Often when we speak of “being called,” the phrase is followed by another infinitive: being called to become a doctor, being called to work for justice, being called to go on a mission experience. While these active calls are important as we discover the persons God has created us to be, the focus of these phrases on what we do can give us an unbalanced view of vocation. Vocation has so much more meaning than the activity, line of work, or state of life in which we find ourselves. It encompasses our entire being, touches us as humans, and reflects itself not only in our big life choices, but also in how we approach the people we meet, the work we do, and our relationship with God.
I’ve come to appreciate thinking of myself as a human being, called by God. When surrounded that way, the phrase “being called” takes on a new dimension. It first acknowledges the person as a being, a human defined by her humanity rather than her activity. This formulation also reminds us who is doing the calling. While I could rightly follow up the phrase by indicating some sort of activity I feel God is calling me to, leaving ‘called’ open-ended allows me to see how God works in my life and draws me to discover in unconventional places my vocation as a human person, Christian, and unique individual.
Having a mentality where I give value to who I am and how I live has helped me overcome my fear of adults’ favorite question for young people: “What do you want to do in the future?” This may be a straightforward question for some college students and young people in their mid-twenties, but many of us (myself included) are still figuring it out. This desire to find our place takes on even more significance when put in the scope of vocation. Trying to discern where God is calling me in terms of future profession or state of life turns into a pressure-filled endeavor. Why can’t I seem to hear what God is saying to me?
Confidence in the fact that we are persons created, loved, and called by God to be ourselves moves us to show God’s love to the people around us, and pushes us to be present to ourselves and our world rather than trying to control our future paths. We are called to live out this vocation in the ordinary parts of daily life, not only in our activities, but also in our approach and mentality towards our work, relationships, and interiority. I find am more able to recognize and be thankful for the presence of God in my life when I take care to reflect on my intentions and authenticity. Looking at the future can be a daunting experience for young people today, and often we feel the need to fabricate images of ourselves in which we have life figured out. Growing into our calling through our everyday attitudes, interactions, and reflection may take more patience and discernment, but it ends up being much more genuine, and much more of an adventure.