Germany is really freaking cool. From the Biergartens, to the cobblestoned alleyways, to the whimsical architecture and lush, green countryside, Germany cast a spell on me. Thinking back to the trip that was almost three weeks ago, it seems like it didn’t even really happen.
Did I really lead a team of young adults by myself halfway across the world? Did my team really look up to me? Did I really lead well?
I can tell you without an ounce of doubt in my voice that the answer to those questions is a resounding YES.
I did well, and I say that unashamedly.
The past year has been like drinking from a fire hose when it comes to leadership. I have been trying to figure out what it means to be a good leader and this is where I’ve landed so far… I’m a natural leader, but I’m young and I still have a lot to learn from those around me. There is so much knowledge to be gleaned from the older, wiser, and more qualified people around me. Leadership requires a healthy balance of humility and confidence. It also requires a constant building up of those around you, those who are seeking and learning. Good leaders make those who follow them as great or greater than they are and they rejoice in that.
Look around, who are the leaders? Who challenges you? Get around those people and start asking questions.
Okay, tirade over. Let’s fast forward to where I’m at now that I’m back from my trip.
I returned from Germany feeling pretty good about myself, honestly. I had trusted God, He had shown up, He gave me a taste of what I’m capable of when I’m truly walking with Him. It was amazing. I walked in to work on Monday (the first day of my new leadership position) with my head held high.
That’s how I felt… for about 24 hours. The voices quickly started creeping back in. You can’t do anything good. All that affirmation in Germany was bullshit. Those people don’t like you. The comparison voices started gaining volume – she’s better, he’s better, they’re better. You know what perfection looks like and you’ll never get there. Everyone is obnoxious, isolate yourself, no one understand you.
Just give up and give in to who you really are.
Those voices get LOUD fast when you get really away, take a breath and then come back to the crazy-business of your daily life. The peace and freedom of being somewhere totally different with completely different people made coming back a lot harder this time. The contrast between who I was in Germany and who I am in my day-to-day life in Colorado was stark. Coming back, I knew how bogged down I really was. So I started asking myself, why and how did I let this happen?
I think I let my world get really small.
I let it get small enough that my security and stability hung in the balance of a few relationships. If one thing was to go wrong there, then everything was wrong. It was the same people, the same places, and the same hedonistic lifestyle every day. It was monotonous and comfortable and I loved every minute of it.
Comfort can be a dangerous thing when mixed with monotony for me, it breeds boredom. It’s a delicate balance, but if I’m not careful my boredom can breed laziness which in turn causes a lack of contentment. Before I know it, that lack of contentent means a lack of fulfillment and worthiness in my God. My little world brought me there.
But God doesn’t call us to live in the little worlds we create for ourselves. It’s impossible to sustain it if we’re truly following Him.
God is always calling us out. He calls us to move, to serve Him, to do work for His Kingdom. We are missing out if we allow ourselves to construct our little worlds. God has more, so much more in store for us.
God is beginning to speak in my life in really big, scary, awesome ways.
He’s saying – trust me. No really, Rachel, go there – I will be with you.
He’s saying – be angry, it’s okay. Come to me with your anger and your baggage and I will not only give you grace when you need to feel it, but I will be faithful in helping you unpack the heavy pack you’ve carrying around.
He’s saying – I am breaking things apart for you right now, but I will heal, I will bind up those gaping wounds that are crippling you right now.
God was always saying these things to me, but what’s changing is me. I’m starting to really believe this stuff; and when you believe in something, you’re naturally more motivated to take action. You start to move.
I’m starting to move.
I’m praying bigger prayers and taking steps forward where I really don’t know the outcome. It’s scary, it’s big, and it’s exactly what I think God wants for me – and maybe for you.
God is blowing my world up right now (with some help from me). I’m in pieces, but all the crap I used to use to bind myself together is also in pieces. I’m unstable because the little world I had created doesn’t exist anymore. As good as it felt, I’m glad it’s over and I never want to go back.
I think when we allow God to work on that level in our lives, it forces us to let our worlds get big. It creates space to dream and create and move.
My prayer is this: that God would bind up my heart free from the crap I’ve used to hold it together for far too long. I pray that he makes my world big again.
“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you.” Job 5:17-19
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
What part of your world is little? What parts does God need to help you to let go of? Can you ask Him to help you do it?