Jerry Falwell died before I was able to ask him my question.
It really is unfortunate since there’s a part of me that still is slightly perturbed at him. It wasn’t just his flippant statements post 9-11 or his rash opinions of the TeleTubbies, or even the fact that his reputation made me feel uncomfortable whenever someone asked me where I went to college. It’s the fact that every Wednesday for my entire college career Jerry spoke at our convocation, compelling us to Go A Little Farther AND DO SOMETHING BIG FOR GOD. Of course, at the time, Jerry was expanding Liberty University’s campus across the interstate and was renovating his church to accommodate the growing crowd, so it was only normal that my perceptions of what he meant by “big” would be skewed by his epic projects.
Chapel would end and 6,000 students would file out of the Vines Center where our service was held. I would sit with my journal, writing out prayers to God, dreaming of how my life would be spent doing things as big as Jerry (no pun intended).
Fast forward to 2012. A friend and I were talking recently, recounting how much our job as a stay-at-home mom involved cleaning up fecal matter. Granted, she was potty training her puppy and two-year old at the time, so perhaps her perspective was a little skewed, but I thought of our conversation today as my baby had seven poopy diapers. In a row. This same friend, however, had–from a young age– been an accomplished musician and had been told the same thing her whole childhood: “You are going to do big things with your life.” BIG THINGS. The biggest thing she claims she now accomplishes is getting a shower that is long enough to shave BOTH legs. I felt I could relate.
Okay, I need to pause right here and interject: Yes, I realize that raising my children to know and love God IS a big thing in the grand scheme of life. However, I am not naturally a “big-picture” thinker and tend to get bogged down in the daily grind, forgetting the larger landscape. Motherhood is a NOT small task…It is a BIG task made up of MANY tiny pieces and details that are easy to get lost in. In the trenches sometimes the vision gets a little fuzzy.
Jerry Falwell died on May 15, 2007. I cried when I heard the news and I didn’t even know why. I never got to ask him what he meant. I never got to hear him clarify what exactly it meant to do something BIG for the Kingdom of God.
I never got to hear him qualify his opinion with a, “Well, of course it is a big thing to stay at home and raise children.” I never got to push back with a “How can you SAY that? DO you know what it FEELS like to wake up every day and be lucky enough to get a bra on by noon?” I never got to hear him defend his position on motherhood and home-making…but I guess I don’t really need him to.
It’s not his fault. He was just doing his job of inspiring young people to follow Jesus and dream big, but 10 years after graduation, I often feel I’m just doing the things necessary for basic survival instead of changing the world.
When I begin to feel this way, I have to speak truth to myself and it usually goes something like this:
But, Annie, if you think about it, can any of us really tell whether or not we are doing “big things” with our lives? When we think of doing something significant, we usually think of things that are validated or recognized by others. But truly big…like, ETERNAL big…things are not measured like that. Doesn’t the Bible say that the the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are unseen are eternal? That means it’s possible for us to be doing things with our lives that ripple into eternity…but not ever know it here on earth.
Good point, logical Annie. I guess I need to go forward not concerned so much about the depth,breadth, and weight of my accomplishments, but rather focused on being faithful with the tasks God has put in front of me. Even if that means seven poopy diapers, feeding ungrateful kids, or cleaning a floor that gets dirty nanoseconds later. I need to trust that faithfulness is BIG ENOUGH for God. After all, if it’s all for Him, none of these feelings should even matter. I should just submit myself to God and let Him use me as He sees fit… to accomplish whatever HE wants to accomplish.
Even if (right now) that is merely keeping everyone’s tooshes clean.