Malala Yousafzai is one of the most famous teenagers on the planet – maybe only pipped by the Bieb. This week saw her 18th birthday, and no doubt many millions of people around the world will be celebrating with her, and celebrating the incredible things she has achieved in her life to date.
But I can’t help but wonder if Malala sometimes wakes up and wishes she was just an ordinary girl. There must be some mornings when the expectations of the world weigh heavily on her shoulders, and when she just wishes she could go out with her friends without fearing for her life, or the lives of those she loves. There must be some days when she wishes she hadn’t been victim of an attempted assassination, with the inevitable on-going health complications and trauma that must bring. Maybe today is one of those days. All Malala wanted was an ‘ordinary’ upbringing and access to basic human rights and education; in some ways, she has sacrificed her own chances at an ‘ordinary’ life for the sake of thousands of other girls like her.
Sometimes I bet she wishes she didn’t have such a demanding role to play. Or at least I would if I was her.
And in my own, small kind of way, I sometimes wish I wasn’t called to so much too.
Not because I will do anything as life-changing as Malala on an international scale, or even anything of note on a public arena, but because all of us Christians – whoever we are and whatever we are doing – are called to personal holiness. That in the small, monotonous and every day decisions of life, we are called to live and love as Jesus did.
Each and every day I must decide to lay down my life so that Jesus might live through me. And sometimes I don’t want to.
Sometimes I don’t want to pore over the small things that seem so insignificant to the world but are so significant to God. Sometimes I’d just like to live an easy life, thanks. If only the narrow path wasn’t so darn narrow.
I bet sometimes Jesus wished he wasn’t called to so much. When he was kneeling there in the garden of Gethsemane, with the weight of the world – literally, the universe and all past and future generations – bearing down on his shoulders, it’s not surprising that he uttered the words: “Take this cup from me”. And yet Jesus was compelled with love for us, compelled to die for the world he loves. So Jesus always lived up to his calling, and never let personal emotion or feelings or selfish ambition get in the way of his high calling. In the big and the small, the outwardly world changing and the seemingly-insignificant-and-yet-important-to-God small things, Jesus was holy through and through. Thank God for that.
If only I was the same. It’s almost easier to settle for less than what we are. To focus on the things of the world, and get caught up with what appears Christian and Jesus-ey, without actually remembering that the way of Jesus is the way of death, the way of sacrifice; the narrow way. Sure – it leads to life, to true life, but death is required first.
So as we celebrate the birthday of an amazing girl who has done so much – let’s remember the girl behind the accolades and the impressive courage. Let’s thank God for the fact that she has taken a stand, and not taken the easy way when it presented itself to her. And let’s live up to the high calling in our own lives, resigning ourselves to living out the narrow and difficult way – in the manner of our Lord – even when we’d prefer a slightly easier calling.