Funny isn’t it? How a simple comment…or lack of comment… in an everyday conversation can stick with you like sticky bread dough on the hands.
There have not been too many times that I’ve shyly bore my insides and let someone in to know that I..I…I want to be or am working toward being a writer or an artist or a counselor. I want to do what I love. I want to do what I am…not be what I do. A few times I’ve walked away feeling more embarrassed that I exposed myself than encouraged.
Why is that?
I don’t think it is because the people were cruel but because people…we…even I…have become jaded. Shouldn’t our primary goal be to work and provide for our needs? We need to be practical…realists. The reality is…who gets to do and be what they really are inside right?
So I was sitting across from her and I boldly said (one of the rare times I was bold about this topic), “I want to do something different…I want to write or something.”
She said, “Get over it, Amy. You’re going to be like the rest of us. The sooner you accept that the better. Nobody does what they love.”
Now I know that she meant it in a loving way but…
But it stuck with me. Perhaps it made my longing to write, take pictures and go back to school…even stronger. Perhaps it made me want to fight even more this idea that we are destined to mediocrity in a place in life that is not at all fulfilling. The place where I was when she said that to me.
Chapter 6 of The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness is entitled: “Do What You Are”. His point in this chapter and book is to help us see that a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career, and the main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be.
I understand that for many of us, it is not possible for our full time jobs to be jobs that are fitting for how we’re designed. Many people must work their entire lives in an unfulfilling unsatisfying job for the sake of having money to provide for their families.
I personally didn’t take the time to fully figure out and understand how God designed me while I was in college or college-aged. I had a sense and took some steps in the direction. Ultimately, though, I decided to go a different direction for the sake of being practical and also for the desire to have fun instead of having to study harder. I paid the price after graduation by working jobs that were not necessarily jobs best suited for how God designed me. They were jobs, though, that provided and God used them and continues to use them in my life.
Guinness says, that instead of, “You are what you do,” calling says “Do what you are.” The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing—and we will be ourselves when we are finally there. We who seek to follow Christ and to answer his call can pursue the key link between our giftedness and our calling. There is a vast amount of Christian books and tests on the subject.
I have wondered if seeking a life doing what you are is selfish. Nothing can be further from the truth though. Giftedness in Christ for Christ is not selfishness but service that is perfect freedom.
In Chapter 4, p. 31, Guinness makes the distinction between primary corporate calling and our secondary individual calling. Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia). It’s that part of our life-response to God that we undertake in common with all other followers of Christ. Our secondary or individual calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. It’s that part of our life-response to God that we make as unique individuals. Our individual callings are unique simply because each of us is unique. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history.
Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!”
That includes you and me.
He has called us to Himself for Himself by Himself to live for Himself. He has called us to live as the Word tells us to.
Secondly, He has called us to live out how He has made us and gifted us.
Do you sense that you are doing that? Do you sense that you want to do that more?
My after-college years have taken me from being a printing saleswoman to a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom-writer-photographer-counseling student. I’m still looking, at 41, to take back the years of not living out fully how God designed me.
If you feel the same, take heart. God works in our life even if we make choices that seem less than perfect in hindsight.
I chose the graphic arts industry in college because…there were fun people in those classes and it was easier than Psychology (which was my original major). I also felt drawn to it because it spoke to my creative self. Although sales was not my cup of tea, I was in a creative industry and creativity was and is important to me. Within my career, he sent someone to me whom He used to turn me back toward Christ. That person went to a seminary that I ended up attending and lead me to a very good church where I met my husband. Because of the experiences and influences I had at that church and seminary, I’m now pursuing a life that reflects more of my primary and secondary calling. While on that printing sales job, God gave me many opportunities to share the gospel. He is using my experiences in the printing world to publish more personal productions for myself and others.
So God works. Are there really any mistakes if God uses them and conforms them or makes them His plan for our lives and others?
The question is…how do we now live as we grow in our understanding of how we were divinely designed?
This post will be continued next week and will include a free tool that can be used to help you explore the answer to the above question.
Blessings to you as you live out this one unique you designed by God.