Recently, I read a quote in the book Eat, Pray, Love that perfectly expressed something I have been realizing lately. "It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection."
So many times, I have tried to imitate other people. I have been guilty of elevating the things I admire about others to an ideal to strive for, then I get discouraged when I fail to live it out perfectly. A couple posts back, I mentioned that Shane Claiborne's book, The Irresistible Revolution, changed my life. And this is true- but for a while I told myself that in order to do things "right" and to follow God the way I was supposed to, I should live as much like Shane as possible. The way he lives is very different from the American mainstream; for example, he moved into the inner city and lives in community with a bunch of other people, drives around a vehicle powered by vegetable oil, sews his own clothes, and has gone to places like Iraq and Calcutta. You can visit The Simple Way for more details, or even better, read his book. Anyway, because I couldn't necessarily do all those things, I thought I couldn't possibly be following Jesus the way I should.
Lately I have started to realize that instead of trying to imitate the lives of people I admire, I need to work within my own reality using the ideas and strengths and passions God gave me. My path will be unique, and that is just how it should be.
Upon thinking about it further, I realized that while I do admire certain aspects of other people's lives (like Shane Claiborne), what I am attracted to more than anything is their heart. It is a beautiful thing when a person's love for God, love for people, and passion for a particular issue intersect. The force that drives them- love- is one that we are all called to live out in our own lives. The specifics of how we live out love will look different for us all because we have all been given different talents, interests, and circumstances.
So now, instead of striving to imitate other people, I strive to live a life of love and to utilize my strengths and passions in the process. I am still trying to figure out what, exactly, my unique path will be, but it is becoming clearer. I know I may not always do things perfectly, but that is okay; living out my own destiny imperfectly is better than imitating someone else perfectly.