When You Feel Too Small For This Great Big Life

I had a dream last week in which I was driving a huge truck. It wasn’t just any truck, either, but one of those massive ones they use in the rock quarry down the road from my house. One of those dump trucks on steroids, that dwarf school buses and make semi-trucks look like toys. One of those whose gargantuan spare tires require a police escort down the interstate. One of those.

I drive a tiny SUV (if it’s even considered that), so I would have been out of my element even if I had been puttering around a parking lot, taking the truck on a little low-speed test drive.

Unfortunately, my dream released me onto the open road in the driver’s seat. I sat on the very edge of the great big truck’s great big driver’s seat, straining to stretch my feet to the pedals. The steering wheel was like a giant hula hoop in my tiny hands. Never having actually been in the driver’s seat of one of those things, I can’t say how accurate this is; in my dream, though, from the vantage point of the driver, the six-lane interstate was nearly invisible. It appeared no wider than a spaghetti noodle. I hovered what seemed like miles over the tiny road, and I struggled with every inch to maintain control and keep the truck in my lane. To make matters worse, my puttering days were over; I was driving full speed as though the dump truck were living out its own dreams of the Daytona 500.

Y’all, it was terrifying. I woke up panicked, my pillow and night shirt damp with sweat and my heart pounding. I could still hear my voice echoing from the dream: “I can’t do this! It’s too big! Why did they think I was ready for this?”

I’m usually able to shake off the panicked feeling and forget about weird dreams pretty quickly. This time, though, it has been stuck in my mind. That feeling…of trying to steer something so big when I can’t even see where I’m supposed to be taking it…I can’t seem to shake it.

Because while a lot of dreams seem random, this one makes far too much sense to ignore. Because right now, the life I’m trying to steer feels really big.

I’m a wife, and I attend a church that strongly emphasizes the importance of strong marriages in the body of Christ. We’re working on our twelfth year as husband and wife, but I feel no more equipped nor adequate for this role of helper than I did in our newlywed months. The world is watching marriages for the image of God, so it’s important. The job feels so big.

I’m a mama. My daughter is eight, and while we’re a long way from adulthood and launching her out of the nest, the world is beginning to press in on her. She’s experiencing and feeling and learning things that mark the beginning of her transition from being a little kid to being an adolescent. That’s not easy on anybody. There are so many things for me to think about…to remember…to consider. I feel too small for a job that feels so incredibly big.

I’m a writer, and this seems to be my year to embrace my calling as I never have before. I’m taking brave and bold steps toward the things I feel God calling me to do and to pursue, and at times, I feel completely out of my league. Giving light and hope to people in the dark places of life? That’s the vision He’s given me, but it feels so big. Writing so many words…enough for a book? Throwing my heart and soul out there into the world? That feels immense. It’s a big job for someone so small.

I’m a speaker. God has called me not only to write words, but to speak them, using my voice to reach my generation as apparently only I can. I struggle with this. It is scary. It takes me into the deepest places of trust and and the furthest reaches of obedience. And some of the things it’s going to require of me? They feel so big.

It’s all so big, y’all. My life is starting to feel so big and I feel so very, very small. This place I’m called to occupy in this great big world is beginning to feel significant, but I still feel like little ol’ me. When I was younger, I assumed I would feel more grown and prepared when it came time to do the big things of life. Right now, though, I still feel unprepared and ill-equipped and far, far too small to do the big things God has called me to do, even as I am doing them.

The truck is so big…the road down there is so narrow and unclear…and I’m so small sitting behind this massive steering wheel. I just don’t know how to do this. It’s all too big and I’m far too small.

Maybe you can relate. Life? It feels too big for us sometimes. It feels like we have a lot more growing to do before we’re ready to bloom where we’ve been planted.

When I was a little girl I would pick a pair of my mama’s high heels and, sliding my tiny feet as far down into the toe of the shoes as I could, would clomp-clomp-clomp my way through the house. The shoes dwarfed my little-girl feet, but it didn’t matter. I liked how it looked. I liked the feeling of looking down and seeing what I envisioned as my future. (Interestingly, I wear high heels just about, oh, never.) As a kid, pretending we’re bigger is fun. We know we’re small, and we like to pretend, but there’s always the possibility of taking the shoes off and stepping back into what fits. No one expected us to continue on in those shoes that were far too big. It’s clear we’re just not there yet.

Today, I feel a little like that little girl standing in front of a mirror wearing shoes that are too big and are meant for someone else. Today, though, it’s not pretend. Today, I don’t get to give the shoes back. Today, I can’t switch them out for something smaller. Today, I have to figure out how to walk in them and make it work because today, these shoes are mine.

The worst part? Being found out. Having someone realize the predicament I’m in. Sometimes I would fall, wearing my mama’s big shoes. The steps I’m trying to take today feel just as wobbly. With every awkward move forward, I am keenly aware that I could fall down. Hard. And that everyone will see.

I’ll fall and they’ll see and it’ll be over and what’ll I do then?

The thing is, I think we’re all in shoes that are a little too big…trying to steer a truck that’s too big for what we’re trained to drive. I think we’re all in over our heads, at least a little bit. And like little girls with wobbly ankles in too-big shoes, we feel like we have an awful lot of growing that needs to be done before we can fit what we’re trying to do.

“God, this can’t be where you meant to put me, can it? I’m not ready…I’m not strong enough…not big enough…not smart enough or talented enough or impressive enough. Pull me up, Lord, from the roots. Put me where I belong.”

I’m realizing, though, that the only way to manage the vastness of life is to become friends with our smallness. To embrace how small we are in the face of a great big life, and to see the size disparity as an amazing opportunity.

The only way to move forward is to accept our smallness and cling to the One who’s big enough to drive this thing. To close our eyes and trust the One who can see further down the road than we can. He’s never asked us to venture into those big places on our own. He never even asked us to figure out where were going or how to get there. We made that assumption on our own. We decided for ourselves that it would be that way.

Friend, you and I need to let go of that great big steering wheel and stop squinting into the distance. The One who planted us in this big world…placed us in this big truck…is more than capable of taking it where it’s supposed to go. It’s precisely our smallness that enables Him to use us in big ways.

Blooming where we’re planted? It was never up to us. It’s up to the One who planted us here.

We’re in this together.

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