Leaves

We live in a world driven by the desire to be like anyone but ourselves.

We get discouraged when we are not where others are. We write for ourselves a narrative that says “I cannot be happy until I have what they have.”

Whether it’s a degree, a career, a spouse, a personality or financial status, we aren’t ever truly satisfied. We become anxious, striving to live everyone’s life but our own.

I’m in a season of life in which I’m having to learn to enjoy the slow, gentle and sometimes painful work of growing into my calling.

In March 2018, I began the long and demanding journey of graduate school, working toward a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy—a degree I believed would draw out the gifts I wanted to cultivate.

All the while, I was ignoring what gifts God had already placed in me.

A few months into the program as I began practicing what I was learning, I became increasingly aware of the areas where I was lacking. I found myself prying wisdom from book knowledge, trying to be like every other student in my class.

All I gained was a feeling of complete inadequacy in the work I thought I was called to.

I became discouraged. I was not catching on as quickly as I had hoped. It was exhausting, and it made the idea of counseling as a career equally exhausting.

I think we all have the tendency to do this as believers. We want to be good instantly at the thing we believe God has called us to do.

It is especially easy to find ourselves exhausted on our journey toward becoming more like Christ. We are constantly drained trying to, in our own power, be something we aren’t or aren’t yet.

We get discouraged, tired and wrapped up in using our own wisdom and skill to become more. We forget to see God at work in us as we are. We forget what it means to learn from Him.

Let me remind you of a Man who wasn’t instantly ready for His calling.

In Luke 2:52 we read that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.”

The gap of time between the last verse in Luke 2 and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Luke 4 is roughly 18 years. All we know of this 18-year period is that, He “grew in wisdom and stature.”

Jesus had to grow not only physically, but He also had to grow in wisdom.

The wisdom that Jesus grew into was wisdom acquired through experience.

How humbling is that? The Son of God was not born with instant wisdom. He had to learn, daily increasing in His understanding of His Father, the Word, His identity and His confidence in what He was called to do.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 to learn from Him. As we do this, we will find rest for our souls through His gentleness and humility. As we learn from Jesus, gradually and patiently, we are met with rest that only comes from Him.

Our minds, exhausted from trying to become all that we feel we need to be, can find comfort in the gentleness and humility found in the heart of the One we are called to model.

You may not be where you want to be.

That’s OK.

Be patient. God is working in you, deeply and gently, to accomplish more than you could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

As you grow, recognize the burden that is lifted when you realize that you are a work in progress, daily receiving wisdom from God.

But living this out is a challenge. In practice and faith, I pray you become less consumed by what you have, or don’t have, to offer the world and be more passionate and eager to see what God has already offered you so that you can love and live well.

Jenna Rueff is a resident in Southeast Christian Church’s Care Ministry.