I’m a big believer in calling. By calling I don’t mean you that personal feeling that you love something or feel drawn or brought to life by an activity or purposeful act. What I’m referring to is that actual feeling that you are being LED.
In fact sometimes you don’t really want to do the thing at all. Most times in my experience it brushes up against your deepest fears and insecurities — it requires you to step out of your comfort zone, out of your place of knowledge or skill level and into something where you have to depend on God.
In fact sometimes it requires you to step straight into the voices criticism and harsh judgment and surrender. Surrender to the power you do not have, the people you cannot control and the relationships you thought you knew.
Sometimes you are called to go through that. Called NOT to stop in the middle of it because it’s too hard, or too messy or too risky, embarrassing or shameful. Because it might hurt your pride. No.
You were made with a calling no one else in the whole world has, but you.
But that doesn’t mean its going to be easy. In fact, when God has a plan for your life, chances are it’s going to be hard. Because the people and places and things we cling to in this life will be tested. Many will fall away. Many will criticize your nature, your personality, your gifts and abilities as if they are a bad thing or a weakness, but God crafted them in you for His glory. Your apparent weakness is so that His strength might be made known.
Each of us is crafted with a purpose buried in the fertile soil of our heart. We tend it and nurture it by the way we speak to ourselves and the way we allow others to speak to us. This world is not getting any easier but I wonder if it isn’t that you and I were born for such a time as this.
It’s easy to look around and see people living out their purpose. Living out lives called by God to write, teach, sing, play, inspire, counsel, mentor, heal, and love. Everywhere you look, in every profession and vocation, you see people living out this dream. And you and I? We see the highlight reel. We see the pretty images and the status updates that highlight success and achievement and we have a hard time imagining the loss. Let me just tell you plainly: When you commit to follow after God and the call He has placed on your life, there will be loss.
Does that mean we don’t go? That we don’t choose to believe that the glory will be so much greater than losing what we never even had to begin with? I’ll just tell you again plainly: You keep going.
Loss will come, but so will life.
As we commit to follow Him it’s so easy to wonder: where do I fit in? The world already has their amazing voices, what does mine matter? Who am I? What can I give that isn’t already being done, said, lived out so much better than I could do?
And that, my friend, is a lie.
That is the voice of perfection, insecurity, shame and unworthiness. The same loud-mouth voices that get in front of our gifts and try to make us stop. Stop searching, dreaming, living out the plan and purpose planted in us from the beginning. From the very start. I ask you: Who are you NOT to be, live, dance, sing, write, speak, love?
Ephesians 4:1 tells us: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
I struggle to understand what that means practically. We have these regular lives we have to somehow live too. As wives, moms, daughters, homemakers, breadwinners, caregivers, friends — where does this fit? How do we make ourselves worthy of the calling when there is just so much to do? I won’t pretend that I have the answer. I won’t lie and offer you a made-up checklist on how you can live a balanced life because it would be a joke. “Balance” has become this trendy idea that everyone talks about but no one knows what it means. I don’t know how to balance it all but I fail and I try and I keep moving forward in the best way I know how. I don’t know any more about it than that.
But I do know that living our lives all-in with Jesus and committed to the calling He has placed on our life requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of our old self and sinful ways, yes, but also sacrifice of some really good things that we love.
As I have been walking out my faith – following God where He leads – I have noticed a necessary falling away from things of this world. He is changing me. Changing not only the things I love, but the desires of my heart. Where I once craved the mindless numbing of a television show, I now crave the deep introspection of a good book. Where I once craved the company of a group, I now savor the solitude of silence. In my quest to draw closer to Him, He is drawing nearer to me and in the most beautiful, humbling, miraculous ways, He is making me new.
I realize that I was given this life to live it well and to live it for Him. My husband, my three precious, wonderful, amazing little boys – they are my first ministry. The very beating breath of my heart. My calling – the dream God planted in my heart from the very first moment of life – that is my purpose.
Just two things. My family, and my purpose serving God, is the heart of who I am and the soul of my life — and everything else is secondary to these things.
I love people and friends and the same ordinary, everyday things that you do. But unless and until I have accomplished what is needed to be done in my primary relationships – my first responsibilities – then these things wait. And unless and until these secondary things add to my ability to do the first things well, well then…they wait longer. And if those secondary things completely oppose my ability to do the first things, then by God’s grace I must allow them to go.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a simple small-town girl with a passion for loving my family and serving God with all of my heart. I’m trying to make sense of this life, my responsibilities and my calling just as much as you. For each of us that looks different — and that’s okay. It’s meant to. Your dreams aren’t my dreams and my ideas aren’t your ideas. God made us different for very good reason and all of them are good. But I believe when we start a conversation — an honest, open, loving conversation even when (and perhaps especially when) we disagree — that is how we grow. It’s how we try in all our messy humanness to run this race by faith so that at the end of our life we can meet our Father and say I did the best I could with what I had. Father God, thank you for trusting me with little hearts and minds and allowing me to be your hands and feet on this earth.
For me that means starting with first things first, and second things second, so long as they allow or encourage me to keep the first things first.