“I cried every day last week.”
That was the answer I gave when someone asked me how I was doing the other day.
Awkward, I know.
But it was the truth and sometimes you just have to let people in your mess. I’m pretty sure my friend was sorry she asked because then I was all LET ME TELL YOU HOW I’M DOING.
The details aren’t super important, but they do involve me running a non-profit and BEING COMPLETELY INADEQUATE.
Random stress facts might also include: the first week of school, strategic longterm planning of Mercy House and restructuring both organizations in Kenya and the USA, my son locking my keys in my car as I was heading out to carline, which left my first grader stranded, some hard parenting stuff, me yelling, having company for the long weekend and not a clean towel in the house, oh and being accused of money laundering by Western Union at 4pm on a Friday, JUST TO NAME A FEW.
During one of my many crying stints, I whined to my husband, “I never wanted any of this–the piles of paperwork, the uncomfortable stretching, the hard hard work of being inadequate and trying to learn something so foreign to me. I just wanted to help girls in Kenya.” He just patted my back reassuringly and ordered me a margarita.
I often keep the day-to-day struggles of this God-sized dream to myself. It’s easy to when struggle is your normal. I’m an introvert and it’s not easy for me to ask for help. But God is continually using this journey to change me. Part of the growing is being desperate in the wilderness moments. We all have those seasons of being overwhelmed and lost, struggling, wandering, the days when no one asks how are you doing? And you are dying for them to. So, today I’m saying it out loud.
My family just completed year 3 of chasing our God-sized dream and here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. We desperately need Jesus, every hour, I need Him. I constantly find myself questioning the next steps to take as we pioneer and fund the first-of-its-kind maternity home in a developing country across the ocean. I need divine wisdom at every turn. I don’t have the education or background for any of this and it drives me to my knees.
2. We need community. Isolation breeds doubt and pride. I cannot live this life alone. I cannot achieve my goals or chase this dream without help. And part of accepting help is being honest about needing it. I’m constantly looking to surround myself with people who can dream with me.
3. It gets easier. I gave up control around year one (since I never really had it). I can’t always predict or prepare for what will happen next, so I stopped trying and worrying so much. God has never lost control and He has a plan. Plus, I can almost talk about Mercy House without crying and I only weave it into every other conversation. And I can have a pedicure without guilt. It’s called progress, people.
4. It gets harder. At the start of year 4, you’d think I’d be used to the stretching and pulling. It’s a lot like my husband doing Crossfit workouts faithfully three times a week for the last two years. Just when his body is adjusting to the constant strain, he comes home sore, from being pushed harder and further. The thing about God-sized dreams is they are always bigger than we are, stretching and pulling us further than we think we can go. I don’t think at some point, I’ll wave God off and say, “I’ve got this. Thanks for your help.” And if I do, it will become my thing, not His. I’m growing into the dream, but the dream keeps growing. And some days I feel lost and overwhelmed and very tired.
5. It’s good to look back. As intimidating and overwhelming at the future seems, it’s encouraging to look behind me. A specialist in Kenya who is helping us structure the organization for growth (and making Maureen and I work harder than ever) said to me in a particularly emotional moment recently, “Kristen, you have already achieved your goal. You set out to help girls and you have done that. Very few organizations achieve their one main goal. This growth is uncomfortable, but it is good.” I cried. Again. Because yes. This face and eleven others like it are a constant reminder of what God has done.
6. It’s good to look ahead. For the last 36 months I feel like I’ve been treading water and not only in the bigger-than-me dream, in life too. As a mom and wife, I’ve had to learn to shut down my computer and close down the constant barrage of “I need to’s” and just live because life keeps on going, kids keep growing and needing you. As we enter this new season of dreaming, I’m looking ahead and expecting God to do great things.
7. We would still say yes. Even though I want to quit my volunteer job about once a week, I wouldn’t change the past three years for all the ease and comfort in the world. I’ll give you 24 reasons why (12 moms, 12 babies). I’m sort of glad I didn’t know everything thing I was saying yes to because even in the oh-so I’ve learned that my inadequacy is the perfect place for God’s glory. And watching Him be glorified in a broken place, through an unlikely group of people, makes me want to say yes all over again.
I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. I don’t know if it’s in your rearview mirror or if looms large and scary ahead. But don’t doubt for a minute, He has one for you.
Don’t be afraid to chase it.
Photo by Bess Brownlee