“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a planner; I’m much more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of person. With my preference to keep my options open, there is one particular question that has always deflated my go-with-the-flow balloon:
“So, what do you want to do after you graduate?”
WOMP WOMP WOMP (I really don’t know the proper spelling here, but imagine that noise you hear in a cartoon when the character is about to go play with her friends, but her mom stops her and tells to do her homework first).
Why would this be “womp womp womp” worthy? After all, the person asking the question is showing a polite interest in my life! Well, I’ll tell you why: because, in all honesty, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. It doesn’t help that this inquiry is trailed by a few all-too-familiar follow-up questions, such as:
“Where are you going to live?”
“Any special guys who are going to be part of the picture?”
Unfortunately, yelling, “IDK” is not a socially acceptable answer, so I had to get creative. I used to have a memorized standard personal PR statement I issued upon receiving such questions:
“I’ve been testing out a few different internships to see what is the best fit, but something in the communication field; whether that is broadcasting, marketing, or public relations is still up in the air, but I’ll decide once I compare my internship experiences.”
This usually garnered a lot of approval from others, but it felt pretty insincere every time it rolled off my tongue. One day, after praying about a direction for my future, I was browsing my school’s homepage, when the school mission statement caught my eye:
I had heard this statement a thousand times, but this time, it took on new meaning. My half-hearted response to questions about my future was indicative of a scary truth: My heart was not in the career path I claimed to pursue.
I was not prompted to invest in any of the jobs I had once wanted, and the lack of sincerity in my response proved it. How could I offer my whole heart to a line of work toward which my heart was no longer invested? How could I establish any future plans if I wasn’t passionate about moving forward with them?
At Calvin, we love to talk about Abraham Kuyper’s idea that every square inch of the earth belongs to God, but He gives each person their own inch to pour their gifts and passions into.
For example, Steph Curry’s square inch is in the sporting world. As a talented basketball player who loves the game, he uses his platform as an athlete to give the media a glimpse of what it looks like to live a life for Jesus during a time when Christians are making the news for fussing over Starbucks cups.
Now picture if Curry decided to pursue a 9 to 5 job that seemed “safe,” even though his heart wasn’t in it. The world would have missed out on delighting in the entertainment provided by an athlete who uses his gifts and his love for the game to glorify God! We would have missed out on the way he serves as a role model to other young people who want to know what it looks like to be in a Christ-centered marriage.
No one else can fill Steph Curry’s square inch, because he is the only person who was created with the gifts, life experiences, personality traits, and passions necessary to fulfill the assignment that was given to him.
Now, everyone has a different square inch, and everyone has a different platform, so this square inch won’t look the same for everyone; it won’t even look the same throughout the progression of our own lifespan. Even though Steph Curry is a basketball player right now, that will not be his career his whole life, but when that career ends, his purpose in life won’t disappear.
That’s because we aren’t defined by our careers. While we make quite a production about finding the perfect job, establishing yourself in a career is not the end goal. One day, that career will end–and if that’s where your sense of purpose is nested–so will your purpose.
With the realization that my life is not defined by what I do to make a living, I started praying that God would show me where to offer my heart. I prayed that God would help guide me as I tried to find my “square inch.”
And guess what…
After a lot of prayer while searching for my vocation, the answer came through a past conversation I had with my dad; though this conversation took place last year, it wasn’t until this fall that its value appeared to me.
At the time of the discussion, I was complaining to my dad, telling him that I didn’t know what to do with my life, because I didn’t have talents that were as flashy or obvious as some of my friends and family members.
“Some people are extremely athletic or artistic or musical or hilarious, but I don’t really have any specific strength that sticks out.”
My dad gave me a confused look, “Sure you do; it’s your ability to love others.”
I shook my head, “That’s not a special strength, Dad…anyone can do that.”
“That’s not true. Kindness is not natural to everyone. Not everyone can care about others the way that you do. Kelly, the only reason it seems easy to you is because it’s such a part of the way you’re wired. Think about all the time you spend showing other people that they are valuable and appreciated. You’re passionate about people, and loving them is your gift.”
This realization gave me that serendipitous, floaty feeling you get when you open a Christmas gift you really wanted, but never thought you’d actually receive, or when you discover that the person who gives you butterflies has a crush on you.
This floaty feeling came from way more than an answered prayer; it was the beginning of my ability to notice glimpses of God’s faithfulness surfacing as things finally began to fall into place.
I began to notice how my favorite part of every job I have taken had always circled back to making others feel valued; asking those I served at Russ’ to tell me about their grandkids while I filled their coffee cups, complimenting my photographers’ creative processes during modeling gigs, or putting people at ease before they went on-camera during my WOTV internship.
My greatest passion rested in making people feel valued, whether that was through pointing out their gifts, encouraging them, or lending a listening ear. I found the most joy in any moment that let me extend love to others in the ways they needed it.
This realization has certainly shaped my post-college career plans; I recently applied to grad school to Master in Marriage and Family Therapy. After a lot praying and listening, I know this is where I can fuse my passion for families and relationships with my gifts for helping others to be seen and understood. While this next step in discovering what I want to do after college is an important part of the course my life will take, my new post-college plan is much bigger than that.
My new post-college plan makes me excited for the future rather than fearful. My post-college plan has prepared me with a much more substantial answer to give to the next person who asks me what I want to do after I graduate:
I am going to love others wherever and however it is needed, to encourage and support others others so they can confidently pursue their passions. That is my passion, and that is my gift, but more importantly, that’s how I can best offer my heart, promptly and sincerely…and that is my square inch.