“What is my calling?”
Ever ask yourself that?
If I were to make a list of all of the callings I tried on and wore for a season; gymnast, actress, singer, personal shopper, and cake designer, would be just some of the hats you would find in my closet. And for years I believed that these hats, tried and tossed, represented failure. Just an embarrassing list of wrong numbers and missed calls.
Where I learned that my calling in life was going to be something I sought after, achieved, and then only had to sustain, I don't know. But we all do this, don't we? We choose our calling and give it a deadline. We plan the age we will be married, number of children we will have, the job we will be offered, the house we will own, we even plan the dog. And if any of these goals are not met by a certain age, we fall into a pit of despair. And while there, we invite the devil over for chips and salsa, and together we look at everyone else who has achieved their goals, we search up every friend we've ever had who has found their calling, husband, and dream job, and we keep on looking and eating and comparing until the chip bag is empty and the salsa jar licked clean and we can hardly stand the nothing we have amounted to and so we go on and open a bottle of wine or a take a spoon to a carton of Cherry Garcia while standing in front of the freezer, because the devil promises it will make us feel better and because I mean, really, at this point, the only calling God has for us is clearly not coming from Him, but from Ben & Jerry's!
Oh, sweet Lord, have mercy on me and my run on sentences. This hits close to home, is all, and I am just so fired up.
Why? Because of the insane pressure. Have you felt it? Seen it? It is so thick you can dip your tortilla chip in it; the world and its relentless preoccupation to know your calling. And not just know it, but attain it. Right now. If you have ever gone through the college application process with your child, you have witnessed this firsthand. If you are a college student, or fresh out of the dorm, I will bet you are experiencing the anxiety of “not knowing” this very moment. I feel for you. I really do. My stomach twists and tightens every time someone asks my child, “What do you want to do?” My guess? They want to run far away from you and that question. Because they do not know the answer. And not knowing scares them.
The struggle to know your calling is more than real. It is terrifying. But it doesn't have to be.
If you struggle with knowing your calling, or are raising precious souls in search of where they are supposed to be, let me assure you, you are not alone. In fact, most of us have no idea what God is calling us to do. From the young girl with a new job in an unfamiliar town, to the new mom who just changed her 400th diaper, to the woman walking away from an unhealthy relationship and starting over, to the empty nester with, “now what?” echoing in her brain. You are in good company, sweet sisters, and exactly where you are meant to be. And I will tell you why. Actually, Saint Paul in Philippians 3:12-14, will tell you why.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Is it any wonder that the answer to our biggest life questions are always found in Scripture and never in an ice cream carton? Paul understood that while we hope and pray to arrive at our goal, the meat of our story is not in the grabbing hold of it, but in the pressing on and through to it. He assures us that while we may not yet have hold of it, the key is to quit worrying about the past, to show up for today, and to continue moving forward towards tomorrow. The prize will come, but it waits for us at the finish line, and there is more race to run. This stretch of road you are on? Good or bad, rough or smooth, it is your present calling. It matters. It is necessary. It is a piece of the crown. Don't worry about your timeline, and definitely don't worry about your friend's timeline. The prize is for who runs the race well, not who gets there first.
Listen up. I know you want to skip past the uphill miles and uncertain roads, and get to the good stuff. But here is the thing: this is the good stuff. The place you are in now? That is the spot you have been called to. It is just one of the many hats you will be called to try on, and whether you wear it forever or toss it after a year, God will use every single thread to weave it into your story and bring Him glory. Your prize is waiting for you at the finish line, and it is worth everything. Ignore the pressure to know, and press on in the unknowing. God knows your calling. And that is all you need to know.
With you in the struggle,
PS I have been making an effort to make Scripture my first go-to when in need of comfort, answers or encouragement...not the kitchen! I would love to know your Scripture go-tos. Email us and we will share it in our Instagram stories!
2015 is here! I love turning to a new calendar page, using fresh notebooks with no markings, and looking ahead to limitless possibilities in the coming months. But the minute that someone suggests I make a New Year's resolution, I start to feel adrift. I become increasingly aware of all the things I am barely getting done as it is. Thinking of grabbing hold of another goal makes me feel like I'll get pulled under and never be able to come up for air.
Those of you impressive people who have resolved to swear off plastic grocery bags forever, or who are going to run a half marathon, or are going to lose a bunch of weight - I applaud and admire you. I invite you to come over and organize my closets. We could have a great time chatting and I promise to make you a lovely cup of tea. But I can't join you in pursuing your new year's resolutions because just thinking about it is making me feel stressed out and inadequate.
As I write this, I'm looking out at Megunticook River in Camden, Maine. The river is currently covered by a sheet of ice but during the summer our dock is surrounded by kayaks. My parents gave our older kids kayaks for their birthdays a few years ago, and pretty much every day of the summer my dad reminded them to tie up their kayaks to the dock. “One of these days, you're going to wake up in the morning and your kayaks will be gone,” he'd warn. But tying up a kayak takes forever, so more often than not, the kayaks were just dragged onto the dock and turned upside down.
One night, a storm hit Camden as we slept. Sure enough, when we woke in the morning, one of the kayaks was missing. My dad didn't need to say a word; everyone knew that the kayak should have been tied up, and that an expensive gift had possibly been lost. The kids searched for it for days, and when it was finally found, it was dirty and banged up and hard to pull out of the weeds.
The kids didn't enjoy taking time to search for the kayak, but probably the hardest thing for them was the knowledge that they'd disappointed their grandfather. He'd sacrificed to give them such a generous gift, and they hadn't valued it enough to take care of it. The untethered kayak makes me think about my spiritual life. God's given me the incredible gift of a close relationship with Him, and He promises to guide me and strengthen me through every moment of my life. It cost Him everything to offer me that gift. How does He ask me to take care of it? The answer is found in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Remain in Christ, being as grafted to Him as a branch is to the vine, like tightly tying the kayak's rope to the dock.
To remain in Christ takes time. And we are so busy. It's just so much quicker to take the easy way out. All too often, we settle for pulling the kayak up on the dock instead of tethering ourselves to God.
We talk about God, instead of talking to Him. We get our bodies to church, but keep our hearts somewhere else. We sit down to read the Bible, but end up reading about someone else's experience of God instead. We run on fumes from time spent with God a long time ago, hoping that it'll be enough to fill us and keep us going today.
All those things can look good from the outside. When the day runs smoothly, we'll probably feel that it's good enough. A good enough relationship with God. A good enough spiritual life. The kayak will stay on the dock and be there in the morning.
Unless the storm hits. And it will. It can be in the form of an unwelcome phone call in the middle of the night. It can come in the words of one who promised to be faithful but no longer wants to keep that vow. It can come when the accumulation of disappointment or loneliness or uncertainty just gets to be too much. It can come when kids are whiny or hopes are shattered or unkind words pierce the heart. It's at those times that we need an anchor for the soul.
Christ is our hope, and He is the anchor for our souls.
The daily disciples of prayer, Bible reading, receiving the sacraments…these are the ropes that connect us to the anchor. His presence and His promises never fail. He is steadfast. Our part is to remain in Him. Remaining in Him every once in a while won't bring the change and the peace that we long for. But if we resolve to remain in Christ every day, there will be no limit to the transformation and soul rest that we can experience.
My one resolution for 2015? Remain in Christ, tethered-every day-to the Anchor of my soul.