When you’re struggling to stay

by Erin Salmon

IMG_0173For the past several years, I have struggled tremendously to find my place in the world.

I thought I would figure it out when I went to Bible college, and while those years were the best of my life thus far, the textbooks never told me what I was supposed to do with my life. The daily chapel services offered little help in my quest to find out what my true meaning and purpose was. Sure, I had chosen a major and worked hard to complete my coursework, but I never quite found the prescription I was looking for.

I’ve battled long and hard with comparison. See, I am surrounded by the most beautiful people on a daily basis: people who are passionate about ending slavery and sex trafficking, people who minister to lost souls in the ghettos of Atlanta, who hold the hands of refugees and travel to distant corners of the earth, forsaking the privilege and comfort of North America in order to bring the most basic of those comforts to children with distended bellies and dusty bare feet. Some of my best friends are church planters and worship leaders and youth ministers. Even my husband is consistently praised for his amazing work on our church’s tech team.

And I have never felt called to any of that. In fact, the closest I’ve come to participating in foreign mission work is the pair of TOMS shoes I’m wearing today.

Maybe you see my dilemma.IMG_0176I’ve always been told that I am good at encouraging others, and deep down, I get incredible joy from watching other people excel in their passions as a result of my encouragement. And while my friends are champions of building each other up, I lament that most of the time I feel unworthy of their uplifting because I believe that my life does not hold as much significance and meaning as theirs. After all, they are going, and I am staying behind. At times, it has been easier to hide.

What I’m finding is that none of us are called to a life of hiding — but some of us are called to a life of staying. And just as it takes a strong person to pack up their lives and plant a church in another state or province or country, it takes an equally strong person to stay behind. Both are significant callings, meaningful ways to spend a life.

Recently, I have felt a tug on my heart towards hospitality. So I put on a brave face and created a Facebook event, inviting a small group of women over to our little house for finger food and fellowship. I wrote down a list of conversation points, opportunities to share what God is doing in each of our lives. And as the day grew closer, I have to admit, I was feeling nervous. At times, I was certain that no one would show up, or worse yet, they would show up and the bean dip would be cold and we would all just sit around twiddling our thumbs. Sure enough, as I was putting the chocolate chip cookies into the oven, four beautiful women pulled into the driveway.IMG_0182We ate and laughed and shared our joys and our worries, and together we worshipped a God who delights in accomplishing immeasurably more. I had spoken of what immeasurably more looked like for me in this season of my life: ministering to women through writing and speaking and opening my home, creating an environment where authenticity matters more than efficiency and nothing is ever wasted.

I dared to go out on a limb, and there it was, immeasurably more happening right in front of my eyes. And when they left, not only did I feel filled, but I found that I was fulfilling the purpose that I believe God has given me.

So I challenge us, shaky though we may be, to keep going out on limbs. Refuse to desecrate your calling and someone else’s calling by feeding the beast of comparison. Because no matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you may feel today, it takes guts to stay.


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Erin is a twentysomething clinger to grace, whose heartbeat is to create space for you to come just as you are. Erin and her husband live in Georgia, where they are actively involved in local ministry. She would love nothing more than to connect with you at erinsalmonwrites.com or on Twitter @erinmsalmon.


 

 

Comments

  1. Tracy says

    Erin , I know it gets old but such profound words !! From struggling to allowing God to Bloom you where you are Oh ya !!! You are a beautiful rose in full bloom !!! Thank you for these real and raw words !!! Love and appreciate you

    • Erin Salmon says

      Tracy, your encouragement never gets old! You always know just what to say to lift a girl up. Thank you for these words. 🙂

  2. says

    Awesome, awesome words. Thank you for acknowledging the struggle, and the blessing, in the slow acceptance of staying when it seems that everyone else has an immediate calling to go.

  3. Karla Messenger says

    What an awesome expression of truth! I too have felt the exact thing – praying to our most Gracious God, surely you made a mistake when you chose me and saved me?! I do nothing for your kingdom, not anything like my heart desires……..but I know His purpose for me lies just beyond the horizon and I must keep pressing on – towards whatever it is…..knowing that His will is my purpose, whether it be a small insignificant gesture of kindness or just a whatever encouragement He wants me to give.

    Thanks for posting as I dare to live this Year without Fear with you.

    • Erin Salmon says

      Thanks for being real here, Karla. I’m with you. I struggle to know that all of this is meaningful, that it is for a purpose. But don’t discount your calling. You can expand the kingdom by being awesome at scanning groceries, changing diapers, painting, going overseas, or whatever you do! God is not just present and powerful in the things that seem grand. He is near and working in that which seems small, too. Love to you.

  4. Audrey Pache says

    i am 58 and have felt this way my whole life and only recently I feel God has been using me to be a friend for those who could just need someone to lend an ear and a smile. He does this through teaching crochet at the local library. I am about to move across country to live with my daughter in California and my prayer is that God would show me the opportunities to share my life and talents there also.

    • Erin Salmon says

      Thank you so much for your honesty here, Audrey. I often think of Paul, who wrote in Philippians that even he had not arrived, and it gives me peace — to think that he, who saw Christ face to face and preached the gospel even while he was in prison chains, didn’t think he had arrived. And I truly believe that it is never too early or too late to hear the call of God on your life. Praying with you as you move to California! Collect a bit of that sunshine for me.

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