Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Insecurity Articulated

I want, with desperate passion, to matter. I want my life to mean something. I want to change the course of my neighbor's life by helping her get custody of her grandchild. I want to write and publish books before I turn 30. I want to be a teacher so that I can change the lives of my students by illuminating their minds, iron-cladding their confidence and unleashing their passions and potentials upon a world that expects ordinary. I fear and hate the idea of being remembered as ordinary, of being forgotten, of not building something that will still be around in 100 years. I crave significance like a smoker craves nicotine. I revel in the thought that I've improved the world. I find exhilaration in knowing I've been instrumental in preventing at least one suicide. I am deflated again by the memory of a suicide I could not prevent.

In school I never wanted to be an exemplary student because the students who focused on achievement were too busy to effect their environments. I always thought that the most studious, hard working students were being duped into irrelevance by allowing their self-worth to be attached to the points of a rubric. I always did my best to learn everything I could from a class without studying to pass someone else's test. I wanted to be smarter than the smartest students, and I wanted to show it by NOT getting A's, joining honor societies, or making Dean's lists. I wanted to show it by saving lives, enriching souls, and freeing spirits.

Whatever the best possible pursuit is, that is what I want to put my hand to. I want to master Tai Chi so that I can have a calm, powerful mind to counsel with, and a quiet power with which to defend the weak. I want to cook with the inspiration and cunning of James Beard, because I know that food is a universal language and I secretly hope that a perfect cup of coffee can change the direction of a man, family, or nation.

I have a friend who's story I have promised in writing never to publish. Though she goes unnamed, I will say that she brought the written word to a nation that had never known it, and brought a tribe of cannibals into the kingdom of God by putting the New testament into their language.

She is the most significant person I can imagine, and I strive to not live in the fear of being nothing like her. I fear insignificance. I fear an impotent life. I also know that a life of fear is likely to be a powerless, self-destructive life. I am therefore left to ask myself, what mindset can I take on, what cause will I champion, what is of real importance that I can pursue fearlessly and without insecurity? What should I be? The Pastor? The literature teacher? The Youth Minister? The Father? The brother? Author, business owner, CEO, lawyer, warrior, poet, counselor . . .

The people who have had the greatest shaping and illuminating impact on me are a Bible translator, several literature teachers, a youth minister, a Boy scout leader, a Tai Chi instructor, two parents, and a handful of authors.

What unifies these individuals is that they all performed their role as a service and worship to God, with the exception of one teacher and a few authors who glorified God inadvertently through their wisdom, integrity, and generosity.

My prayer is that God makes me like them. I want to speak with the words of God; I want to illuminate the world. I do not know how best to do it, what role to take or job to hold, but I rest assured in my [very Lutheran] belief that God will accomplish his work in spite of me. My role is to yield to the Holy Spirit's movement, to fall deeper in love with the God of love and to gush that love every day of my life until it kills me. Dead to my own ambitions, I can live without fear, knowing that my significance shall be eternal, and no consequence of my own action as Christ shows through me and carries unto completion the work began in me.


  1. I feel the exact same way. I fear that I will never accomplish anything in my life sometimes. That I won't change anyone's life on any significant level. Thanks for putting it into words so clearly!

  2. Once again, David, you have spoken so clearly to how much of an influence you have been on me. And to reiterate, you once were a reason why I did not commit suicide. Thanks, and Blessings to you and your pursuit of God and spirit-yeildedness.


  3. David,thank you.
    Thank you and thank you again.

    You and many others are in a period of confusing transition. School prepares one for an exciting career, but not for daily life outside of school. Even though I regard you very highly, I did not expect your conclusion to be so entirely wonderful and right-on. I have read and re-read your last paragraph and continue to be inspired.
    Keep writing!

  4. David, I am smiling because in writing what you did, you are fighting that monster you have named "insignificance". Your words have moved others, inclduing me, and that is significant.

    It is not just a challenge to be significant, but also to define what significance means. I think we often only see significance in hindsight. We do what we do and later someone tells us how important it was for them. So then, how can we be significant if we don't even know what it is until after it happens? I believe if we are doing God's will, we are being significant because he is using us as part of his plan. A plan so great that we often don't recongnize the importance of our part because we see such a small portion.

    Keep following God. Jump through the doors he opens. Walk away from the ones he closes. Look for what he is doing and be part of it. If you do that, you will be significant, rest assured.



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