Sarah Anne Hayes

on quick fixes and extraordinary living

FaithSarah Anne HayesComment

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "You should do the Race!" during the time I worked at Adventures, I'd have, well, a lot of money.

Each time, I laughed, smiled, and effectively said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

When I was hired, my supervisor told me the fact that I didn't do the Race was an asset. I was able to bring a different, broader perspective to the goals and vision for social media and copywriting for Adventures and the Race because, rather than only seeing what my personal experience had been, I was able to see all the kinds of things it could be for different people.

But for the number of times I was asked that question, it didn't seem like me not going on the Race was much of an asset.

Every time someone told me I should do the Race, I told them it's just not my thing. I love what the Race is and what it does for the people who are called to it, but it's simply not for me. Like some people know in their gut that the Race is for them, I know in my gut it isn't.

At first, I couldn't put my finger on why. I just knew it wasn't a good fit.

It wasn't an issue of money or living conditions. Rather, I didn't want to be away from my family for that long, I'm an incredibly picky eater, and after spending three months on the road after high school, I know I never want to live a lifestyle that transient again. It's exhausting for me. And not in the good way, the way that brings people to their knees, trusting the Lord to be their strength. It's exhausting for me in the ways that cause me to either snap at every person who talks to me or completely withdraw from life.

It's simply not a healthy environment for me.

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One day, I finally figured it out.

My coworker and I were preparing for our talk on storytelling for World Race Training Camp at the end of that week. After giving some examples like Braveheart, he asked me what my favorite movies are. It took me a second, because my initial reaction was that my favorite movies aren't ones about grand adventures or epic lives. They're stories about ordinary people who live extraordinarily in their ordinary lives.

And that's why the World Race isn't a good fit for me, or any other epic adventure that promises to help you find that "more" you're looking for.

I don't want to have to leave my life to find that "more." I want to find the ways to live extraordinarily, completely sold out for the Gospel, right where I'm at. I don't want to have to climb to the mountaintop to meet with God, I want to intentionally look for Him in the valleys.

When you're constantly surrounded by extreme poverty, miracles, and other things we rarely see in the United States, it definitely has the power to radically change the way you think and live. As many of my friends have said, you can't ever be the same after seeing and experiencing the things you see on the field. And I fully believe that.

But I also know that's not how I want to experience God. I don't want to have to leave my life to find Him. Because He's in my life. That "more" that people are looking for — it's possible to find it right where they're at. Working an office job, doing the hundredth load of laundry, or studying for classes.

If the Gospel can't radically change my heart while I'm living a normal life, then it's not the true Gospel. If I have to go on some epic adventure or travel around the world for the Gospel to flip my world upside down, then the problem lies within me, not within my circumstances.

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In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, "It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God—but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people—and this is not learned in five minutes."

We often gravitate toward epic adventures and grand promises of "more" because it seems like a quick fix. It can be easier for the Lord to flip your world upside down when you step completely outside of your comfort zone. Choosing to look for Him in the mundane and the ordinary is often far more difficult. And takes far more time.

I've certainly been tempted to look for the quick fix — to find that thing that will elevate my relationship with the Lord to new heights without pain or effort. But the truth is, that doesn't exist. And while witnessing the extreme poverty and miracles that take place around the world is certainly hard to work through, wrestling to find God in the midst of laundry and to do lists and homework is a different kind of hard.

You see, when you go on a missions trip abroad, people expect you to change. They expect you to come back with a new perspective on who God is and though they might not understand, they empathize with the difficulty of coming back to a comparably affluent life in America.

We don't have the same kind of empathy for fighting to find Him in the small moments.

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I will freely admit that most days I am horrible about this. It's easy for me to go on auto pilot each morning and get halfway to work before I've given the Lord a single thought. Instead of prayerfully going about my morning and my work day, I treat everything like a to do list, methodically checking off one thing after another, and it's not until I come home at the end of the day — or possibly even right before I go to bed — that I stop and look for God.

I hate that that's how it is, but anything different would be a lie.

When I'm struggling to remember to look for God in the small moments, when I struggle with my smallness and the complete ordinariness of my life, I'm tempted to take off on a grand adventure. I'm tempted to climb the mountaintops and seek out extraordinary things that can't help but remind me of who God is.

It's harder and braver to stay put. To discipline myself to look for God in the moments that aren't obvious. To know in my head that He's there when I'm washing dishes and crossing off to do lists and teach my heart to recognize His presence. To remember that there are never any quick fixes in drawing closer to the Lord.


image via minimography