She is twenty-seven months younger than me and stands two inches taller. In addition to being a constant playmate growing up, she was also the first person I compared myself to. She is my smart, sensitive and stylish sister. Having a younger sister means I always had a companion in creating Barbie dream worlds, but I also always had a competitor. Our grades, interest, friends, clothing and behaviors were compared to one another. Sometimes I did not know who I was without her.
As she graduates from a Christian college, and heads onto a prestigious graduate school, I continue working two jobs and my state college diploma gathers dust. I cannot help but wonder if I took a wrong turn somewhere. Instead of joining my sorority and spending Tuesdays at Kilroys, should I have been studying at the library? Am I leaving untapped potential by foregoing graduate school at this point? I evaluate my life in light of hers.
In the midst of comparison, I can lose my focus. It is never about me, or my sister, to begin with. It is about Jesus, and the perfect story He has for each of our lives. We see this same dilemma play out in Peter’s life.
“Peter turned and saw that the disciple who Jesus loved was following them… ‘Lord, what about him?’” (John 20:20-21 paraphrased)
Peter wants Jesus to tell him that the call on his life is more significant than the call on John’s life. Because Peter is human. He tries to evaluate his life, and his calling, in light of John’s. Peter believes that in order for the calling on his life to be good, it must be better than John’s. Jesus gently corrects Peter with words that my heart longs to hear.
“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (v.22). These words follow Jesus’ command to Peter, “Take care of my sheep,” (v.16).
Jesus affirms Peter’s calling without comparing it to John’s because it is not a competition. The Kingdom needs Peter and John to live out their callings, to their full abilities, alongside each other. That is when God receives the glory He so rightfully deserves – when we each, live the stories that He is writing for us, without comparing it to someone else’s.
My sister will make a terrific college Theology professor. I have talented friends working with autistic children and their families, ministering to college students across the globe, serving people when they are the most vulnerable and in the hospital, attending graduate school to learn more about enhancing the gifts that God has given them, and investing in the future generations through teaching. I have wonderful friends doing work for the Kingdom of God everyday, but their callings do not take away from my own. There is no scarcity in the Kingdom of God.
My sister and friends are brave, bold and beautiful, but the best part is that I get to walk alongside them, not race them to finish line. In the Kingdom of God, there is room enough for all of us to pursue our callings.
Currently, Jesus calls me to love prospective adoptive families well. I spend hours on the phone each week listening to their hearts for international adoption and educating them on the process. I answer the same questions over and over, trying not to lose sight of world’s most vulnerable children and the families who hope to adopt them. In addition to my job at MLJ Adoptions, I work at J.Crew. I am a firm believer that a great outfit can do wonders for a person’s confidence. I desire to make friends at work, with my co-workers and with our customers. My calling is no less and no better than anyone else’s. It is a worthy calling to strive to walk in obedience to the work the Lord has started all around me.
There are days when all I want to do is dig deep into a passage of scripture with a college student, share about the freedom we have in Christ, or encourage a Greek woman that the fight for faith in her chapter is worth it, but right now, that is not the flock God has called me to tend. Perhaps someday, but today I will, the best I can, walk in obedience to the words that Jesus tells Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 20: 17).