She sat with me in silent tears. It was 7am in a busy little breakfast joint. The hum of morning regulars surrounded us and, ironically, shrouded our conversation in privacy. “What am I called to,” she asked through tears. “I don’t think I have ever known.” The litany of things she had considered to be her calling was laid out: I’m passionate about design, I’m really good at marketing, I have two kids who need my attention. But not one thing on the list satisfactorily answered the question of “calling.” No one talent or passion or purpose could sufficiently boil down to direct her life, both in the day-to-day and in the grand scheme of life.
I remember my own similar seasons of struggle. As a high school senior with graduation right around the corner, I anxiously surveyed my college study options, fearful that I would pick the wrong path and miss my calling. Similarly, in college, I worried that my best gifts would remain undeveloped, that I would register for the wrong classes, that I would chose the wrong internship, and, in doing so, fail to live out my calling. Even now, in adulthood, with a myriad of opportunities around me, various ventures I could pursue, I want a “calling” to filter these options through. I want a single calling to direct my decisions, but am left in the complexity of navigating these choices without.
I know we are not alone. Some women seem to have that maternal instinct that has always pointed them towards being a stay at home mother to multiple children, and others knew in childhood they wanted to be a teacher and are thriving in education careers. Other women knew as they played with wood blocks on their childhood bedroom floor they would be an architect; others realized while leading their Girl Scout troop they were made for leadership and would be a CEO, President, Principal of a corporation.
But some of us, many of us, are baffled by this notion of calling. Some of us have never had that sensation of knowing exactly what we’re called to; others of us know what we’re called to, but are in a season of life that excludes that very thing. We are asking ourselves the same question: What am I called to?
In uncertain times like these, when our own selves seem elusive and our big-picture plans evade us, there are callings that we can be absolutely certain of.
You are called to grow in Christ
Every believer is called to continuously grow in Christ. Regardless of where we are at in our spiritual journey, we are all to be growing deeper in knowing Christ (2 Peter 3:18). At the end of the day, we can be working in the field we are called to, doing the daring tasks of faith we feel called to, but if we have neglected to know Christ more in the process we have missed the point. All believers are definitively called to grow in Christ. For Christians, the end of all things is life with Christ; we would be missing the point entirely if we lived our lives working toward another calling, but neglecting to grow in Him. When you wonder what you are called to, remember your primary life-orientation should be towards growing in Christ.
You are called to obedience
The Scriptures teach us that the outworking of knowing Christ is obedience to Christ:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:3-6
It is easy in difficult seasons of struggle to let ourselves off the hook. Especially when we are struggling with areas related to personal identity, which is intimately related to our notion of calling, we can develop a tendency to excuse ourselves from obedience. I have often thought, I know I am called to love my husband well today, but life has been hard so I’ll give myself a pass. Or, I know I’m called to be in the Word, but things feel messy right now and I think that is justified. But in the midst of our struggle, we are called to continued obedience out of love for God (1 John 5:3).
You are called to love your neighbor
When we struggle internally, it is easy to turn inward. I remember a season in which this was particularly true. I was in a season of wondering what God would have for me in the future. My heart was tired of asking God to show me, to lead me, and to teach me. While it was good and right to struggle through these questions, I notices that I slowly started to turn inward. The only thoughts I had were about myself, the only prayers I prayed were for myself. While wondering about my own calling, I neglected our calling as Christians to love those around me. No matter what season we are in, we are to foster an outward posture towards those around us. As followers of Christ, one calling we can always count on is the call to love our neighbors – whether that be those in our church, our families, or our literal neighborhood.