What do you want to be when you grow up?
Several years ago I read a book called The Voice of Jesus by Gordon Smith and this week I recalled his powerful chapter on vocational discernment or, in other words, a spiritual approach to answering my initial question.
Smith says: “This discernment includes the capacity to know one’s vocation, or how one is being called, at this time and in this place, to give of one’s energies, whether it is in a career or in volunteer service.”
He continues. “The task of discerning vocation is fundamental for anyone who wishes to live with personal integrity, courage and authenticity.”
Perhaps that statement best captures why I am drawn to Smith’s perspective because he doesn’t limit vocation simply to paid work. It’s about life choices and life style. And, it’s about learning how to make decisions throughout our lives. He refers to people heading into retirement requiring an ability to discern involvements as much as young people freshly entering the work force because change happens over the life span. And where there is change, there is choice.
I recall a session I used to teach on navigating change and encountering clients who were adamantly opposed to this reality. They would sit through the discussion holding fast to their position that they had no desire, need or intent to change. They appeared stubborn, unrelenting and naïve. I came to think they were mostly afraid.
Change has a way of tapping into deep places where we long to know the world is predictable and secure. Not much is.
Change will continue to be the norm “…and this demands that we make no assumptions based on the past but rather ask, what is God calling me to be and do in this place at this time?” Or, as Smith also says, “who am I and to what am I being called?”
So today I am focusing on asking, “Who am I?” and using some of Gordon Smith’s ideas to help me better “match clarity about ourselves with clarity about our world, particularly our immediate circumstances.” Here are his suggested questions:
What matters to me?
What makes me angry?
What sustains hope and beauty and truth for me?
What brings me joy?
Where do I feel that I have a firm piece of ground on which to stand, so that I can make a difference?
With love and gratitude,
“The less routine, the more life.”
This quote by Amos Bronson Alcott graced the front of a card my husband gave me recently. It’s stuck in my head.
It’s a call to living large, I first thought. Break free from the shackles of day to day schedules, fly by the seat of your pants, give in to spontaneity and let every new 24 hours be an unpredictable source of adventure and exploits.
I got tired writing that sentence.
Is that what Alcott had in mind?
Or does the phrase capture how the sick child, an extra project at work, the untimely breakdown of a vehicle – in other words, “more life” – steals routine? Is the inability to attend to routine activities an indication that there’s simply too much going on?
Whatever the author’s intent, I appreciate how this single phrase has challenged me to consider margin in my life. Is there enough blank space allotted each week to accommodate the unplanned for? Will “one more thing” slide in and temporarily fill my cup to the brim? Does that additional expectation have a place to land or does it send my cup’s contents splashing over the rim?
And all this mulling reminds me how much I like routine…with variety.
So today I purpose to re-evaluate my weeks, looking for places to build in predictable structure while leaving enough white space to keep enjoying my days. More routine. More life.
With love and gratitude,
There is a fine line between life and death.
The surgeon and his assistant exited the “staff only” doors four hours later than we anticipated. They stopped in the hall, exchanging serious looks and hushed comments. My mom and I hovered in our designated waiting area.
The neurologist approached us and began reporting on my father's brain tumor removal. “That was a very challenging surgery – the most difficult one I have ever performed – because of the excessive bleeding. He lost a lot of blood – 800 cc’s."
We stood on a threshold. The next words out of this man’s mouth would define our family’s trajectory. Which direction would his summary go? Life? Death?
“In the end, it was a good surgery. We’ll have to see if we did any damage once he wakes up, but overall, I’m very pleased.”
Thankfully, ours was news of life. My father is making a strong, even remarkable recovery. Thank God.
But the news isn’t always positive.
I met a woman in the hospital whose 17 year-old daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident and remains unresponsive two months later. The mom said, “I didn’t used to be a praying person but I am now.”
I asked this mom if I could share her daughter’s story with my praying community to which she replied, “Of course. Please do. Her name is Kailyn.” As you feel led, please pray for this family. Their lives are on a difficult course.
It seems every day should be valued as a gift where people are loved, conversations treasured, and gratitude expressed for breath and time. But schedules are busy and moments slip by. A few days visiting the neurology ward is a sober reminder of priorities.
I don’t profess to understand or comprehend the answers to why life plays out as it does but I do know that in the midst of uncertainty, God is present; in adversity, He gives peace; in tragedy, His comfort is real; in celebration, He rejoices.
And when the ground beneath my feet quakes, I come back to truth.
God is good.
God is God and I am not.
Thy will be done.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst