I am done.
I am done calling myself a Christian, but living a life that centered around me.
I am done working in an industry that has hardened my heart and drained me of who God created me to be.
I am done living a half-life; done loving half-heartedly; done serving and loving God only when it's convenient for me.
A few months ago, I was an employed 24-year-old who was using her university degree (film and television production). I worked as a production assistant on a popular TV show. I was at the bottom of the totem pole, but at least I was on the totem pole. I worked for extremely successful people who had produced numerous hit shows and they treated me like a human being, which I hear is a lot better than production assistants on some other shows. I had heard the horror stories, but luckily never experienced them myself.
At that time, I was living in Santa Monica, a five-minute bike ride from the beach. I enjoyed good friends, a great community and spending Sundays at church volunteering as a junior high group leader.
To the outside world, my life looked pretty good. But to anyone who knew me, I was struggling. On average, I worked 12 hours per day, five days per week. About 75% of my time was spent scanning documents or copying and assembling scripts. Already miserable because my most common tasks made me feel small and unimportant, I also listened to a lot of drama among my supervisors, which only added to my discontent.
Growing up, I was enthralled with television, especially comedies, and watching the blooper reel with the cast laughing and having fun made me think, "What an awesome place to work.''
But the dreams and expectations I had built as a child were not being met. Sometimes I got to do cool things, like hang with Academy Award-winning actors and watch them at their craft, or sit in on important meetings. Once I even drank scotch with the producers.
But all of these little moments didn't make up for the fact that I felt incomplete. I was not whole. There was a void. I realized it wasn't just that I played such a small role in a big picture, I was unhappy because I was working for the wrong big picture. I saw these successful people who seemed to have it all and yet a simple conversation could reveal that something was missing.
I'll never forget one of our producers responding to my simple question, "How are you?"
This person who had made it to the top, the place I was striving to be, jokingly delivered his cynical reply. It wasn't the first time he had said it, "Do we ever really know how we are?"
In that moment, it hit me. I had been trying to live life on my own. I had let the world and my job define me. I had put God in a box, as is if his purpose was to serve me, rather than the other way around. I am called to something more than this. As a Christian, I am called to love God with all that I have and to love others as myself. Someone once told me an acronym for true JOY: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Instead, I had been living it backward: YOJ.
I should live a life of love and sacrifice because God first loved me, and he made the ultimate sacrifice to have a relationship with me.
Once I saw this reality, God presented me with an opportunity to put it into action. A friend told me about the World Race, a journey to 11 countries in 11 months to serve "the least of these," the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the outcast, those in need of hope.
World Racers can expect to have days packed with construction projects, Vacation Bible School, relationship-building, praying for the sick at hospitals and so much more.
Recently, a World Race volunteer wrote: "Don't sign up for the World Race if you are comfortable with who you are, because I can promise that this experience will change you."
Growth and change are a part of life. Instead, I have become too comfortable. I have stayed the same because I refused to acknowledge my true identity. I continually tried to live life by my own standards, driven by my own desires. I am ready to step out of my comfort zone. I am ready to see how God can change my life when I make him my whole life.
Choosing to put God first doesn't always mean you have to give up your worldly possessions and go live in a Third World country. You can put God first anywhere, even here in Orange County. But right now, this is where God is leading me. He has invited me into a season where he will speak intimately to me and give me the opportunity to experience His love in a new way, and in turn share that love with others.
This month, I said yes to God's invitation, and I'm now in India, the first stop on my tour of 11 countries in 11 months. I am answering His call to enter a season of loving people the world has forgotten. I am leaving the first world distractions behind for the chance to lean on Him completely, and to develop a deeper relationship with him.
I invite you to pray for this mission and follow me on the World Race at http://www.lindseyfarmer.theworldrace.org
Mariners Church member LINDSEY FARMER, 24, grew up in Irvine. She graduated from Mater Dei High School and USC.