Recently I watched a biographical movie with my daughter about Gabby Douglas the Olympic gold medal gymnast of the 2012 summer Olympics. This young lady had an obvious gifting from the time she was a little girl. She not only was gifted but had ambition and determination that brought her ultimately to the Olympics despite coming from a single parent home of very modest means.
I’m reading a book about Sea Biscuit a champion thoroughbred race horse during the great depression of the last century. His trainer, Tom Smith, was a gifted horseman, his jockey, Red Pollard had a singular devotion to the sport. These men seemed to have a specific calling on their lives. The horse was an unlikely champion with knobby knees and odd habits.
Jane Goodall devoted herself to living with chimpanzees for over 30 years to research their habitats and social habits with the overarching goal of educating the world and promoting respect for nature. Her passion started as a young girl.
Mother Theresa, Eric Lidell, Billy Graham are just a few Christians that had specific and noble purpose and calling. Let’s not forget our bible characters, Noah, Abraham and Moses all heard directly from God what their purpose and calling and destiny would be. Paul of the New Testament too had about as clear a message as you could get that redirected his life and purpose.
Most of us love and admire stories of people who overcome obstacles, pursue with determination a specific goal and not only accomplish their goal but seem to fulfill a destiny. Destiny, calling, purpose, all words that seem to give direction and meaning to a persons life. We may set personal goals and seek a certain career path and find success and fulfillment in what we do, but how many of us sense a specific calling; an overarching purpose in life that keeps us singularly focused.
This has been something I’ve been a little obsessed with the past few years. Midlife will do that to you. A month out from 50 and I wonder if I still have yet to discover my calling, my destiny, my specific purpose in life.
For a while I had a goal to become a nutritionist. I had been researching nutrition and health for a number of years, then started taking classes and was hoping to start my own business as a nutrition consultant. I was excited to tell friends and family and I could tell people admired that at my age I would set out to educate myself and find a career after being a stay at home mom for 20 years. I thought this might be it. My purpose would be to help people achieve wellness through nutrition.
Then life happened, boys got married, a girl graduated, money got tight, and I got sick. I know people who push through obstacles like these, and part of me thinks I could have still pushed through. I may still get to the point where I can continue my studies and reach that goal but right now it seems to be on the back burner.
I continue to look at what calling, gifting and purpose in life is. I’m not giving up. Moses, after all, was 80 when he first heard from God.
And lest you think I’m ignoring my call to live for Christ as a Christian I’m not. I know my call is to follow hard after Jesus. For many years though I thought my only call as a Christian was to be a wife and mother. Not that this is not noble and good, and certainly many have found their satisfaction in those roles, and many still long for those seasons of life. It’s just that I feel, for me, there might be something more. I entered into motherhood at a young age, then marriage after that, and for whatever reason career and education got crowded out with just trying to survive.
As I mentioned yesterday the church we were apart of convinced me for a time that our highest purpose was to serve within the local church. Leaving that church has been the major impetus to reevaluate what Christian calling is and how we live for God within our specific gifting. I don’t believe anymore that God only uses us in the narrow confines of church community, though I still believe serving at church can be fulfilling.
I continue to search I’m seeking to let my life speak. Which is the title of a book by Parker J. Palmer.
Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess Parker J. Palmer
I’m trying not to just scramble for a prize of a career path or some outward recognition but want to live true to myself. I’ve spent so long trying to conform to some outward ideal that I feel I’ve never truly discovered myself. In the book The Call by Os Guiness calling is explained like this:
The spirit of calling counters this spirit of commerce by knocking holes in the ice. Thus there are, if you like, two economies- a “calling economy” as well as a “commercial economy”-and for followers of Christ the former, not the latter, is supreme. Contrary to the ways of commerce, calling means that life is lived for God’s sake or for its own sake under God. Intrinsic satisfaction outweighs external rewards, such as pay, advancement and recognition.
Guiness goes onto say the amateur ideal is a good indicator of true calling.
There are many things we do, not for profit but for the sheer love of doing them. Whether for our own sake or the sake of others we are happy to be doing it, even if nobody is watching us and nobody pays us.
I’m finding writing to be an outlet that I will probably continue to do whether I ever receive recognition or not. This 31 day challenge is testing that idea. I’m certainly an amateur.
I may not have an all out passion or clear calling to reach a certain goal like Gabby Douglas or Jane Goodall but I can live true to the desires and gifts I have and be faithful to my responsibilities in this season of life while I continue to search for direction and purpose.
What about you? Is your calling clear? How do you determine if you are to pursue a certain direction?