…from the “calling”.
I was at my part-time job on Saturday where I work with preschoolers, a few with developmental disabilities and/or social-emotional difficulties. I had been having an ongoing conversation with a parent over the past few Saturdays about some concerns, something that wasn’t necessarily outside of my job description but was maybe a tad bit more than what was required. I hadn’t thought anything of it really. Before we said our goodbyes on Saturday, the parent looks at me and says, “Thank you so much for everything. You’re so good at what you do. I can definitely tell that this is your calling. And that’s half the battle right there – knowing your calling.”
I smiled awkwardly. I hadn’t thought about this as a calling; I was simply working a part-time job to put some extra coins in my pocket. But it was something about his words that resonated deeply with me. Had he come to preach in 3 sentences or less? Why, yes. Yes, he had.
I’ve always been the person who has thirsted to know exactly where my lane is (or if I’m supposed to create a lane). I’ve had quite elaborate dreams and daydreams of possibilities about my future. Some of it has made sense and some of it has simply not been what I wanted to see/hear. Among those personal undesirable things that people have tried to put on me is teaching and speaking.
I have been teaching since I was 15. Whether it was Sunday School, Bible Study, tutoring, mentoring, or being inside of the classroom, my life has been positioned in some way or another to be pouring into others. Lately, people have been telling me that I have been called to speak or use my voice to help people. This has been from people I know very well to complete strangers. This scares me to death because I do not want to mess up.
Some run to straight to their calling but I have had the inclination to run away. I can’t even explain why I run, except I’m so fearful that I’ll be wrong, I’ll say wrong, I’ll do wrong. The responsibility I feel for the call that I haven’t yet accepted is already great. The fulfillment I have every day when I leave the classroom is real. So why can’t I just run to it?
One of my deepest fears has always been that people don’t really listen to me when I talk. I don’t even know what place that fear grew from but it is a legitimate fear for me. It does not matter how much this fear is proven to be unfounded, I always find myself struggling with this fear especially when faced with opportunities to teach and speak. It is the reason why I’ve clung to writing so hard – I don’t have to directly know who or who is not “listening” and at the very least, who isn’t “listening” does not have to directly effect me. But what would happen if I simply positioned myself to step just a little beyond what’s comfortable? What is the worst that can happen?
The funny thing is that the way that my life is coming together now is that I’m finding myself in more places to use my voice. I’d love to become a renowned blogger but I’m realizing that that probably won’t happen. It’s another painful round of letting go of what I want, which is mostly based on playing it safe because of insecurities, and allowing myself the permission to sit with all that comes that place of purpose – the joy, the fulfillment, the pain, the drain, the destiny.
One of my sorors in her blog this week quoted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them”. This has replayed in my mind over and over since I read it. By running from my purpose I have managed to argue for my limitations, effectively knocking myself out of the box before I even have the chance to show myself what can happen. What good are dreams if you constantly tell yourself that they are just good dreams, too wide or too expansive for your reality?
There is no need for any of us to do the dirty work of kicking ourselves out of the box. There are too many other things that will try to do that for us. If you can run away from it, you can surely run towards it. Either road will have obstacles, bumps, and unexpected turns but at least on the road to your calling you have the “why”.
So I guess there are some adjustments to be made. Maybe I was made for the classroom…or to be talking in front of people..or both. Me, the introverted and painfully shy Ashley who has discovered ways to not be so socially awkward and anxiety-prone around people. Somehow, it all makes sense to me, even as I’m working through it.
And it’ll make sense to you.