“Then what matters most is humility, the willingness to accept who we are and embrace the full significance of that identity. What we seek is the grace to take responsibility for our strengths and abilities, to live with contentment within the skin that God has given us rather than aspire to be someone other than who we are. This is humility, and it is liberating in that by it we are freed from the burden of pretense.”
Gordon Smith makes this statement after addressing the need to assess “who am I?”, concluding that once I have taken stock of myself my job is to accept those realities and ask God for the grace to live within them. God did not make me to be someone else. Whew.
In my coaching role I would often describe career decision making as a two-fold process, know yourself, know your career options. In his chapter on vocation, Smith widens the second aspect to be know your world. He says, “If we are to discern well, it is imperative that we see the world as it is, not as we wish it were. It is a matter of facing up to the circumstances and opportunities as they actually are, not the circumstances or opportunities for which we hanker.”
I’m fond of reality-based living. By personality, I’m not naturally wired to be a dreamer or big-picture visionary so I tend to do fairly well with this portion of discernment. In my teaching I used to have clients complete an activity called Practical Realities where they answered questions like how much money they needed to earn to sustain their current lifestyle, did they desire to work full or part-time, how far were they willing to commute, would they relocate for a new job. It was a blending of knowing themselves and then seeing how that fit with the available options.
Being realistic about my world takes my head out of the sand. And, when I can accept that some things are out of my realm of possibility it narrows my field of choice. I will also have to grieve those closed doors, some with more tears than others. I simply can’t have everything I want in life.
I appreciate Smith’s thoughts on our need to willingly live in this unfair world. “But God’s call is always within the particular, and consequently the limitations we experience are always the context in which God will call us and enable us to experience his grace.” How often have I found this to be true! I would not be writing this post today were it not for God’s grace through difficult circumstances and his gentle leading into a world I never expected to enter.
Smith says, “Part of accepting our world and seeing our circumstances in truth is accepting the opportunities that are given to us rather than bemoaning what is not there.” That is my prayer for this day.
With love and gratitude,
In The Midst