What You Hold Verses What You Grow
When I was young, I was often asked about what I would be when I grew up. I felt quite a bit of pressure to know the answer to that question. Frankly, though, I had no idea. I knew that I liked to draw pictures and make up stories. Both of those things usually got me in trouble in school since I drew pictures instead of listening and the stories I made up were sometimes interpreted as lies. I did imagine that someday I could use those things to be a children’s author and illustrator. Since school never went well for me, I knew that I did not want to be a teacher.
I came from a Christian home I was taught that I should pray for the things I want. Therefore, I simply prayed and asked God to make me an author and illustrator and then waited for Him to do so. It never seemed to me that He was actually doing that. When it came time for me to go to college I told my dad my plans and he said I could not become an author or illustrator, because I’d never make money doing it. I searched for another career that would allow me to draw pictures and write stories for kids and I found one. It was a teacher.
I figured since God didn’t seem to hear me about the author, illustrator thing I might as well go into teaching. I did and found that I loved it. I felt so full and complete. I knew that I was doing exactly what God created me to do. I taught for ten years until one day I knew that God wanted me to stop teaching and stay home with my children. One of my daughters had severe asthma and maintaining her health while teaching fulltime seemed impossible. I reluctantly quit and became a “Stay-at-home-mom”. Now, I admire woman who do this a great deal, but I never felt it was for me. I loved being with my children, but I also wondered continually if God was using me.
My husband sensed that I wanted to work again so he bought me a company to run. Running your own company may sound exciting to some, but for me- it was not exciting at all. It was terrifying. I had taught Kindergarten, First grade, and Second grade. One year I taught third grade and realized the third graders were smarter than me, so I went back to teaching Kindergarten. I couldn’t even keep my checkbook balanced. So, I had no idea how I would run a company. It seemed that’s what God expected me to do. So I did it. And, after some time, I began to love it. I wrote business plans and drew characters for my website all why staying home with my kids. I thought I was doing exactly what God created me to do. I felt full and happy. The only part of running a business I didn’t do well was the selling of stuff. And since I didn’t sell things, my company didn’t continue to do so well every year.
As my daughters got older and healthier, my husband suggested I go back to work and that we sell the business. I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I was all grown up and was suppose to go find a job. I prayed again wondering why God wouldn’t make me into an author and illustrator. It seemed I just kept doing these random things in life without knowing their purpose. I told God I take whatever job came along and that I’d do anything except, of course, sell stuff. We both knew I was not any good at that. Eventually a company called saying they wanted to talk to me about a job. They were a publishing company and I was very excited. I hoped they would want to publish my stories or let me illustrate for them. I was wrong. They did offer me a job, but it was in sales. They wanted me to sell their books. I did and eventually I got really good at it. I even had opportunities to write lesson plans for their books and draw pictures of things to go with those plans. This was the best job of all. I knew I was doing what God had created me to do and I felt completely full and happy. I did this for several years until the company decided they were no longer going to close the division I worked in. My job no longer existed. At this point, I was completely shattered and confused. I began to think of all the things in life I had held and wondered what I would do next.
Through all those jobs, a story began to develop. It is the story of The Little Pot. In this story, The Little Pot is continually filled and emptied with things. The potter puts papers into it and it believes it will be a smart paper pot. But the potter makes another vessel for that purpose and then empties Little Pot. Next the potter fills it with coins and it thinks it will be a rich coin pot. But the potter makes another vessel for that purpose and Little Pot is empty again. Finally the potter fills the little pot with dirt and a small green plant. Little Pot assumes it will be a beautiful flower pot. It still is wrong, however, because its flowers are really fruit. Little Pot finally discovers that it is a fruit pot and that its true purpose is to bear fruit for the potter.
I had to discover that through all the jobs I held and all the titles I carried, God had one purpose in mind. I was to bear fruit for Him. The author, illustrator thing did finally happen for me, but it isn’t the thing that makes me feel full and content. I know now that I can’t find contentment in what I hold. I can only find it in what I grow.