It’s almost like the deep dark secret of overseas work. That confession, usually made by a woman, sometimes with reasons, other times with self-chastisement hanging onto the words.
“I wasn’t ‘called’ to be here.”
She’s just along for the ride, supporting her husband, her kids, she says. And I cringe if I hear the next words. “I don’t matter here. I don’t make a difference.”
But I sit amazed at her dedication and sacrifice, despite what she believes is a lack of a Word from Above to come here. She came anyway, even though she wasn’t so sure if she matters, if she is special, if she was "called."
I call that faith.
I read recently on a blog about a woman waiting to hear her call to this work, asking God to give it to her. She wants to do it. Her boyfriend wants to go. But she waits anyway, for the “call.”
And I cringe. Why wait? Doesn’t God want to use our desires, our dreams, our gifts? Doesn’t He care that we simply care about making a difference?
I’m somewhere in the middle. For years, I’d wanted to do this overseas thing, with or without a husband. But no big magic words, no moment of heavenly insight, no signs, no deep voice in the night calling my name. Just a gradual awakening in my heart to a world of hurt and a God of healing.
Brad’s story, on the other hand, includes moments of divine clarification, wisdom from above, even, I suppose you could call it, “a calling” to be here. He wants to be here, too. But once upon a time, he wanted other things, things he had to give up to follow this dream.
And we’ve both struggled with wondering , “why?” Why do we feel so inadequate for this? Why is it so hard to do something good? Where is God in all the mess of serving? Why don't we just go home?
I’ve heard, too, people (back home) say they could never do this. This overseas thing. This work. This killing-of-shrews, power-outages, pregnancies-in-tropical-heat, far-away-from-family thing.
Amen to that. I don’t think I can do it either.
I’ve seen, too, the passions—you could even call them “callings” for the least--without the “going overseas.” I cyber-met a woman this week who lives in the States, but started a nonprofit to support an orphanage in Indonesia. She’s never been here. She’s a busy mom. But she’s doing what she can to answer that tug in her heart to do more.
And I’m amazed at her dedication to a people she’s never met. And though she isn’t “going anywhere,” she is definitely going places.
So, what about you? Do you feel “called?” Do you wish you were “called,” and feel like you aren’t? Do you feel like you missed it, maybe weren't listening close enough? Do you think someone else more capable should have been “called” to your life?
Or maybe you think you fulfilled your calling, to motherhood, to overseas work, to your job, years ago. And now you feel like you have nothing.
Next time, I’m going to unpack some of the things that AREN’T true about callings.
I welcome your discussion on this.
photo credit, Paul J Everett