What’s that one thing you believe you were just meant to do? Did you know at 3-years-old you were destined to be a best-selling author, a labor and delivery nurse, a pilot, a teacher, a mother, a bank president, a pastor? It was never exactly that clear for me. I knew I wanted to encourage people, and to write, but the combination of choices, chance, and God’s plans for me conspired a bit against the more specific plans I once had. What about you?
While I'm enjoying my career as a freelance writer and editor - and I know I'll always do that in tandem with any path I take - I often lament I’ve missed my most urgent calling. You see, I'm supposed to be a hospice social worker. Now, pursuing that path at midlife (did I just write that?) means sharing some funds set aside for my kids’ college educations to pursue a Master's degree. So I may be a very old woman by the time I return to school! (At which time I might look back fondly to the days when I was a spritely 46 ...)
Still – a little voice in my head keeps chirping, but what about mama’s dreams?
What I’m realizing is that while I may have missed my truest vocation, I can still find ways to live that purpose. Why am I convinced I was called to be part of the hospice family? Because when I’m visiting with people during vulnerable moments, I feel like my most authentic self. I feel totally at ease, completely capable, and often helpful. I feel like I’m listening to what God has whispered into my ear – that I’ve been called to bring people love and cheer during dark days. And facing death can be pretty darn dark. I walked my mother alongside her journey home to the Lord, after a brutal battle with cancer. It wasn’t easy, but I was so inspired by her dignified approach to the end of her life, and by the compassionate, dedicated hospice team. Unsung heroes, every one.
But I also know that I can take that passion for holding hands, listening, brokering difficult conversations and just loving on complete strangers and find other ways to invest those gifts. I just have to be open to the needs around me. I can visit the elderly, the sick, the least, lost and the lonely among us without an advanced degree. I just have to be willing to part with the egocentric part of my psyche that needs to achieve. That wants to fulfill something in me. If I’m willing to simply give myself away with a humble heart, I can still heed my calling. Light bulb moment! (God moment??)
It struck me that I’ve always lived my calling in a way – and maybe you do too. We can take our gifts into every sphere of our lives. Your gifts, whatever they are, can be expressed and utilized at your place of business, your neighborhood, and in your community. Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.”
So if you’re a wizard bean counter - and hats off to you if you are, because math still gives me hives - perhaps you can invest your gifts by teaching financial literacy at a home for single parents. Perhaps if hospitality is your gift but you never landed that gig as an event coordinator, your calling is to coordinate game nights in your neighborhood. Always wish you had become a lawyer? Volunteer as a guardian for children enduring the court system. And nothing says you can’t work toward achieving a new degree, land a brand new job in a different field, or start your own business. Meantime, the world simply needs you to find ways to live your calling – wherever you are called.