I don’t think there is one calling on each person’s life and if they miss it, it’s gone forever. Nobody is destined to live a life without purposeful, joyful work.
Part of my calling (believe it or not) is writing. I loved to write stories as a little girl. As a teenager I moved on to poetry. Then I stopped writing. There is no specific event that I can recall that put the kibosh on my writing. It was just something that I stopped making time for.
Maybe my 20 something self wanted grander adventures than notebooks full of scribbles that nobody reads. Maybe she wanted to be famous for something more.
Something a little sad happened when I quit writing. Slowly negative thoughts started to creep in. So quietly at first that I didn’t notice when they arrived until it was too late.
“Writing was just something you played at.”
“You weren’t actually very good at it any way.”
“That was something you used to do. You couldn’t pick it up again.”
Eventually I ended up forgetting that I ever had an inkling of a craft. My talent for arranging words didn’t even register on my radar anymore.[bctt tweet=”Eventually I ended up forgetting that I ever had an inkling of a craft. “]
Babies came and filled up a big portion of my time. Mothering in all of it’s raw, hard, amazing, glory, must have surely been my life’s entire purpose. How could anything else compare to this?
But my soul cried out for more meaning and I went hunting. (Don’t worry, I didn’t leave my precious children unattended and go on safari or anything like that).
I didn’t really ever find the glitz and glamour I was searching for (thank goodness!) but in true Hollywood fashion my life has come made a circle and returned to writing. (you know among the various other intriguing things that occupy my time).
Even with my return to writing I still feel like there must be more. My existence on earth can not be bent toward a single work that is beautiful and fills me to overflowing. The purpose of my work can not be to help me endure the drudgery of housework and errands until I can sit down with my laptop and compose essays once again.
Thus I decided to follow the advice of Jeff Goins from his book The Art of Work (in case you are new here… I really love this book) and ask some trusted people in my life to answer the following question:
What do I do better than anyone else you know?
I chose people I believe love me deeply because those are pretty much the only folks you can ask a question like that and not me judged as a narcissist.
The answers I got back were deep and thoughtful. The things my people had noticed about the ways I was living life well were true and I was mostly blind to them.
“There are so many things you do well but I think the thing you do better than anyone else I know is that you love the underdog. Not in a Hollywood inspirational movie kind of way that demands a jaw dropping change in the under dog, but in a “let me love you where you are” kind of way. Even when it makes you uncomfortable…… even when it makes ME uncomfortable!”
“Of all of my friends Sarah stands out with her love and passion for tradition… She never ceases to amaze me at how special she can create an ordinary occurrence into and wonderful memory for all involved.”
My mom told me that I can make an outfit out of nothing. Perhaps that talent is due to the fact that I played The Paper Bag Princess
My dad’s answer to my question was “That’s easy. Telling stories.”
I can see where each of these answers fits into places in my life. But not a single one would I have claimed as a vocation. Maybe that’s because I don’t see myself as being particularly practiced at each of these things.
Being an expert is not what defines a calling. We all start at the bottom and fumble along, picking up skills here and there. We listen to our lives and ask others to chime in on what they see. Then bit by bit we piece together the callings we have always known and the ones we have been missing to create the collage of one beautiful meaningful life.
I challenge you to ask a few trusted people “What do I do better than anyone else you know?” Then come back and tell me about your experience.
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