ministry, social justice, writing

What Does a Calling Look Like?

It’s been years. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect the first time I felt this sense that God had something different for me, something new, something a little frightening was when I had three small children. That wasn’t the reason for the feeling, I just have a few vague memories of the old church building which gives me a reference point. I had this unsettled feeling and I was drawn to the stories of Peter walking on water and diving overboard. Water. I didn’t know what it meant. I prayed. I waited. Nothing. Time passed and the stirring increased. Things I had been holding on to I slowly began to release.  “I don’t want to move, God.”  “Okay, I’ll move, but not too far.” “Okay, I’ll move, but not out of the country.” “Fine, I’ll leave the country, but they have to speak English.”  “I don’t care where you send me, God, if you’ll just TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO!” The years passed like this, with no revelations or guidance. I continued on the journey, always learning and growing, but never finding. I had my heart broken and the ministries I once had seemed to be taken away one at a time. It hurt immensely, yet in the turmoil I felt this sense that after all this time God was going to finally reveal to me “The Plan.”  But He didn’t. I cried. I sobbed. I was broken. Life went on just as it always did, and I adapted. I wrestled with God and in the end I was left with a limp but not a calling. I’m not entirely sure if I think God is giving me a calling, but then there is this thing. I’ve had ideas before; I’ve “done ministry.” I’m not really sure if this is any different. I’ve been involved with other things where my gifts and passions seemed to come together. So I look at this new thing equally with hesitancy and expectation. Could this be what I have been waiting for? Or could this just be another thing? The idea formed as a twisting turning thought from a myriad of places. There was the biography I had wanted and purchased for Thanksgiving break, but didn’t finish until Christmas break. There was the book that Amazon recommended, by an author I had never heard of, and I opted to take a chance on it praying it would be better than the last book Amazon thought I would like (the one that told me I needed to spend the first 20 minutes of my day with God, then take an hour walk for my physical well being all before leaving for work at 6:45 am). Then there was my advisory council of beautiful women (and my husband) who said pretty much, “What the heck are you doing? STOP IT! ALL OF IT! Give up every single thing in your life except for the family God has given you and your job.” They were right. They knew it. I fought it. It was inspired. How does one discern the difference between a calling and my own conception? Did I just dream up an idea from the bits and pieces of things I was reading about, or are these the threads of my life coming together into the tapestry that God has specifically planned for my life? My heart is already full with the perfect job for me and a family that consumes my heart and much of my time.  Is this the right timing for this dream? Can I fluctuate between feelings of “This is it!” and “I don’t want to,” and it still be from God? Can I rest in the idea for a little while before embarking on making it a reality or is that untrue to a calling I have been waiting  years on end for? Is there a calling for everyone, or is our calling just what we chose to do as we live a life that makes the deliberate choice to follow Christ? I am in the process now of laying out my soul once again. I wrote the fragmented pieces of this idea down and then laid them out for my husband over fast food. Ironic, sharing a vision that has taken a decade to form over fast food. I held my breath and asked, “What do you think?” And in that moment, all that I love about him was present as he held my dream with care and gave me a vision for how to make it a reality. Taking a pen and scribbling notes on my embryonic treatise, he gave me permission to be this person, to take on this monumental task, to become. While I was still swimming in uncertainty he was buying domain names, God bless him! Then I made a second draft, and by that I mean a 20th draft, but the second one I would let someone see, and I sent it to my council of beautiful women. They are the accoutrements of God! They are also my therapists and my voice of reason. Then I set up a meeting with my pastor. And now I wait. I wait on the responses, the meeting, and the moment. I feel a peace in my soul that I haven’t felt in a long time, even with the toggling between the many questions and feelings. I think this is what resting feels like, maybe even a calling.

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