This morning I watched a little video of Jen Hatmaker (because I’m reading For the Love and I apparently just can’t get enough) wherein she talked about how self-criticism breeds others-criticism. She talked about how we tend to pretend ourselves on the internet as a little more put together than we actually are and we see others doing the same and we assume that their life is actually that clean and do-it-yourself and in turn we assume we are failing. She talked about how vulnerability is courageous and it is love and it has the power to change our society.
This weekend I visited a friend in Santiago. She taught at Las Palmas for the last two years (and before that did other Dominican teachy loving-kids things for other years) and is now teaching at Santiago Christian School. She talked about how her experiences in this country have all been vastly different – from the countryside where power outages were routine and outhouses were common, to San Pedro were things seemed so big and developed in comparison to the countryside, and now to Santiago where San Pedro just kind of seems lame (but still beloved!). She talked about how one could come to Santiago Christian School as a first year teacher, first time to the DR, and never know anything about the outhouses in the countryside or the power outages in San Pedro. And unfortunately my first instinct was criticism.
Too often I look at myself and my life and am just so darn sure I am not doing enough churchy things to be qualified as a missionary. That I’m not really doing this life right or well or best. That I need to be in more relationships with more Dominicans. That I need to spend less money and eat less McDonalds. That I need to stop complaining when the power goes out and just deal with it. That I need to do all these things in order to be good enough. Which is the exact kind of self-criticism our girl Hatmaker was talking about on that video and I saw first hand, in myself, how that can so easily lead to others-criticism.
The awesome thing about our God is that He uses everyone (which just so happened to be the exact message of a sermon in Santiago this weekend). He desires me right now just as I am and just as I am He has big plans for my life. Plans that are already in action, unfolding, and being accomplished. His plans as He’s revealed to me are as follows: teach the children about love, show the children love, know me more, write what you know.
His plans as He’s revealed to the teachers in Santiago and the teachers in England and the mamas in Haiti and the bus drivers in the Dominican Republic and the pastors in the United States and the farmers in Africa are not His plans for me. Our God is not a cookie cutter God.
When I was student teaching in Paraguay I met a woman named Jenny. The plans God has for her are to teach expats and missionary kids. To do that well in Paraguay, she did not need to be fluent in Spanish, so she wasn’t. Her time and her energy were spent elsewhere, fulfilling the plans that God has for her life.
The thing I’m learning is that nobody’s calling is better or cooler than anybody else’s. That in order to know that deep down in the part of me that casts out others-critcism, I have to know that my calling, my purpose, and my plans are more than good enough. I have to trust that my daily obedience is exactly what God wants from me and asks of me. I have to be confident in my calling. What do I need to love the children He’s placed in front of me? I need Spanish. I need patience. I need creativity. So I foster these things. These are not the same things a midwife in Haiti needs. We don’t all need all the things.
In order to kill the self-critcism/others-criticism cycle, I have to know that I am enough. I am enough, not because of me, but because God said I’m enough. The friend I visited in Santiago this weekend has “Beloved” tattooed on her wrist as a reminder of exactly who and what she is. Beloved. Cared for. Planned for. Purposeful. Enough.