Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breaking Out of the Ordinary

This week I watched "Dead Poets Society." A lover of quotes, this movie was made for nerds like me. I've been quoting lines from the movie ever since.

I offer you one here, delivered by John Keating (played by Robin Williams), an English teacher at a prestigious prep school for boys:

"Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.' Don't be resigned to that. Break out!"

Do you strive to find your own voice in the world?

Have you ever felt that "quiet desperation"?

Have you known the urge to "break out" of the mold of your life?

I believe there are two facets to this need, this desire, this desperation.

1. We are called to something bigger than ourselves

As far back as I can remember, when I was but a little pigtailed girl in Baltimore, Maryland, I've believed that there was something more, something big that I would accomplish one day. Now if you'd have asked me back then, I would have probably boasted about a future career as a dancer twirling around the stages of the world. On another day, I might have spoken of my plans to become a doctor. And yet another day, I would have eagerly shared my dreams of becoming a teacher.

Yet throughout my entire childhood, I could have pulled out a portfolio of poems and short stories that I kept tucked underneath my bed. And my family could recount multiple plays that I had directed and co-written, along with my cousins. And my elementary and middle school teachers would tell of the little girl that led class programs and won student government elections.

But I also recall a time when I lost my "mojo." It happened during eighth grade, I think. I suddenly found myself surrounded with hundreds of super-bright, super-talented kids. I no longer felt special or extraordinary. And I kind of lost my way.

And yet within me, that voice constantly proclaimed, "Carla, you're destined to do great things. You are special. You are amazing."

Funny thing is, the less I listened to that voice, the quieter it became. And for many, many years, the voice was almost silenced.


2. That "bigger than us" plan was designed by God

That voiced was almost silenced, until I came to know the Lord one day during the beginning of my college career. He reminded me that He had created me for a purpose, for His purpose. And He told me that I was special to Him. That I was amazing because He made me so.

Now years later I am still discovering His purpose for my life. There's the obvious: I'm called to support and love my husband. I'm called to raise my children with love and godly influence. I'm called to tell others about Him. I'm called to uplift, encourage and pray for my friends, family and church family.

Then there's the specific: I'm called to raise awareness about the needs of fatherless children around the corner and around the world. I'm called to provide a home to children I did not physically birth, but love just the same.

And I'm called to write, write, and write some more.

As the mystery of my life unfolds, I realize I may have more unknowns in life than "knowns."  But this one thing's for sure: I hope to never allow the silencing of His voice again. I will strain to hear His heartbeat. I will strain to see what He is doing in the world. And I will pursue His purposes for me, seeking to align them with His activity in the world.

I'll leave you with one more quote from Mr. Keating:

"To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

So what of it? What will your verse be?



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