“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are…” e.e. cummings
This summer I took my little nephews to see Pixar’s Monsters University — the prequel to Monsters, Inc. The movie was lots of fun! But what I really loved were the profound life lessons wrapped up in the story that so many kids (and even some grownups) desperately need today. Lessons about discipline and determination, faith and courage.
Especially the courage to face some hard truths. And then figure out where to go from there.
This is not the message our kids are usually fed (“Believe whatever you want, and if you believe hard enough, it will become true for you”).
But it’s one they really, really need.
Mike and Sulley meet at Monsters University, where they both aspire to be “scarers” — monsters who hide under beds or in closets and frighten children, to get them to scream — because screams power monster cities, like electricity powers ours. (Later, they discover laughter is even more powerful!)
These are the hard truths the two monsters discover on their journey:
1) Sulley learns that being gifted isn’t enough. Coming from a prominent family with a rich heritage isn’t enough. Being popular and well-liked isn’t enough. If you want to succeed, you’ve gotta work hard. You’ve got to develop your skills, your gifts and talents. You’ve got to practice. You need character and integrity, diligence, discipline and determination.
The same is true for us… remember the Parable of the Talents? (Matthew 25:14-30) We’re called, we’re chosen, we’re gifted. But we’re also responsible to take what we’ve been given and make the most of it, for His kingdom and glory.
2) Mike learns that you can have a dream, you can work really hard and believe in yourself with all your might, but (to quote coach Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire): “You can’t put in what God’s left out.” If it’s not your gift, it just won’t work for you. If it’s not God’s dream — His plan, His purpose — for you, it will not happen. No matter how much you believe.
You have to figure out who God created YOU to be, what He has uniquely gifted you to do — what is His calling on your life — and pursue THAT dream wholeheartedly. (See Psalm 139, 1 Corinthians 12)
It takes a lot of courage, especially when the process requires you to lay down your long-cherished dreams and let them die.
I’ve been there!
But there’s also great freedom in it. As you find and pursue your new dreams — God’s dreams for you — there is hope and joy and peace.
And it’s when you are boldly living as the incredibly unique and amazingly talented woman you were created to be, that you really shine!
I spent the last week in South Carolina at Allume — a conference of 450 Christian women bloggers, many of whom are still trying to find their voice, figure out where their gifts and talents lie, and how best to use them. That’s why they came.
I had a bunch of conversations with women who are battling fear as they step out in faith and answer God’s call. I shared that I had learned to overcome a lot of my own fear and doubt and insecurity by focusing on the women God has called me to reach, rather than on my “performance” — how well I’ll be received.
And that’s a huge part of it, for sure. But there’s another reason that when I sit down to write a book or turn on my mic and climb up on the platform, I’m not as anxious as you might expect me to be. There’s another source of courage for me.
To quote Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell (also in Chariots of Fire), “I know God made me for a purpose — for China. He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure!”
When I write, when I speak, when I use the gifts and talents God has given me, when I live out HIS dream, His calling, His purpose for me …
I feel His pleasure.
In that moment, there’s nothing I’d rather do. There’s no one I’d rather be.
If you’re a mom or grandmom, an aunt, a teacher, children’s church worker or youth leader, join me on Thursday (Halloween) for a special post: Helping Kids Face Their Fears.