In the last months between May and August I feel like I’ve been around the world several times without ever leaving my geographical area. I’m sure most people feel that way at some time or another, and these last few months have been my turn. It’s not been all bad by any means, but it has required terrific amounts of stretching and growing, praying and trusting, and the courage to do the next right thing when I really had no idea how things were going to turn out.
A friend recently said, “I am so fascinated to see what goes on in your life—I’m very glad it’s not my life, but I’m learning so much from watching you, from hearing the stories, and seeing the God-things happen. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.”
I said, “You’re welcome,” but it gave me pause (again), thinking about why and how we all experience life so differently even though we live side by side, or at least in fairly close proximity. Some of us seem to be magnets for challenging circumstances that apparently come either to help us grow or to benefit someone in need, but that sometimes make no sense at all.
I believe that some of this has to do with calling. This morning I watched a video that wrapped up an 8-lesson book study. The conclusion was that your life calling is usually more than one thing—it’s more about having a portfolio life, different experiences, a variety of strengths—different ways of using your abilities. Like someone who checked in during the class said, “My calling is to be an encourager and a truth-teller.” Or, based on my recent on ongoing experience it could be, “I’m willing to put myself on the line to help people through difficult situations.” Same thing, different terms.
Much of my encouraging and truth-telling happens around my dining room table, or while working in the church kitchen, or in helping my elderly friends and clients and their adult children. Gentle work on the whole. But over these last few months that life calling to encouraging and truth-telling led me to stand directly between two raging professional co-workers who let the racial tensions of our country spill over into the workplace. It was loud, ugly, and frightening; I literally stepped between them before further damage could be done. It took weeks of searching prayer and careful, hard, wise work to help them find their way to reconciliation and to encourage them to peace. It’s continuing process of growth and challenge for all of us.
At the same time, I was working through a few large faith-and-patience-producing issues of my own that involved a serious health issue and the decision to move forward in buying a home without any money of my own. Off my feet for over a month I had time to pray and work through these challenges and to tell my thoughts and resultant God-stories to anyone who came to my kitchen to listen. And that part, I believe is just as important as doing the actual hands on work. Telling the story makes people aware of things they may not have experienced or even considered, telling the story offers truth in a very authentic way when people can hear about struggles and doubts and then become part of the process that searches for God and watches for answers. Telling the story leaves markers and signs for others who will need to know and be encouraged.
In the end my life may be fascinating only because I’m willing to tell it.