Calling and Choice: A Reflection

I’m going a bit more philosophical today, inspired by the sermon I just heard at church. I do have some life updates to share at the end, though, so bear with me.

The idea of “calling” is often considered in a religious context, and I do think of it that way, as I am a Christian. But I think there’s more to it. Christians may say that God is calling them to do something, thinking of what to do for their careers, or where to live, or whether to get married or have children or not, and things of that nature. People also use the term “vocation” for this. The point is, because one’s calling comes from God, it has less to do with personal choice and more from a force outside of you. That’s not to say that you can’t figure out your calling from looking within you, because God speaks within us as He shows us who we are in the world, and as we discover that, we discover our callings too. But there doesn’t seem to be much free will in here. One key political idea in the United States is that everyone should be able to choose what they do, without the government standing in the way. But what is choice? And how is it related to calling?

That’s where I’m going outside of the Christian box a little bit. We make choices based on, more often than not, what we WANT to do. We want food, we go to the store. We want to take a nap, we lay down and sleep for awhile. Those are simple choices. I’m thinking more of big choices, though, the ones you might conflate with calling. Like, where you end up with your life, and the career you spend it doing. Of course, this is personal to me, as I’ve just made a big choice to move across the country. You could say I’ve made that choice twice now, since I did it when I decided to attend Luther College. But the reason I made these choices wasn’t clear-cut, like the more simple choices in life are. I made these choices because they felt right, like they were my true callings. When I was 18, I was very much in the process of figuring out who I was (not that I’m not still). I’d spent time at Luther for LSM and loved it. It wasn’t my first choice school when I started senior year, but by March, it was so clear to me that I was meant to be there. Not only did it fit my college priority checklist, but it was the right place intangibly. Yes, I had another reason at that time that encouraged me to go there… but soon after I began school, I realized that the choice had been mine all along, which became especially important when that reason disappeared. (Which related to another calling-choice. But I won’t get into that right now.)

My second move was an even bigger calling-choice. I interviewed for the job at Ashdown not knowing a lot, other than that I needed a job for after Farmers. Plus, I knew, deep within myself, that I wanted to move back to the Midwest, even after just a few months in Seattle. I fostered a love for this region during my teens and was already looking out for opportunities here. Then Ashdown came to me. I flew out for the interview back in November and, like at Luther, I felt this intangible need to be here. I still do. I believe I’m living out my true self, my calling, the calling that led me to make these choices. Too frequently do people dismiss these intangible feelings of a sense of vocation, or the sense is just plain unclear. But it becomes clearer over time, or in hindsight. Our callings are who we are, whether you think God is part of that or not. I believe ignoring that is self-destructive. Fortunately in our formative years, we have opportunities to figure out what our callings are, or are not, like short-term internships and classes. Just know that it’s not 100% clear, but it takes thought and intuition. And then you can make the big choices and feel right about them.

The sermon I referenced was the one my pastor gave this morning, and she talked about a couple moments in her life when she felt God was speaking to her about what kind of person she should be. I can think of moments like that for myself, too, even if I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. My concluding thought is, your intuition doesn’t always match up with what makes “logical” sense… but then again, is it logical to brush off your intuition? Think about why you want to do something, what’s at the core of that emotion. Nurture the core of yourself. Then all of the logic will fall into place. Plus, it will help you stay positive. 🙂

I’ve had a pretty solid few weeks here. I’m about to put out another issue of Bead Me and have finished ahead of schedule! Yay! Things just keep moving forward at work. I’m about to head out to go to the gym for a bit, then go to orchestra rehearsal. We have our concert a week from today, titled “Beyond Imagination.” If you’re in the Rochester area, I highly recommend coming to hear it! And of course I’m going on with church music.

I went to a bridal shower yesterday for my good friend from Luther, Sara. She lives in northern Iowa now and is getting married in June near Decorah. So it means getting to spend more time with my friends at our alma mater. 🙂 The shower was really nice too! The drive took a couple hours, and I got hit in a rain squall on the way back – one of those classic Midwest storms. The weather has been amazing overall recently, though. I’m hoping it’ll be good on Tuesday night, when I head down to Decorah again to hear the Luther Collegiate Chorale sing their tour homecoming concert! I can’t wait!

Lastly, my most important bit: I’m moving again in less than two weeks. But it’s only a five-minute jaunt over to my new one-bedroom apartment. My ZIP code isn’t even changing. It does mean much more freedom in what I can do with my space, which I’m of course happy about. My address will change officially on May 1. Please let me know if you would like to have it. 🙂 And, I’m going back to Seattle for the first time at the end of May, for Memorial Day weekend. I’ve already got some fun stuff planned, including (but not limited to) eating an inordinate amount of sushi.

Well, I’ve still got a busy evening ahead, so I’ll sign off here. Please let me know if you have any comments on my musings about vocation – I’d love to keep discussing it. There’s so much to chew on. But it’s still the weekend, so don’t fry your brain just yet if you don’t want to.

Peace,

Brita

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