“The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Frederick Buechner
For over a decade now, I’ve wrestled with the questions, “What is my purpose? What was I put on earth to do? What is my calling? My vocation? Are my purpose and calling related to a job? What if I lose that job or never get it? Will I have lost my calling/failed in my purpose?”
Even the issue of one’s “passion” was thorny for me. I grew to hate the word because I didn’t know what I was passionate about! I mean I loved many things: reading, learning, writing, teaching, etc., but I seemed to love them all to the same degree. Nothing stood out for me the way championing non-violence stood out for Gandhi or campaigning for social justice and civil rights did for Martin Luther King.
I thought a passion would be all-consuming, a raging lust for some worthwhile cause. But nothing so noble overtook my imagination. Consequently, my confidence drooped, slumped over, and expired. How can one not even know what one was passionate about, I kicked myself. How can one not know what one wants???
Then one night, as I lay in bed pondering the same old questions, begging God to show me what the dickens my purpose was, I got into a right howler of an argument with Him.
Can’t you see that I am willing to do whatever it is You put me on earth to do…if only I knew what it was??? Why do I have to read Your mind? Why don’t You just tell me, for heaven’s sake? Why must you make it so hard????
Then a thought trickled into my angry brain…like a drop of perspiration slowly snaking its way down my chest. And that thought said, “I may not know what my grand purpose is or how I can change the world on a massive scale. But every day, when the opportunity presents itself and my eyes are open to See, I CAN make a positive difference.” I can encourage my child instead of railing at her. I can make my husband a delicious cup of coffee even when I feel like throttling him for being too busy for me. I can write an email that can give a despairing friend a boost. I can contribute to a micro-enterprise fund so that a woman in the Third World can start up a small enterprise and support her family. I can offer to have a child over so that her mom, a single parent, can have some precious time to herself. I can offer to read to the blind.
In other words, I can craft a string of pearls from individual good deeds – instead of despising the small pearls I encounter while striving to discover the pearl of great price! And in so doing, I make choices that define me.
The world’s deep hunger might wear a global face, but it might also be the face of my neighbor. When I see what is needed, and I choose gladly to give what is in my hand – be it my time, my talent, or my treasure – I choose to believe I am fulfilling my purpose. I am stepping up to the plate…taking responsibility for what is before me, instead of waiting for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give big! In a sense, I am giving big…just in little ways.