Does God Want Mediocrity for Me?

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Unpacking boxes after our recent move, I spotted a long-forgotten envelope. On it, I had written my parents’ home address in pencil. Unfolding the paper from the envelope, I remembered sprawling out on the carpeted floor of our church youth room with twenty other teenagers, scribbling out our goals on church letterhead paper. Our youth pastor instructed us to write out one-month, one-year, five-year and twenty-year goals for our lives.

Life was so easily scripted back then: graduate from high school and college, get a job, get married, have kids. My twenty-year goals were less radical than I remembered: “be married (to a Christian), have kids, never smoke, work (a Christian occupation).” In that order.

Somewhere along the way in my journey as a Christian, dynamic youth pastors, college group leaders, and passionate preachers expanded my list of life goals. They added: “Be radical. Don’t settle or sell out. God has a special plan for your life. Be different. Follow/answer/find the call. Step out in faith. Don’t waste your life.”

When I was 16, I walked the aisle to give my life to God in missions, even if it meant surrendering my dreams for marriage and children. I was ready to go, even if it meant dying in a jungle somewhere or at the very least becoming weirder and weirder as I adapted to a world so different from my own. I accepted an application to attend a Christian college and begin my journey as a world changer. Or so I thought.

An article recently made the rounds on social media that bothered me. Three of my friends from different spheres of life shared it on Facebook, causing me to bristle each time. It was called “What If All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” Published in January of 2016, as of now it has 614 comments and has been shared 284,000 times on Facebook. The article gives permission to scale back Big Dreams to small, now-type of living. It is simple and beautiful, but my internal red flags still waved furiously.

I am an adventure junkie. I thrive on the thrill of newness and change. As a thrill-seeker, I assume the next step must be the hard one. I live in fear of selling out. Words like “mediocre” profane my world changer’s identity and sense of purpose.

There’s a tendency to mix up God’s will with our next great adventure. But I’ve learned a few things since lounging on the youth room floor over twenty years ago and later following the “call” to go overseas. I now sway to the cadence of life’s seasons with a bit more finesse. I side with Solomon who touts the times for everything.

There are times in life for living large and striding into scary places, taking risks and striking out into new lands. New love interests, jobs and cities terrify and excite us equally. Thrills and drama, waves and splendor, flood our veins with purpose and momentum. We are new graduates, new brides, new mothers, new residents, new employees, new empty nesters or new retirees. But new morphs into old and we yearn for new again.

Most of life is lived to the tune of small and stable. Seasons switch with a blink and we adapt to the clothing, climate and rhythm of days chained together by monotony. I think the author advertising her desire to live a mediocre life is in one of those seasons. And if I’m honest, I am, too. These are the long days of commuting to the same job in the same town with same people. We are students, nurses, assistants, teachers or stay-at-home moms. We grocery shop, pump gas, sweep the floor and call our mothers on the phone. If we are married, we send sexy text messages like, “Heading back!” and “Can you pick up some milk at the store?”

But I still don’t believe God wants us to live mediocre lives. Perhaps it’s all a matter of semantics and “mediocre” is the wrong term. Perhaps she should have used the word “ordinary” or “simple.” But mediocrity means “of only moderate quality” or “not very good.” Nowhere does the Bible say “be mediocre” or “your life with God will be of only moderate quality.”

Instead, Jesus invites us to quench our thirst in wells of living water that never dry up. He calls us to wonder, delight, compassion, and transformation. We are to pray continually and tune in to the special station of Spirit whispers. We are to love wildly—even when it is undeserved. The Bible speaks of abundant, extravagant, never failing, never ending, powerful love that transcends time, space, matter, failings and fallings. Jesus used ordinary objects like seeds, soil, bread, wine, wheat, water, vines, branches, and human bodies as symbols of the sacred. We are kingdom people living in a kingdom that is not yet.

Our realities are the usual things—our routines, structure and to-do lists. But God is always looking for ways to poke holes in our normal lives where God’s light can burst through. God doesn’t do mediocrity, but God does do mystery in the monotony—if we are paying attention.

 

 

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Leslie Verner
I am a goer who is learning how to stay. I’ve traveled all over the world and lived in northwest China for five years before God U-turned my life and brought me back to the U.S. to get married to an actor in Chicago. I’m a former middle school teacher, mama to three little ones and like American cuisine the least. I currently live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and write regularly about faith, justice, family and cross-cultural issues at Scraping Raisins.
Leslie Verner
Leslie Verner

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