Free to Live
September 13, 2016
For the most part, I have been enjoying life. It's definitely a day-by-day mindset, but most days are pretty great. I love Miami. It's hot and traffic is crazy, but this place is beautiful. It was crazy, just the other morning I was out for a long run and I ran over this causeway looked down at the water only to see a stingray! Booya! How many people can say they were just out on their morning run when they saw a stingray? Pretty cool. It's small things like that that really allow me to appreciate this place. There are days I miss the hills and the woods, but I live in a place that looks like a jungle and I see all this wildlife I've never really seen before. I mean we see parrots on a daily basis. I've also grown to love the people (as long as they are not in a vehicle). There is such a wide range of people we engaged with on a daily basis. Everyone comes from a different background. They all have different perspectives on the world and everyone has different traditions and cultural habits. I love it. If you haven't figured out by now, I love people and I love to study them. It's so intriguing to me. But I think the thing I love most about living here is the fact I get to spend a significant amount of my time around people who don't know Jesus. Trust me, we have great friends who believe in Jesus that encourage us and support us, but I feel now more than ever I am living in the will of God.
So let me give you some context.
I am a perfectionist, as you should already know. Since I grew up it a pretty conservative background, I took everything pretty literally. That also meant I knew what it was to be good and what it was to be bad. I grew up in the church, so what did I try to be "the perfect christian". Yes, perfection was not just in school or sports, but especially as a "christian", even though I didn't really enter a relationship with Christ until I was a sophomore in college. For some reason, I have always been that kid who doesn't really care as much about what my peers think, I've been content with being a little different. But when it comes to approval, I've always always wanted those older than me in leadership positions to LOVE me. I cared more about what my parents, teachers, coaches and pastors thought about me than the kids my age. I wanted their approval and I wanted them to believe in me. I appreciate wisdom and experience, so that often gets me caring more about what those think who I think are wise and have a lot of experience. The thing that stuck with me a lot at church, was being "called to ministry". I thought that made you like the most hardcore Christian out there. I mean it's a lot of hard work and it seems like people in ministry are totally sold out to the mission of Christ. And let's be honest. There is this type of "praise" given to those students who say they are called to ministry. They are called out and given a lot more attention. So I thought that that must be what I have to do if I want to be a rockstar christian.
Time to change my thinking.
Here's the deal. It is just as much of a calling to be a teacher in the public school system and it is just as hard, if not harder. It takes just as many gifts and knowledge to be a CEO of a company as it does to be a head pastor. Not everyone can coach well at a gym or train clients one-on-one. It takes just as much creativity to be an entrepreneur as it does to create events at your church. It takes a specific skill set and training to be an engineer, just like seminary. These are all just as much of a calling as "church ministry". Better yet, they are just as important of ministries. They ARE MINISTRY. Man, I have more conversations with non-believers than I ever have in my life. For years I was trying to force myself into this certain role. I thought if I wanted to be an outstanding christian, in my mind I had to serve on staff at a church. It was sooooo hard. Not just because ministry is sooooo hard, but I felt so discontent. I felt like I was forcing myself into someone I wasn't. Oh, I wish I could go back and tell younger Jo to let go of what all her bosses and church leaders thought of her and focused on what Christ thought of her. For one, I have been clearly told what Christ thinks of me and two, I never could fully know what my bosses and pastors thought of me. Now, I don't have regrets, my decisions have shaped me to the woman God has intended, but it has been a long road to learn some of these simple things.
I wish I could tell all the students I worked with and tell them, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING! I am SOOOO PROUD of YOU!
You want to be a teacher?! AHHHH!!!! HOW INCREDIBLE!
I wish those students could see how important it is we have people in the workforce. That they are just as important as those serving on staff, because without them, who would come and who would bring those who don't know God? We need them. We need them serving in our local schools, in the dark neighborhoods, in the banks, in the engineering world, we need them. They are SOOO IMPORTANT. They are the church. Jesus didn't spend all of his time in the church building, but with the lost. He spent time with the broken, with the outcasts, with the everyday Joe, he had them over to dinner, he built relationships. But we are called to share God's love as we do these things. Man how good it has felt not to be stuffed in an office or honestly not huddled around believers all the time. Don't get me wrong, it's necessary to spend time with believers, hence we have the church. But it is so freeing to know I don't have to spend all my time with the same mindset and how incredible it is to share with others what God has done in me. That is freeing. That is humbling. That is amazing.
We want Jesus to set this city on fire for him. We want the world to know of his great love. But that's not going to happen if we just keep only hanging out with other believers. We are called to love the outcasts, the poor, the hungry, the needy, the broken and I am all of those, but I have redemption and restoration, I have Jesus. But what about those who are living in hopelessness? We can't save them, but we can share with them. What's so beautiful about the body of Christ, the church, is that we are all so different. We all have different callings and gifts, and we need them all to impact this world. Because I can tell you, I will not reach that super smart politician or that amazing fashion designer or that dad who just got divorced because I don't have those experiences or gifts. I can connect with that girl who loves to workout or that sweet soft-spoken person who likes to sit in the background. I can connect more to that young woman who just got married than to the CEO of a business. You know why? Because I am a young married woman, not a man. I am a coach, not a fashion designer. I am soft-spoken, not loud. I love health, not politics. And that's okay. I am made to be Johanna Rae Butler for a reason. I don't have to fit myself into some else's image. Let's be honest, I take burdens on way too heavily. I may not be that awesome pastor who can pray for others, give up their time, and fully give it to God. Okay! GREAT!
Embrace who God has made you to be. It's so freeing and you are able to live in so much more peace. You can live in the will of God. Don't run from what he has called you to and don't decide what he has called you to for yourself. Listen. Trust and obey. It's a great way to live.
With Love and Hugs,