
Maybe this doesn't even make sense to you. Your'e shaking your head and saying, "But Tabitha, it's good to know who we are." And actually, I would agree with you. Regardless, I still have to wonder -- by what means do we know ourselves? By who God is? Or, by what we do, by who approves of us, and by who cheers us on? Or not. A lot of times, we call this purpose. Our intentions get all jumbled up with our identities. We just can't help it. That's just who we are.
But God offers, and sometimes demands, that we hide ourselves in Him. It's in this hidden place that He reveals His purpose for our lives. Surprisingly, it doesn't have much to do with us. It's just about Him.
This clears up any confusion we might have about our purpose; about the meaning of our lives. It's certainly not about winning 'best hair' in some end of the year celebration. It's not about doing all the things and achieving all the goals. It's not about fame, fortune, or even family. It's not even about changing the world, not initially.
When Jesus called to His disciples to follow Him; they immediately left their boats and at once, left their nets to do so. They didn't bother to return home to their friends or family to ask for guidance or get approval - they just up and went. They didn't question their purpose, they just followed right after it; right after Him. They knew He would lead them to where they needed to go.
We make it all so very complicated, don't we? We try way too hard to figure ourselves and our lives out. On top of that, we've made our callings about our careers and our purposes about our identities. Meanwhile, the Lord is calling to us to just follow Him. To lay down those nets that those fish are tangled up in and to get up and out of that boat we've spent most of our days in.
Our purpose in this life has nothing to do with who we are. It has little to do with who sees us. Unless you flip the script.
Our purpose in this life has everything to do with who He is, and who we are in Him. It has everything to do with God seeing us.
You know what beats out that incredible day in elementary school?
The random Tuesday that my husband and I drove to our church to be water baptized together. It wasn't on a Sunday when everyone was watching or music was thumping in the background and congregants worshiped. Instead, we sneaked behind the stage with our two friends and one by one jumped into the hot tub to get dunked. It was just us and them and God. It was absolutely beautiful. I left my husband there to get back to work, and I headed home knowing that the Lord was absolutely watching me, applauding me, and beaming at me from above. I had His full satisfaction. I had grasped hold of my purpose. I had grasped hold of Him.
IN THE WORD
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him." || Matthew 4:19-20
"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." || Psalm 138:8
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." || Matthew 6:33
"He has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." || 2 Timothy 1:9
"Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” || Jeremiah 9:23-24
"The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men." || Psalm 33:13
"For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, And He sees all his steps." || Job 34:21
"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." || John 15:4
"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." || Colossians 3:1-3