Tag Archives: Calling
Success is hardly the neutral definition provided in the dictionary, especially in these United States. Success is loaded with all kinds of connotations of material gain or notoriety, impact or well roundedness, but the most invisible and perhaps most powerful connotation of success is failure. If we do not succeed we fail. Check out this amazing interview by Alain de Botton about how the American desire to crown a winner has created an equally powerful need to punish a loser.
Our faith of course calls us to turn all of this on its head, to crown the loser and send the winner to the back of the line. Or does it? In Jesus’ time were we really talking about winners and losers or were we talking about the fortunate and the unfortunate, those who had (through no fault of their own) and those who did not. This is a very different thing. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about redistribution or even equal distribution, but about lack of ownership altogether of wealth and power and relationships and hope. Only then do you really see the end of the vicious cycle of winners and losers.
As the year begins to wind down and you are tempted to give thanks for your successes and lament your failures, I hope you’ll take some time to reframe, to reconsider, and to redefine the ideas you have about what success means and whether you can ever really have or want it. What else does God call us to value to give meaning to our lives? What does God value?
“What am I doing with my life?”
I ask this question in jest whenever I see someone accomplish what I could only hope to (like making this amazing video). But really, it is the ever present question, the one that rattles around in my chest and head every time I stop long enough to breathe and look around. That’s part of the unsettled nature of this moment in life, I guess. Or maybe it is just part of life in general.
I have this image in my head that discernment is a task I could accomplish in an afternoon if I really just committed the time and engaged in some sort of linear process. I would begin by looking at my life, my skills, my passions, then I would ask myself a series of questions and suddenly my vocation would emerge, clear as day.
But really discernment, in my experience, has been a lot more like this video.
The me I want to be, the me God is calling me to be is like an invisible being that I’m constantly chasing through the woods. I wait for a shadow or a change in the way the dust is blowing and then I have an instant to throw color where I think he is in hopes of catching a glimpse of how he moves, what he looks like, where he’s going. It’s beautiful and painstaking and frustrating as hell.
But every time I encounter him I come one step closer to being him.
Being in grad school I have the luxury of spending all my time chasing this image of who I want to be. But just like in my former working world, it is so easy to lose focus. It is so easy to get caught up in someone else’s idea of what the process should be, to just create another to do list, when all I really want and need is to pursue the image of my own wonderfully created soul.
And when I pursue that, when I can emphasize my being over my doing and seek ardently for it in all its unknowableness, I know I’ll begin both being and doing what God has called me to do and be.