The former rector of Grace Church told me that when a person is trying to discern God’s call for their life, it is important to listen to clues given by others. God very often speaks through people along the way. Fair enough. Discernment (usually) doesn’t involve anything so dramatic as a burning bush telling you to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, so it only makes sense that many of the clues will come from other people. It’s important to listen to the people who know you well, because they can see things you may not be able to, but it’s also important to be open to hearing things from people who don’t know you all that well. The people you’re close to are used to seeing you in a particular way, and when you look at moving in directions that move you out of that “mold,” they may be too close to the situation and too wrapped in their own expectations to be able to see what direction God actually wants you to go.
So, armed with this advice, I’ve been listening. What have people been telling me? What clues am I getting to reveal God’s plan for me?
My brother told me that I simply must try out for musicals, for one. Which is flattering, but I don’t think it’s quite what God wants for me.
The one I’ve been hearing for the longest is that I should be a writer. Well, I write for the church newsletter, I write my blog, and I write other things when I get a chance. I have stories to tell, to be sure. But I don’t see being a writer as an exclusive career. It’s something I am and something I do, but if it’s all I do, what would I write about?
Another I’ve heard with some frequency is that I should be a physical therapist / massage therapist. This generally comes from friends who have aches and pains, starting in college and continuing into the now. I admit that the little bit I know how to do is extremely satisfying. A little stretch here, a gentle rub there, and pain is gone or at least relieved. How cool is that? There’s a sort of warmth I feel in my hands when I help people this way, and I envision that warmth and light transferring into the person’s muscles as I work. A PT may be the closest thing to a miracle worker western medicine has. People who couldn’t walk can walk again; people who were in pain can use their hands again. It’s really very awe-inspiring to think of.
But then, since I’ve started going to Grace Church and becoming very involved, a few people have asked me if I have considered being a priest or a deacon. And I’ve had some very strange dreams that seem to indicate I may be called in this direction. Hmm. The idea of being up in front of a congregation, saying or singing the words that consecrate the bread and wine, and then bringing that gift to the people is a very appealing one. I have a decided interest in theology and philosophy, and I seem to do well working with others. But how much of that is my own ego? When people ask me, is it because they think the church needs younger priests, or because they really sense that I am called this way? If I peel back the layers of myself, I have to admit that the purer idea of what I think clergy should do is more in line with a deacon’s function. These are the servants, the ones known as God’s hands in the world. They are the ones who help, who comfort, who are simply there for anyone who needs them.
So what am I supposed to do with all of this? I feel stirrings that might be a call in more than one direction. Is this normal? Am I supposed to bounce from path to path?
Maybe I am supposed to invent something entirely new. Maybe I’m supposed to discover some path that combines a deacon’s ways of healing and comforting the spirit with a PT’s ways of healing and comforting the body. Physical manipulation with a spiritual component, maybe. Pray while working to alleviate someone’s aches and pains. (Maybe even sing the prayers, so I can work the musical gift in there too.) And then of course I’d want to write about what I discovered, what God led me to….
But for now, all I can do is pray that guidance will be given as I need it.