I was barely a young adult, just trying to figure out what in the world God had planned for my life. There were so many options! And me being me, I wanted to know all the answers–now! It was (and still is) so important to me to be living in God’s purpose for my life. I unloaded my thoughts and concerns as I sat across from the youngish priest. He listened intently to what I had to say, nothing seeming to surprise him. After a meaningful pause, he finally spoke. “The calling of lifting up the world…You definitely have that.” He strongly suggested that I look into a specific order of nuns who literally laid down their lives to pray for the world. I was a little taken aback. His suggestion was unexpected, and definitely did not resonate with me. It was very difficult for me to imagine staying in the same place, doing nothing except praying (and living with a bunch of women–oh my!).
Over a decade later, God’s call and picture of my life has become much more clear. It took a lot of time, prayer, spiritual leaders, and life experiences to pinpoint. It took showing up, day by day, following the Holy Spirit’s nudges and walking through open doors. And this call was most definitely NOT to be a cloistered nun (thank You, Jesus!). I ended up spending a good portion of my career working with refugees and immigrants. As a counselor, I walk with people from all over the country and world, and assist with bearing their burdens. Many around the world ask me for prayers or advice. That priest from my college years had it partially right. I DID have the calling of lifting up the world. Yet, thanks be to God, the specific way He had for me to live that call was not to be a cloistered nun. It was to serve people from all over the world, and to provide material, emotional, and spiritual support.
Sometimes your calling will look different than you or others expected. I’m thankful that my calling was not to be a nun who lifted up the entire world while living secluded in a convent. (Though I’m in awe and have a great admiration for the women who do live that life and are called to it! Our world definitely needs them.) Fr. S. saw one option of how I could live this call. But God knew the whole picture of my life. He knew that I would go on to work with refugees and other people from around the world, and absolutely love it. He knew that one day I would finally decide to enter school and become a counselor, going on to work with people facing many difficult issues in their lives. I am so grateful for all the ways He has made His purpose clear in my life. It’s a gift that He creates each and every one of us with a purpose to live out on this earth!
Sometimes others have different ideas about your calling. While they may be well-intentioned, they may not be speaking completely from the Holy Spirit. Because you are a young person faithfully following God, that does not mean that the volunteer coordinator from church can push you into every ministry. Not every one of them is your call. Maybe your family has traditionally followed a certain career path, and expected you to take over the family business. Yet, you’ve felt the pull on your heart to follow a completely different career path. Maybe you grew up in a tight-knit family who all live in a certain area, and you are ready to travel the world, or at least live somewhere else. Maybe a spiritual leader thought your call would look one way. Maybe you thought your call would look one way, and life looks totally different. God often has a way of surprising us in our lives! And oftentimes, these events will even surprise others. Whatever your call, and no matter how different it looks, take courage! God is with you. And He’ll send people on your journey to walk with you. Even in the questions and the haze of being unsure how this will work, God’s got it!
It’s not about how you or others picture the call. It’s all about God’s complete vision for your call, and the way He is equipping you and leading you to live that out.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10