The dictionary defines calling as:
The word is used, a lot, in this place. A calling is the reason most, if not all, people are enrolled in seminary. They feel this impulse to follow the desire that God has placed on their hearts and in their minds. They put themselves through class after class, exploring the depth of what their vocation may entail, discussing and arguing with theologians, pouring themselves into reading, and studying, more reading, and writing paper after paper, followed only by more reading.
But what about those of us who are not the students? Those of us who came here, to this place, supporting our spouse, encouraging them in following their call…where is our calling in all of that?
I was blessed last week to attend a conference in Atlanta. It is a conference for young Christian leaders. Okay, so I consider myself neither young, nor a leader, but Ann Voskamp was scheduled to be there, so I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to attend. (In case you aren’t familiar with who Ann Voskamp is, she is the author of “One Thousand Gifts” and has a wonderful blog: www.aholyexperience.com). There were a variety of speakers and preachers, and the theme of the conference was “Change Makers”. During the course of the three days of preaching, worshiping, singing, listening, and learning, I found myself to be challenged, convicted, and inspired. It was a time of renewal for me, a filling of my soul. I hadn’t realized how empty I had become from the pouring out of myself until I was being poured into.
There were many moments over the course of the conference that I felt convicted. There were very few distinct words that I can quote at this moment, but for me, the overall theme that resonated with my heart was the need to know that I am called. That it isn’t just my husband who has a calling. I do. We do. My family does.
I have had a hard time living into this as we’ve journeyed here in seminary. Though I have always supported and encouraged my husband in his calling, I have always thought of myself in the support role, that this was his calling, not ours. One of the first times I ever heard someone say that it is the entire family that is called into ministry, not just the individual, it caused me to pause. But I pushed it off, thinking that if we as a family are being called, that is great.
Once he graduates.
Once he is appointed in a church.
Once things start to happen in his ministry…
That is when I can get involved, that is when I can be “called” into ministry with him.
But not now. Now is just a time for me to be the supportive spouse. The one to work, make a little money to pay the bills, the one to chauffeur kids around. I left my calling back in Minnesota, when I had to leave my business, when I realized I couldn’t practice massage here in Kentucky without a lot of hoops to jump through, when I couldn’t find employment in our first year here.
I have been humbled, bowed low now, as I realize I have a calling. It is to live out the life I’ve been given.
Right at this place, in this moment.
Perhaps it isn’t what I envisioned, what I was planning. Perhaps that is the beauty of what happens when God calls us. He calls us to minister to those around us, to be His hands, His feet, right where we have been planted, whether it be for a short season or a long one. I do not have to do grand things, or be someone or something that I’m not. I just have to lean into the life I’ve been given, living it with reckless abandon and joy, offering it up to the one who has given me this beautiful life.
At this moment, I am called to do what some may think are little things. Parenting. Being a wife, a mother. Working in my corner of the world, trying to encourage those who live in this community. Being a friend. A listener. Being a part of the healing academy.
But it is the little things that make a great impact.
Perhaps you, too, have found yourself feeling adrift. Feeling as though you are here to be the support system and nothing else. Perhaps you have struggled with finding your purpose and place here, in this place. Perhaps you, too, are wondering why your life, your calling, feels as though it is on hold as your spouse lives into theirs.
Let me encourage you. You are not alone. You are not the only one who feels this, who knows the ache of feeling purpose-less.
The beauty of living here, in this place, is that we have people who can help you realize YOUR calling, your purpose. Through spiritual direction sessions with Equipping Lydia, or healing prayer sessions with Peg Hutchins or members of the Healing Academy, you can be affirmed, prayed for, listened to. Or perhaps you just need to be soaked in Christian love through a Walk to Emmaus weekend, or have quiet time with God at the Abbey of Gethsemani.
Know this, dear ones: your time here is not a mistake, a holding pattern before your life and your spouse’s ministry (and yours) begins. This is a time that you can use to be refined, to grow, to live into being the person that God has called you to be. Right here. Right now.