When Mom dropped me off for Career Day in 7th grade, I walked into the school full of possibilities. I could choose to be anything I wanted. Mom said so, and Dad agreed.
I chose “engineer.” Maybe an architectural engineer. Mentally, I fingered Dad’s mechanical drawing set. With the reverence given to a surgeon’s sterile tray of instruments before surgery, I unsnapped the case. Inside, on a soft, sapphire blue felt holder, lay a metal protractor, 6″ ruler, and mechanical compasses for drawing perfect circles and arcs.
To use these in a job would be divine. Yes, engineer. I like that possibility.
“Kids,” my math teacher’s booming voice startled me back to the classroom. From his perch on a stool in front of the room, he warned us, “When you choose vocations to explore today, make sure they’re appropriate. For instance, if you’re a girl, you may not want to choose engineering.”
I slunk in my chair, mortified at being inappropriate. With eyes darting side to side to ensure no one saw my paper, I covered my dream and erased engineering.
In the gospel of Luke, Elizabeth faced a similar circumstance. When she bore her son, well-meaning neighbors and kin wanted to rename her dream. They gasped in horror when she bucked tradition. When she dared to break the rules and give her child a name different from his father, Zechariah.
Elizabeth and Zechariah stood firm against a “giant hairball.” That’s the term Gordon McKenzie used to describe a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules and traditions that worked in the past but later imprisoned creativity and dreams.*
Elizabeth and her husband refused to name their son anything other than what the angel of the Lord declared — John. The name God gave the dream that had filled their hearts into old age and well-beyond child-bearing years. (Luke 1:57-66)
I still have Dad’s mechanical drawing set. I pull it out occasionally. Not to mourn what could have been … God still got me where He wanted me to go. His plan stood firm, and I see how He nudged me to where I am today.
Instead, I use that mechanical drawing set to celebrate what I learned after 7th grade Career Day. To break away and orbit the giant hairball instead. To resist allowing anyone to rename the dreams I dream … the ones He puts on my heart. Because I want to be what He created me to be. Mom said so. And my Father agreed.
“I will instruct you,” says the Lord, “and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.” (Psalm 32:8, The Living Bible)
*Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball. Viking: 1996.
©2011 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.