Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Call Waiting

Note from the writer:

While I do not presume to think that everyone believes the way I do, or that they should, I also do not intend to upset, anger, or offend anyone with the following blog...


"What do you want to be when you grow up?" A question asked of children many times. A question I've asked myself many times. I may be a young adult (approaching just plain "adult"), be a mom and have a stable job, but that doesn't mean I know what I want out of my life. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I wanted to be a music teacher. After I graduated high school I wanted to be a music editor. Secretly, I've always wanted to be a professional singer, but I get nervous every time I get on a stage. Now I'm a Sales Support Coordinator (fancy name for Administrative Assistant) for a sales team for a top health insurance company. How did that happen? Life, I guess. When you have a kid and get divorced, necessity overcomes passion. You do what you have to, instead of what you want to. I still don't know what I want to do. My associate minister (and close friend) has hinted that I should go into the ministry. Others have seen that quality in me, but I'm just not sure about it. It's a lot more school and I'd have to seriously cut back my hours of paid work to study. I don't know how good I would be at ministering to other people, but I know that if I don't try, I'll never know. It's like learning to swim: it is scary at first, and you don't succeed at everything right away, but after many lessons, you are more comfortable with the water, though still aware of it's power. But it's a pretty big leap from Admin to Minister. But isn't that what the ministry is all about? Faith? Faith that this is the path I should choose? Faith that this is what God is calling me to do? What does God call us to do?

In my weekly Bible study, we discuss the origins of our religion and denomination. Last week we discussed what God calls us to do. To seek justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). To me, this can be done by anyone and is followed by many, even without knowing it. Seek justice: to help those who have been wronged and find an appropriate punishment for the wrongdoers. Love kindness: reward those who help their fellow man, and look for ways we can help others. Walk humbly with God: know that even though we are doing the right things in life, we are not to be considered gods or better than others; we were made in God's image, yet we are not equal to God. At last week's study, we also discussed how different people are called by God to minister in different ways: some are Bible study leaders, some teach Sunday school, some get the sanctuary ready for each worship session (in my Senior Minister's sermon last week, he spoke of how worship is what we do in the sanctuary, and service is what we do when we leave; hence my use of the word session instead of service), etc. But God does not call us to do things only for the church. God calls us to serve in different ways. Some are called to be firefighters or police officers: protecting the citizen from danger. Some are called to be social workers: offering help and a compassionate ear to those who are in need. Some are called to be teachers: helping our children to learn of the world around them and their place in it.

Perhaps my calling is to minister to others in the church, or perhaps it is to minister to the members of my employer to ensure that they get the health coverage they need. I enjoy helping people to make sure everything is the way it should be so they don't have to worry, but I also enjoy the anonymity of it. No one stops me on the street to say "Thank you" or "Help me please!" My sales reps come to me with the problems, I fix them, and they communicate the correction to their members. I like that the members don't know who I am, just that I exist to solve their problems. Perhaps this is related to my stage fright; I am as uncomfortable with praise as I am with having the spotlight on me. And also of failure; if I cannot get a problem resolved, I am not the one who has to tell the member the bad news. I don't deal well when others are disappointed in me.

How do we know when we are called by God to do something? Is it by listening to our closest friends on what they observe in us? Is it by doing something we enjoy that helps others and not just ourselves? Is it by doing something we excel at, or something that challenges us? Should our calling be easy to transition into, or something that we might struggle with? Do callings change as we get older? Are we called when we are ready, or when we least expect it? Is it possible to know as children what we are called to do? And should we help others hear their call? Perhaps it is hard to hear, and we must help them tune in. What does a calling sound like? God doesn't use text messages or e-mail, or even the United States Postal Service to deliver His message of what He wants us to do with our lives. How can we be certain we aren't misinterpreting the message?

It is said that everyone has a gift, something they are good at. What if you do not know what your gift is? Does it have to be something grand, like singing, or praying, or healing, or defending your country? Or can it be serving soup to the homeless, or auditing taxes, or restocking retail store shelves? Is it possible that the little things we are good at are somehow serving the greater good, just one small cog in the big machine of life?

Maybe it's like making a grocery list. Find all the different ingredients and figure out what you can make with them. Let's see if that works:

(Positive) Things I Am Good At

  • Singing
  • Cooking
  • Managing spreadsheets
  • Time management (of others, not myself)
  • Listening
  • Teaching (how to tie shoelaces, how to read, how to write, how to paint, how to line-dance)
  • Organizing (again, not for myself)
  • Correcting grammar/spelling

I need to fill in the blanks. I need to find more things that I am good at, without chastising myself for sounding too proud or arrogant. Perhaps these are the things that my friends and family can help me figure out. I'm sure there are other qualities that are missing, things I either consider too negative to include (procrastination, wasting time, spending money on things I don't need, writing long-winded blogs) or things I don't see or don't think count as a positive quality. Maybe part of being called to service is doing something you don't think you can do. Like being the chair of the Christian Education committee at church (thanks, O!) or going to seminary. I'm not sure callings are supposed to be easy. I think they have to challenge us so that we can help challenge others. Being called to do something not everyone can do probably takes a different set of skills than the average person has.

So, when God does call, how do we know it? What do we listen or watch for? Should we always be waiting to hear it, or will He whisper it to us when we're not paying attention? Perhaps the other people in our lives have heard the call for us and are waiting for the right time to give us the message. Does that mean I have heard my friends' or daughter's call already? How do I know what message to give them? When will I know when they are ready to hear it? Is 4 too young to receive a call? Is 13? 29?

I just love it when I remember that God works in mysterious ways, and it is not for us to know His plan until He is ready to reveal it to us. Until then, just keep your ears and eyes open, I suppose. The next text message you receive may be a hint as to what God is requiring of you.

My fearless child, friends and I on Tower of Terror at DCA

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