On changing the world

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When I was a kid, I wanted to change the world. I wanted to stand out, do something great, make a difference, leave a legacy.  I wanted to be the next Jane Austen, Albert Einstein, George Washington, Corrie ten Boom. I wanted to go somewhere no one had ever been before and do something they all thought could never be done.

When I got older (and for perspective, when I say “older,” I’m seventeen now), I started to encounter what cynical adults would call “the real world.” Stress. Expectations. Responsibilities. Pressures. Anxiety. Broken relationships. Bitter people. The overwhelming magnitude of the world.

Because see, when you’re a kid, you are the center of your universe. Your sphere is confined to the few places and people you meet in your neighborhood and at school, in structured, organized environments. But as you mature, you start to realize that hey, there’s something bigger than me. The reality that there are billions of people in the world, each one as unique and faceted and complicated as you –it opens your mind to new wonders, but it can also start to wear on your dreams. Changing the world is a lot harder once the definition of “world” becomes something so overwhelming. Really, it’s not realistic to imagine that I’ll be an Elon Musk or a J.K. Rowling, not when there’s so many people who could do it so much better than me. Besides, there were other things to think about. There were things to be done and I was busy, busy, busy just trying to make it through puberty, for heavens’ sake.

But lately, I’ve been starting to think that maybe little-kid me had something right after all. Not that anyone a hundred years from now will know my name–maybe that isn’t really the goal. But maybe I can make a difference–and maybe that has less to do with the billions, and more to do with the twenty other students in my classroom right now.

Because when it comes to change–whether it’s through a powerful book or an incredible discovery or, heck, a viral video–it has nothing to do with any of those things in themselves; it’s about the effect they have on people. Real people. People with as complex and wonderful and mysterious and full a mind as you.

And maybe a better measure of success than the list of achievements on your resume or the trophies on your shelf or the number of people who know your name, is simply to focus on those right around you, and on what you can do to make their lives better, even the smallest of ways. I’m learning to love my family. My neighbors. My friends. Those are the things that really count. Maybe all it takes to change the world is just 10% more kindness. I never forgot that girl in front of me in line who paid for my coffee, even though I don’t know her name or her face.

To me, being young and twenty means you’re in the thick of things, the stresses and pressures and demands of life, but you still have the clear eyes to see what really matters. May you sow flowers wherever you step and learn to love unselfishly.

Blessings!
Bre

 

P.S. This post was also featured on Jennifer’s blog, BEING Young and Twenty! Thanks so much to Jennifer for this opportunity. You can also check out this post on her site by clicking here. Blessings!

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I have to wonder if it’s worth it, this busy life we lead.
If because of it we’re missing out, on what we really need.

I am so sick and tired of all of this, sometimes. Of all the running around, scrambling to get everything done, my mind split into a million pieces all wondering what’s next, losing the now as I stress over the next thing. How do I have time for it all? How do I get it done?

It’s a cultural phenomenon: we’re all becoming busier. I have so many different things pulling at my attention, I don’t know which way to turn. So many demands to be met, so many expectations to be reached, so many responsibilities to carry out, so many options tugging at my mind, so little time to do it all.

The simple thing would be just to say no to some of it, wouldn’t it? But no–I can’t do that. I don’t want to miss out.

Besides, I like it–don’t I?

Yeah! Yeah, I enjoy all the things I’m involved in–but I keep myself from fully enjoying them, because by the time I get there, I’m already stressing about how to fit in the next thing.

Imagine.

Just. Taking. The. Time. To. Breathe.

This craziness might also have to do with a major indecision in my life: namely, what I want to do with it. I am passionate about so many things…

Writing? Oh, yes, I have a passion for writing. I am absolutely and irrevocably in love with words, the beauty, the majesty, the music of them–of the English language–of all language. Oh, yes I have a passion for these written words. But…I also have a passion for the spoken word: for theatre, its lights and its drama. And I have a passion for the visual arts, the swirl of a paintbrush and the footprint it leaves behind. And I have a passion for science, for biology and genetics. For books with crinkled pages and people with smiling eyes and a world full of wonder waiting to be discovered, yes–I have a passion, for all of these, and above all I have a passion for my sweet and powerful Jesus. So really, you can’t blame me, for not knowing which way to go, not when there are so many beautiful options…

It doesn’t help, you know, the pressure from, well, everywhere, to know. I get asked it often: “Where are you going to college? What are you going to study? What career are you going to?” I’ve been being asked since FRESHMAN YEAR. It instates a kind of learned panic in me, now, the uncertainty of it, because the nature of the question implies that other people–they know. And if you don’t you’re behind.

And frankly, it’s hard, not knowing, because you don’t limit yourself. I’m involved in so many things, it’s hard to focus on just one. But really, should I have to?

My whole family is busy. Today alone there have been four different sports games people have had to get to. This week is tech week for my show (For those of you not familiar with theatre: tech week basically = chaos. At least in that it’s a very time-consuming process). So even when one of us has a moment–like me, this afternoon–the rest are out and about.

And there are times. My family, especially my parents, is actually really good at getting in quality time, something I really do appreciate–more than I act like it a lot of times, because I am so stressed. And it’s not fair that life is slipping away from me, and I feel weary already.

Isn’t this supposed to be the time when I’m at my peak, vibrant and full of life? No wonder more and more teenagers are developing anxiety disorders and depression. In fact, I’ve been there too. And if that’s you, right now, can I just take a second to encourage you: don’t give up. The fight’s not over yet. You’d be amazed at what can happen, if you just, keep, going, even when its hard. Especially when its hard. When it hurts. Those are the times, honestly, for me in my life, that I look back to, and that inspire me to keep going now. The times from which I learned the most. It’s a beautiful thing, restoration, redemption–so keep going. I want you to see it.

Because I know–some days, it feels like it will never end.

It would be nice if we could all just take a single day away from it all, all at once, all together. It would be nice, for a moment, to focus on each other, rather than the next thing on our to-do lists. Isn’t that what really matters?

This weekend was my mom’s birthday. Have I mentioned how amazing my mom is? I don’t know how she does it. If I’m half as good at parenting as she is, my kids will be lucky. But you know what? With rehearsals and schoolwork and projects and exams and tech week and commitments–I didn’t even make her a card. It slipped my mind, and I didn’t have time. But hey, I shot her a text, right? That’s something!

I don’t know. I just challenge you–this week, to take a moment to do something for someone else. Just something small. It’ll change their day. But even if it doesn’t–I guarantee it’ll change yours.

Just a thought.

–Bre

STRESSED?

Yeah, me too.

For those of you who missed the memo, it’s Holy Week. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ve been feeling anything but holy. The last few days, I’ve been under a lot of stress from in a lot of different areas of my life. Sadly, it not only leaves me frustrated, exhausted, and irritable, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like, oh, I don’t know, actually stopping to breathe?? Let alone prayer, meditation, Scripture. Or sleep, for that matter.

Once school let out, that helped. But it’s been a rough week, and things aren’t looking to let up anytime soon. I have a long list of things that worry me, of pressures I stagger under, of expectations I struggle to meet, of demands that gobble up my time, energy, and willpower. So much so that it wasn’t until Friday that I suddenly realized: this was the day that Jesus died.

This was the day that Jesus died.

What do you say to that? How do you respond? It’s so ironic that we call it “Good Friday,” when for anyone around when it happened, this was defeat.

The cross was not a symbol of hope, of victory, or of faith. The cross was a brutal instrument of torturous execution, and for anyone who believed in Jesus, it was a sign of hopelessness, of defeat, and of loss. It meant that the man who they thought would be the One had died, and they had lost everything.

They had given everything to follow Jesus. They had left their homes, their families, their livelihoods, their reputations, their possessions far behind. And now he was dead.

And no one would be surprised if they were next.

And think of Jesus. How false the cheers of the crowd must have felt on Palm Sunday, when he knew that the same ones would be calling for his crucifixion just a few days later. Even at the Last Supper, his disciples still didn’t get it. What it must have taken to wash Judas’ feet and hours later receive his condemning kiss. His cries to God in the garden, under so much pressure that he was sweating blood.

How long it took. Trial after trial, flogging after flogging, the mocking cries echoing in his ears before finally, they put him on the cross, and he hung for hours, slowly asphyxiating.

And it was finished. Finally, it was finished.

And death had won. Satan had won. The Son of God was dead.

What if that were the end of the story?

Thank God it wasn’t.

The ground began to shake, the stone was rolled away–his perfect love could not be overcome! Now death, where is your sting?? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!

Nothing makes Easter matter more than wondering what if it hadn’t happened. The resurrection was bold, defiant, and triumphant. Christ has overcome! We have overcome! In the moment when all seemed lost–out of that came the whole point.

The resurrection is not a moment of “yay, Jesus is alive, clap-clap-clap, let’s go eat chocolate eggs!” No, the resurrection is a moment of power, when God showed once and for all who is in control. It’s a moment of defiance, of the powers of darkness that hold this world captive. The resurrection is not an event by itself–it’s powerful because Jesus. Was. Dead. Death is final. But…he is alive! Unstoppable, unfathomable, unbeatable love, standing tall in a white fire.

It’s humbling. And it’s awe-inspiring. It’s insane, really, that he should love me that much. I know I sure don’t deserve it, not me.

The disciples didn’t know he would rise again. Now he’s left us–but again, it is not forever. He’s coming back. Do you believe it?