When I decided it was time to leave my dream job with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship it was a confusing time. I knew my decision to join InterVarsity was the best career decision I ever made, rivaled only by the day I decided to leave.
Cue identity crisis. What on earth happened to my calling?
Did I screw it up?
Have diverted myself off the glory road God so lavishly planned out for me?
Where is my identity now?
When I began working in campus ministry in 2000 it was because I felt “called” to it, which is to say, I felt excited about it, and I was good at it, which made it easy for me to find myself in it, identity in all.
This is also true: I fell in love with African-American college students of which the job was hiring applicants. I was uniquely suited to fulfill this role based on where life had taken me. I hadn’t thought much on weighty matters such as “calling” & “dream jobs.” I just desperately wanted to do something that honored God with my life, so I did.
Once I realized I had a cause and a voice, I did it.
I never bothered to waste time wondering if I was the right one to do it, or if my being a woman had anything to do with my qualifications.
I was attending I.V.’s national black student conference when the speaker invited 600-ish students to publicly acknowledge the fields they were going into. By the tens and twenties I watched students stand, planning lives in law, medicine, engineering and education. It struck a deep chord in my heart when the preacher asked how many of us were headed into full-time ministry and only 5 stood.
When he made further inquiry on how many were planning to go overseas into full time missions, the number dropped to just one.
All manner of holy discontent rose up within my angry bones over our lack of gratitude for what God had done in our lives through campus ministry.
Who, I wondered, will go out to reach African-American students?
Calling, for me, came as I realized, I couldn’t not do it.
Though the trials were many and though I was never in want of growing pains, my 16 combined years in InterVarsity both as staff and student were in so many ways, a dream. My time in I.V. was a dream I never intended to end.
Would I ever enjoy a calling more?
Would I ever be as challenged, as focused, as driven?
I started to see my time in I.V. was not the sum of my being nor what made me acceptable to God. It’s mildly comical now, but I actually let myself believe there would be nothing left of me if I stepped away from my “calling,” even though my “calling” had become a distracted nightmare.
Besides my aforementioned identity issues, I was working alongside my husband at a time when our marriage had fallen to a million little pieces and while I was facing the darkest demons of my life, including depression, but not limited to a colicky newborn.
Just those small issues.
Deep down I knew it wasn’t the husband that needed replacing, it was me, my heart of stone, my problems and consequently my job. I foolishly believed my husband and children were not a part of that “calling” and allowed them to play second fiddle to the freak show that had become my life.
It wasn’t until I left I glimpsed my new calling.
I needed to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength and love my neighbor as myself.
The first neighbor I had to concern myself with was the one laying next to me in bed. Also, I had to relearn how to engage, invest, prepare, train an nurture my two sons. Second order of business, I found a j-o-b to contribute to our family’s welfare. Third, I needed to forget my “life’s calling” for the moment. In other words, not worry about future opportunities to write, speak, lead, give, extend mercy, mentor or disciple, all things I love to do.
With all of 7 months hind sight under my belt I can say this:
Sometimes we make “calling” more complicated than it needs to be.
I imagine at least half of you need to move forward in doing something you love and feel uniquely gifted to do though sky writing has yet to happen. Probably the rest of you are more like me, completely ignoring the basics in favor of a grand “calling,” or “dream job.”
Move forward in faith and simple obedience.
You will not throw God for a loop.