Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wisdom in Our Calling and Vocation

Do you ever find yourself asking God, "What is it exactly I'm called to do?  Or maybe you've asked, "What is the goal of my vocation?" I spent my summer chasing a writing deadline with a very clear goal at the end: a book.  All my closest people heard about this goal, whether they wanted to or not, because finishing the book was constantly on my mind.  In fact, my husband and girls were super supportive throughout the eight and ten hour writing days until the very end when each one said, "Isn't that book done yet?"  Reaching that goal, finishing the book felt so good.  You might read this and think, "She's fortunate to know her vocation, her calling."

Well, here's the backstory.  For almost ten years, when my daughters went through preschool and elementary school, I asked myself the questions above.  I wanted to write a second book not only for the subject but also for my vocation, my work, my calling. And it took ten years until it finally happened.  Year after year it seemed every door would close and every answer was "no."  In dark moments, I let the closed doors and the confusion of hearing, "no" serve to distract me from doing what my Heavenly Father wanted.  Ironically, as the ten-year-story of my life unfolded, I did walk in my calling and vocation but not the way I thought I would hear it and live it.

Here's Five Nuggets of Wisdom I learned in the Past Ten Years:  (I have more but five is a good start)
  1. Our calling can come from a revelation, an invitation, or an employment situation.  I may not have said "Yes" to every invitation or job opportunity but I embraced certain ones with my whole heart.  I do not regret taking jobs or projects that seemed out of the box.
  2. What brings us deep satisfaction tells us something about our calling.  On the Friday after I finished the book, I felt joy--a full and filling happiness that caused me to laugh.  The days and weeks that followed were not filled with more writing but with extended time with friends and family I had missed while I was writing.  The satisfaction I experienced from spending time with them is also a part of my calling; satisfaction has a way of leading us.
  3. The "seasons" of our lives don't need to frighten us.  I wanted to do everything at once.  I have women friends who do this beautifully.  I wasn't one of those.  When the fruits of the Spirit started rotting in my heart because I was stressed, I knew it was God's way of letting me know I walked away from my calling.  I'm so thankful for a season of writing: it had a beginning and an end. Before that season, I had a season of no writing; I felt like Habakkuk in chapter three.  Looking back, that season had a beginning and end, too.  Don't let the word "seasons" frighten you.
  4. Marriage and Parenting are part of our vocation. Building meaningful relationships with my husband and daughters required me to slow the pace of my life down significantly. I made a costly choice to work with more flexible hours. 
  5. The burdens and pains I feel are an indication of my vocation and calling.  The very things that broke my heart and seared it with sadness were gifts God gave me to follow my call.  I learned to pay careful attention to them so I wouldn't lose the gifts I was born to embrace and hold dear to my chest.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

After a few months' break from blog-writing, I'm starting today to write about a new topic: Goals and A Woman's Vocation.  While I was finishing my book this summer, I had the sense that the chapter on vocation was calling for more attention.  As Christian women, we don't always have safe places to talk about our vocation and ask our deepest questions in fear of being misunderstood or judged.  Yet Scripture has much to say about our calling, our work, and our vocation.  Whether your work is full-time, part-time, volunteer, inside the home, around the world or caring for your closest people, I hope and pray there will something in these real-life writings that will speak to you or create good questions for you.  

Feeling Like We've Missed Something

The moment I realized something in our communication went wrong, I became livid.  I was angry that my daughter had not arrived at the meeting place we agreed upon.  Checking my phone to see if I missed her texts, it was as if I could hear the minutes counting loudly, "Five, six, ten, twenty."  Questions raged and flared within me, "How could she be so disrespectful?"  "Why am I living my life for everyone else?" In the half-hour I waited for the car to pull up, I decided I would take her phone away for a week, I would not be so available to take her or her sisters places, and I decided it was time for me to take on a full-time job an hour away so my family would appreciate me more!

The second my daughter climbed into the car she heard and she saw how unsatisfied I was and she was prepared for this as she apologized.  She knew I was dissatisfied with her not calling, with the position she put me in--inconvenienced and uncomfortable.  By this time, both of us were in tears and unable to to have good communication.  As I drove home, skewed images and dark fascinations began to form in my mind as I willed myself not to speed:   These are the moments my daughter will remember when she's 25, her mom being mad at her; I've sacrificed my job skills to build a family and I've failed. And then the darkest downward spiraling thought came: I'm done! Why do I try so hard when things don't go my way?!

At the heart of our vocation and calling, we hear voices tempting us to imagine that there's a better life for us.  The tempting voices are from our enemy who wants to trip us up into feeling we've missed something bigger and better and more important than what we've done or what we're doing right now.  Our calling is to be fully human Christian women who bring Light into the world.  My flesh was crying out for satisfaction when things didn't turn out the way I planned with my daughter.  But couldn't that happen with my colleague? My boss? My employee? My friend? Finding satisfaction in our vocation and calling happens when we realize the voice of the enemy is trying to distract us.  At the end of the day when I realized I had been distracted, I was in a better place to accept my daughter's apology and to simply explain my expectations of her.  What brings you dissatisfaction in your calling, vocation, your life?  Can you identify the voices and see them as distractions?

Psalm 90:14 "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad  all our days."