I hunger for big things: the grand romantic gesture, the one time blazing act of martyrdom, the finished marathon, the diploma in hand, the wedding vows stated in front of all. I wanted to save the world. (And if I’m being honest, I still do.)
I read of the violence in the Central African Republic, the discplaced in refugee camps all around Syria, the trafficked, the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable. I hear the stories of the immigrants who have come to this country in search of a better life, and the children of those immigrants who have braved deserts and rivers and violence and death in search of their families.
I see the brokenness, and I want to fix it – to be the hero – to solve the problem – to make it better, in one grand gesture – in one quick fix.
But I know my smallness – and also have come to know that, if I’m honest, I’m not that special. I’m not the smartest, or the hardest working, or the most creative. I’m not the most loving, or the most disciplined, or the most faithful. I’m above average in some ways, below average in others – mediocre in more ways than I care to admit.
And that is OK. (At least they say it is… sometimes I believe it. But more often than not, I don’t.)
I’ve heard this before. I’ve known this at times. But I forget. I learn, and forget. I remember, then forget. I see the stories, feel the need, taste the darkness, and all too easily become overwhelmed. It hurts too much to care about this beautiful, broken, frozen frozen world. It disappoints you. People let you down. They are broken, but it can feel like a betrayal. I let myself down. I am broken too, but it can feel like a betrayal.
To open ones heart to the world is to let it thaw – to open oneself to pain. And all too often this past semester I have chosen the easy way – the lazy way – of sitting, of withdrawing, of sleeping. Of shutting out, of building walls, of numbing.
I noticed, but waited for something to change – for some epiphany to strike, for something to happen that would result in change and redemption and newness and hope.
These last weeks, I’ve been thinking though…
I’ve been thinking about decisions, and hope.
I’ve been thinking about faithfulness, and about small steps.
I’ve been pondering what it would look like to be living a life that is abundant.
I’ve been pondering what it looks like to live fully, richly, in ways that open myself up to the present – to possibility – to the risk of rejection – the risk of failure…
To remind myself that living courageously is sometimes not a matter of standing in front of the tanks or lying to the SS, but sometimes it is to step into possibility knowing it may not work out. Sometimes, it is to risk that rejection one again, even if you don’t think you could survive. Sometimes, it is to risk failure, even if you have failed time and time again, and you think that one more failure will destroy you.
Sometimes, that is courage. Sometimes, that is what living faithfully looks like.
And sometimes, it is putting on layers and going down to the lake and running through the ice and snow. Sometimes, it is building a fire and connecting with your roommate and picking up the guitar that you haven’t touched in months and playing until your fingers ache. Sometimes, it is making that phone call, writing that email, praying the examen and really listening to your heart. Sometimes, it is a posture of gratitude, and doing what needs to be done today, even if you did it yesterday, and even if you’ll have to do it again tomorrow.
And sometimes, that one small act really is the grand gesture – the simple act of beauty that will save the world.