By Sylvia McCallum
As a proud and patriotic Army brat, my family and I moved every two to four years growing up. Along this roadway of moving vans, I developed this nasty habit we like to call people-pleasing. Every time we would move, I would HAVE to make friends (and lots of them) as quickly as possible. Though I had made the decision to trust in Christ for salvation, and my family and church provided me with a solid Christian foundation, I still found my worth in what other people thought of me.
More of Me and Less of God
My extreme self-focused glorification carried on to college. I continued to feel that as long as I had lots of friends who loved me, did well in school, and had God as my “foundation” then I was living IT. I had mastered some formula of a whole lot of me and proportionally less of God. I wasn’t in God’s Word, so this also led to believing the lies college tells you about partying and relationships with guys in general.
It wasn’t until I, on a whim, attended my first Passion conference in Atlanta my collegiate senior year, graduated, and moved to Dallas that I begin to realize how much God desires to be much more than my foundation.
No More Distractions
It is often said that “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, God knew how much I valued the opinion of others and being surrounded by friends. This, in an abused form, was all very distracting from the life He was calling me to live with Him as my center. So, how did my life look after college? I moved to Dallas, with not a gal pal from school in the area. This led to the inevitable truth I had to live alone, and begin a job I was not good at. No friends, no slap of approval on the back. I was suf-fer-ring. For real. Like embarrassing, crying-on-my-knees-in-a-lonely-apartment suffering. Of course, I tried going out with co-workers and finding distractions in the Dallas bar scene, but that mundane redundancy left me sick physically and spiritually.
It’s crazy beautiful how God was able to use that loneliness and suffering, though, because this was the first time in a long time where my life allowed for quiet alone time. There weren’t friends running in and out of my apartment or meetings to run to or a job I loved and wanted to become obsessed with. And through this quiet is how God got my attention with that still, strong voice of His.
New Playground and Playmates
Enter Watermark Women’s Bible Study on Thursday nights. I came across the memo on the website, thanks to an apartment leaser mentioning Watermark. The more I invested time at Watermark through The Porch, Women’s Bible study, serving, and Sundays (a.k.a. the right “playground” and the right “playmates”), the more I freed my grip to make room for God’s hand to grip my life.
I remember one Thursday night when my beloved Bible study leader was answering another of my ceaseless self-centered questions like “Did I move to the right city? Did I take the right job? Am I doing things right?” With a question of her own, “Sylvia, do you honestly think what YOU do or don’t do can ruin God’s plan for you?”
More of God and Less of Me
God defines serene and steadfast love. God allows me to fulfill my heart’s desire of friendship through biblical community with amazing friends that have been made here. But I have realized that at the center of my life, not at the bottom of it all, must always be my Savior.
Of course I still struggle with many things and have to give up myself to God every day (I’ve seriously considered a John 3:30 “HE must become greater, I must become less” tattoo on my forehead). Heck, I find myself even wondering what you are thinking of me while reading this. But, no offense, it’s not about you. Or me. It’s about the fact that God has changed my appetite, freed me from those judgmental chains and brought me into new life with HIM as the focus. “I find my strength, I find my hope, In Christ alone.”