March 26, 2014

Called to Blog?

For the past 5 weeks, I've been attending a seminar entitled "Called to Life." Along with a few women from my church, I've been spending two hours a week exploring the question of what God is calling me to do and be.

I signed up for the class because of a word I saw somewhere in the course description: vocation. I was in the midst of a job change, and I thought "Aha! This may give me clarity on how to manage this."

The first week of class, I learned that vocation is about much more than career. It comes from the Latin vocare, "to call," as in "to hear the voice of God."

When I thought of it that way, I quickly backed away from my once-solidly-established calling of "I help create a better workplace by empowering storytellers, illuminating our corporate culture, and connecting employees at all levels to the company and to one another." I don't think God speaks in corporate buzzwords.

I simplified it to "I am a writer."

Thus, I launched my 40-day blog project. At a time when my professional identity was in flux, I thought I might find my center by writing my way through it. I thought that if I spent enough time pouring words onto a screen, I would find the story that I was meant to tell.

It could still happen; I'm barely halfway through the project. But, I have a feeling that my calling is not here.

Here are 7 things I learned from my class.

1. Calling is not One Big Thing that comprises my life's purpose. It is a combination of all the roles, relationships, and responsibilities that come together in the course of my life. It includes the answers to 3 questions: Who am I? How do I live? What do I do? Today I am called to be a mother, a wife, a manager, a colleague, a writer, a friend, and many other things.

2. God doesn't usually speak to people through a burning bush or a thundering voice from the sky. His messages tend to be more subtle, enmeshed in everyday life and people. When I have a conversation with a friend that keeps resonating in my mind days later, that may be God telling me that I need to be paying closer attention to that message (or that friend).

3. I do not control what happens to me. But, if I approach every challenge with openness and kindness, I will not regret my actions.

4. The times of greatest loss are the times of greatest growth. 

5. We don't just get called to or toward good things. Sometimes, we get called into situations that are difficult but important to our spiritual growth. Sometimes, we get called away from situations that are damaging us or hindering our growth.

6. Prayer is a source of power. I don't believe I can pray for God to solve my problems, but I might pray for the wisdom to discern my next steps or the strength to act on my ideas. I can also pray when things are hard and I just need to unburden myself.

7. Calling is not an accomplishment; it's a ministry. It's not "What might I do someday?" but it's "What can I give today, and who needs me the most right now?" Sometimes the answer will be me (we all need to take care of ourselves to shine our brightest), but most of the time it will be about service to others.

It's #7 that makes me think my blogging project, while it may be a useful exercise in self discipline and a study in sleep-deprivation, will not bring me closer to finding my calling. 

I feel like my calling is already in my life, every day. It's in the greeting I give my bus driver in the morning, the responses I send to work emails, the way I take the time to explain a complicated procedure to a confused coworker. It's in how much time I take to play with my kids or hug Sam or acknowledge the heartfelt or silly things that my friends share on Facebook. It's in how I might need to retreat inward, sometimes, to replenish myself and read a novel or go to bed early because sometimes I am not the best Monica that I could be... but I am called to be just a little bit better tomorrow.

1 comment:

Sandi Lindstrom said...

You put into words, the feelings I carry with me daily. It is astounding to find them written down. To discover that writing is a piece of your puzzle of calling is not surprising. You have been introspective and creative ever since I first knew you. Please write! To be able to write effectively is like listening to moving music. You evoke and awaken emotions,