My Capstone Seminar class in college was geared to prepare graduating students for the graduated life. It strongly pushed students to pursue their strengths and find jobs related to their strengths so that they could most effectively make an influence and change the world around them. If you play to your strengths, you will change the world. I wanted that.
Let me be honest for a minute. I’m not enjoying my life right now. I’m regularly frustrated with work. I can go through the motions, but it’s normally with a huge dose of apathy. Dad says it’s culture shock of starting up a new job–it’s expected and normal. He says it just takes a while to go through and to adjust. He says to give myself grace.
And I’m trying to.
But often those of us who grew up in Christian environments are too hard on ourselves. We tell ourselves that if we’re truly serving God, if we’re truly resting in what he has for us, if we’re truly using the strengths he’s given us, we should be overflowing with the joy of the Lord, our smiles alone should be bringing others to Christ, and we should be changing the world.
In my heart, then, I believe that if my life isn’t joyful, passionate, world-changing, I’m doing something wrong. I’m not leaning on God as I should be. I’m not serving him like I should be. I’m missing the link between doing God’s will and experiencing his joy.
But this self-infliction of shame isn’t what God wants for us. Galatians 5:1 states “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” My dear fellow Christians, please (please!) let’s be very cautious about the way we set our own expectations and the expectations of others.
There is joy in knowing the Lord. There is indescribable hope. I’ve experienced it. But faith is not a feeling. Let’s neither expect nor give the impression to others to expect that, if we are “doing Christianity right,” we will be living the dream, working the perfect job, or making ourselves who we want to be.
It is always a good life choice to pursue God–there is joy is doing so. But know that your current happiness–or unhappiness–in life is not an indicator of how sincere your relationship with Christ is.