If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou unlucky one,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone
– from Ekla Cholo Re
“It’s the mystery of the calling. You just know it’s right.” One of the friars at the San Agustin church told us after I asked him what made him want to join the order. For some reason I understood exactly what he meant. In a world that needs an assurance for each step of the way, and needs so much external validation to decide on what’s right, it was refreshing to hear someone say that. Much of life’s most amazing things won’t be delivered in exact formulas or black and white. The process of things like love, purpose, and growth are filled with experiences that don’t feel anything like love, purpose, and growth. Sometimes they feel like the opposite. Yet despite our feelings it is those who respond to these mysterious calls and persevere towards love, purpose, and growth, even as their journey takes unexpected turns, as all journeys do, who actually enjoy the fruits of each.
And if we don’t respond? We’ll miss it obviously. Too many people think that we can wish things to being. That we can have great lives from simply agreeing to good ideas, that we can build a great career by sharing articles, that our relationships will last simply because we hold a certain opinion. A real response is an action not a sentiment. It’s not just saying “I’m sorry.” It’s contrition. If you don’t know what that word means look it up. It’s not just liking an article. It’s living it out. It’s not just listing faith goals or claiming things. It’s pursuing them.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that we can lose things. It’s a good lesson to learn. When we don’t respond to our calling, we’ll miss it, maybe even lose it.
What’s the secret to pursuing a call when the process of that call seems difficult? Trust the one calling you. This is where faith comes in. Every time I feel discouraged, feel like a failure, or just completely perplexed, I stop trying to process my way out of things, I stay still and listen for His voice. Like with the disciple Peter, Christ’s voice leads us on to walk on rough seas, and as long as we look to Him, we will not sink beneath the many many calls drowning us with expectations of us.
The secret to pursuing your call when it’s difficult, when it’s dark and uncertain, is to remember the Call is not so much about the WHAT, but about the WHO behind it, and when uncertainty surrounds your WHAT, fix your eyes on the WHO.
This is also why the WHO is immensely important to get right. Too bad that sometimes the only way to learn this is the hard way.