I don’t know about you, but when I read or hear the stories of amazing women (which is ALL the time), I have the tendency to compare myself to them. And that never goes well.
I convince myself that I will not be one about whom amazing stories are told. Because I’m not her. I’m just me.
And every bit of this is totally wrong.
Here’s a story to prove my point:
Queen Esther. Ostensibly sex-trafficked as a young girl, she is corralled into the king’s palace, lives with the eunuchs, and is then trained for a full year to be able and ready to please the king (sexually, of course) if called. She lives as a potential consort right alongside all the other girls of her town and every surrounding town, right alongside all the king’s previous and current wives. And all under the dark cloud of awareness that the last queen, who dared to say “no” to this same king, was deposed and discarded. In the midst of all this, she becomes the chosen one, is named the king’s favorite, is heralded as Queen, and then uncovers a massive plot to destroy her entire people – the Jews. She manages to merit the king’s favor, trick the villain (who was not the king himself), usurp his wicked plans, and save thousands of people from genocide. And now, thousands of years later, she is still honored, her amazing story still told, still celebrated through the Feast of Purim, a festival within the Jewish tradition that honors the redemption she ushered into the world.
Who am I to think that my story could possibly be anything like hers?
And in truth, isn’t it just pouring salt on a wound to hear it in the first place and then be left feeling like there is SO MUCH to live up to? It’s impossible. I don’t begin to compare. Why bother even trying?
Again, every bit of this is totally wrong.
Esther lived her life one day at a time. She faced the (often horrific) circumstances of her life in the best way she could in the moment. She took in distressing news and then acted as best she knew how in the moment.
She risked but not always. She spoke up but not always. She stepped forward but not always.
And when all was said and done – over years of time (not days, as the story so often sounds) – she became legend.
She could not possibly have seen the forest for the trees. She could not have seen the huge and sweeping plot that was taking place around her. She could not have seen the bigger narrative of which her seemingly-small life was a part. And she could not have seen how significant her life and story truly were.
Take heart, dear one; the same is true for you (and me).
Here is all that’s required:
- Do the next thing.
- Face your circumstances in the best way you can in the moment.
- Take in distressing and dangerous news, then act in the moment.
- Risk and speak up and step forward as often as you can, even if not always.
And consider this:
Maybe, definitely, it is best that you can’t see just how and important and significant your life truly is.
Just like Queen Esther. (Yes, you: just like her. Amazing!)
The most famous and well-known portion of her story is what her uncle Mordecai says
when she expresses her fear:
Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?
Yes, hugely significant and dramatic. I’ll give you (and her) that. But here is what matters:
“For such a time as this” meant (and still means) one moment at a time, one conversation at a time, one choice at a time, one risk at a time, one day at a time. Nothing more. And certainly nothing less.
Yes, be the queen. I’m all about that. Kick ass and take names and speak up and be bold. And know that the things that seem minor and insignificant and seemingly just the opposite of the amazing stories you read and hear are the stuff of “for such a time as this,” are the stuff of legend.
Paying the bills and having yet another conversation with your kids and telling your spouse or lover how you really feel and not pouring another glass of wine and not allowing fear to distract you from the writing that calls, or telling the truth, and all of the above and then some.
These are the details of your life – which matter, which make a difference, and, when all is said and done, are legendary. Because you are. You just don’t know it yet.
May it be so.