I think your boots could be bigger. I mean you went small, but they definitely could be bigger.
That joking moment about the height of my knee boots was part of a full circle life moment last evening. Close to three years ago I began reading Stuff Christians Like, a blog by Jon Acuff. It was comical, jabbing at those things in Christianity we often can agree are funny-like the metrosexual worship leader or the cheap knockoff cookies they have at VBS.
I would laugh and think this guy is a genius! My assumption was he wrote the blog full time, since he was having a book come out that was based from the blog. Then the Serious Wednesday posts started happening, and wrecking me. I would see how God would use Jon to speak very pointedly to me at certain times about my life. I wondered how this guy in Atlanta knew about my struggles with grace, or my ability to forgive.
I would read and read, engaging in conversations in the comments with people from all over. It began to be a community, not bound by church walls or religion or even the US borders. The blog began to challenge me to see beyond this box of my life and what could be accomplished if I worked beyond the standard, the norm of life. I saw a guy who hustled before work, work he wasn’t really digging, but doing anyway so that he could write and speak-his dream job. I saw him encourage others to write, pursue, get beyond standard and reach above average. He did that for me without realizing it, and I am willing to wager I am not the only one he’s done that for.
In March of 2011 I knew I couldn’t stay in my same situation at work, in life. I knew that if I worked and hustled I could dream big and push myself further. I began looking for jobs, jobs I felt I was qualified for and honestly, staying rather comfortable still. That’s when the posting at Belmont popped up. “It’s in Nashville!” I thought. “It’s a a mid-range university, where expectations will be higher and you’ll be challenged!” is what fear began to say. “Your faith isn’t as big as it needs to be to work there. You’ve only got five years under your belt, and everyone will be much smarter than you.” The voice got to be relentless. I went for it, thinking it would never amount to anything and I would be back to working in my same position come fall.
Several weeks later I found myself at Belmont University, being interviewed by advisors, supervisors, deans, and students. It was the toughest interview I have had to date in my career. I walked away rather defeated, with the bright spot seeing Jeremiah 29:11 posted in my would-be supervisor’s office. That verse had come up several times over the days prior to my campus interview, and I found a little solace in seeing it there in her office. In the days that followed, I had resigned myself to preparing mentally for rejection. “Don’t expect much and when you fail, it won’t be as bad.” The voices got loud again…
Last night I had the opportunity to introduce Jon Acuff as he was speaking at Belmont for the third time this year. Jon was instrumental in my jump, he confirmed that fear gets loud in your head, but sounds ridiculous when you share it. He may not realize how big of an encouragement the community he builds on his blog, with 5 Club, with Quitter conferences is for those of us let fear and doubt not chase our dreams.
Following last night’s program a friend of mine posted on my Facebook some encouraging words as I am seeking to pursue another dream (that’s why I am up at 4:30am, punching Tuesday in the face). I had shared with her this story of Jon’s influence, without him really knowing he’d done it, earlier in the day. Her response? “Now you’re being an Acuff for others.”
I get jokes thrown at me for how I engage in 5 Club or talk about Jon’s impact from some individuals. They referenced me as an Acuffite once. But here’s the kicker, that’s a compliment. You see he feeds the dreamers and encourages the ridiculous because his story is ridiculous. I am excited that I get to work with colleagues and students daily and potentially encourage them the same way. Maybe one day I can be someone’s Jon Acuff, but with better boots.