1I was raised in a subculture that insisted I could do anything I wanted to, be anything I wanted to be, if I were willing to make the effort. The message was that both the universe and I were with out limits, given enough energy and commitment on my part. God made these things that way, and all I had to do was get with the program.
My troubles began, of course, when I started to slam into my limitations, especially in the form of failure.
I go back and recall my most disappointing failures, and they prove to be difficult to confront without some sense of bitterness, false encouragement, denial, or the need to make excuses for myself. Hurt and frustration make me want to brush off those memories and run away from the truth, because it wasn’t a simple case of lacking drive. I was geared up and highly motivated. Passionate even. It wasn’t a simple case of lack of persistence either (which may just demand that one extra mile), because I believe I was persistent — I got knocked down, stood up, and then tried at it again. I can neither blame unfriendly circumstances nor just label it as the time in my life where I encountered that long streak of bad luck. Deep breath. That’s scapegoating. What it is really, is… that there are limits to what I can do. I slammed into my limitations. I had a false sense of who I was. I had the wrong idea of what I was capable of. My ‘need to succeed’ mindset and my fear of disappointing my father were preventing me from uncovering the truth behind who I truly was. I am not my father, nor am I that person that my peers used to look up to back in college. They just have an idea of who I am. And I am not my dream either (I remember writing down on a piece of paper once: Worldwide Executive Creative Director of Multi-Award Winning Advertising Agency), I don’t want to be just some label. To be honest, I didn’t even know what that label meant. To truly understand who I am and who I am not, I have to let go of these false perceptions.
It is painful.
But it’s ok. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed.” For God is always there.
So, I am being ruthlessly honest with myself (and definitely no self-pity or false humility involved) about these things. I have to know exactly who I am, what my gifts are, and my capabilities and limitations in order to know exactly where I currently am in terms of being a work-in-progress. The how of everything, I lift up to the Lord as I walk together with Him on this journey.
2We are on a mission from God… Our calling is not so much choosing as it is listening… Over time, your heart will seek to make it’s longings known.
As I am taking the time I have now to rediscover and put into practice the gifts that I have been given, and work on some of my areas of weakness, I am also waiting and listening for my calling. I only hope that when the time comes, I would be ready. I think it is important for us to prepare ourselves.
2Everyone in Scripture who said yes to their calling had to pay a high price. So will you and I.
Sometimes it will mean putting in hours of work and effort when you would rather not. Will you do it?
Maybe your calling will not involve the kind of recognition or wealth or influence you had always hoped for. Can you let that go?
Sometimes you will devote yourself to a dream — like Jeremiah — and things will not turn out the way you wanted, and you will experience crushing disappointment and discouragement. Can you persist?
Somewhere along the line, people will oppose you, disapprove of you, or block what you are trying to do. Can you endure?
Maybe it will take a long time to discern your calling. Maybe it will involve much trial and error and many false starts. And we tend to be impatient people, wanting immediate results. Will you be patient?
1Myth of the Limitless Self. Parker Palmer.
2If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. John Ortberg.