Do you feel called to what you are doing?
If you don’t in some way feel this sense of dutiful wonder, stop reading and find something you feel called to. Seriously, stop wasting time only half-caring or not caring at all. I’m not saying quit your job if you aren’t immensely happy—jobs aren’t supposed to be immensely happy in the first place: if you have one that is, count your blessings. What I’m saying is that life is too short to drift passionlessly, and it is very hard to live a life of fullness without some good, homegrown passion.
But if you do feel called to what you are driving towards in life—vocationally and/or personally—do you have a plan for when the tire blows? That is the thing I’ve always felt to be true about life, when I find a clear direction and feel really good about it, adversity will arise. And the subsequent truth is this: when adversity arises, the likelihood of me quitting also increases.
Recently, I went to a ballgame with a friend who—full of bravado—announced he would eat twenty hot dogs. Eventually the bravado was replaced with actual hot dogs, and he realized just how big the number twenty can actually be. He made a goal, and adversity arose: he was full, and also he remembered stadium hot dogs are pretty gross. So he threw in the towel after eight measly dogs. When adversity arose, he quit. Fortunately, his goal was stupid in the first place; it was not a thing he was called to, so it was easy to let go.
But so it goes also with things we feel called to: writing that book, starting that business, volunteering for that charity, beginning to have a prayer life, reading a good book, fighting for our marriage, loving our friends, disciplining our children. The list goes on and on of things we feel deeply committed to achieving, and yet things we are willing to let go because of a lack of time or a surplus of criticism.
And it is in just these times, when we need to remind ourselves of calling. That we don’t have a choice in the matter—that is the essence, after all, of being called. We don’t call ourselves; we are called ourselves from something bigger and beyond. Victor Frankl knew this well. He suffered tremendous hardship in a Nazi Concentration Camp, and the temptation was to give up hope. Many prisoners were committing suicide to avoid a worse end, and while this seemed the easier road, he began to see his situation—bleak though it was—as something he was called to. He didn’t understand the “why” of it all, but he knew that being called was enough; it had to be.
We probably aren’t going through that level of persecution, yet we quit far easier on the good (and hard) things laid out in advance for us to walk in. When the going gets tough, we find something easier to do. But still that whisper reverberates in our hearts like a shout—that calling voice, unrelenting in its pursuit of purpose in our little lives.
So we should answer it and persevere, and one way to do this is to ready ourselves for adversity. We don’t prepare for the sunny days, for it is the rain that requires preparation. For me, encouragement is the umbrella, keeping dry the yearning of my heart. When the tire flattens, encouragement is the spare tire. Encouragement reminds me—when every other thing might be railing against it—that I am called to this. I am called. I am called. I am called.
I keep a folder in my email entitled “Encouragement.” When fear roars about my life, stalking my hopes and dreams, I open the folder and read. There I find wise quotes, verses, and loving words from friends—it is there I am reminded that this is not about me and my tender feelings or supple desires—it is bigger than that. It is a calling. It is purpose. It is a mission. And missions are made to be completed or to die trying. Because it is only when we are on mission, when purpose fuels, that we are truly alive anyway. That is life abundant. And sometimes, if you are like me, you just need a reminder.
So what is your folder, and what are you filling it with? What voices are you listening to? The ones cheering you on toward the finish line, one rugged step at a time, or the catcalls of a tireless enemy?
I hope this finds you well, but beyond that, I hope it finds you called.