Doing What God Has Called Me To Do
What Do You Do?
I've traveled lackadaisically down many career paths in my short time here on earth, but I never could seem to find that "divine God-called purpose" in my life, that everyone from my parents to my Sunday school teacher said I should have. Of course when I was younger, I didn't figure being a cashier at McDonalds (my very first job) was my "calling in life", as back then, the loftiest goal I had in life was to get paid on Friday so I could spend all day shopping at the mall with my friends on Saturday!
Likewise with many of the other minimum wage jobs that followed, including waitressing, secretarial work and working in retail sales. And while each job uncovered hidden skills and talents I had yet to discover, I never felt a "burning passion" for any of them, nor did I feel like they were a "calling" from God. They were simply a "means to an end", and in my young, un complicated and simplistic world, who you were was plainly printed on the mailbox, not defined by what you did, and that was enough.
As a matter of fact, growing up I never remember wanting to BE ANYTHING - like a doctor, nurse or fireman. The closest I came was when I "played school" with my little brother after a full day at REAL school. Needless to say, he was not overly eager to be my student in the hot, sticky, dirt floor garage that served as our "classroom". He was an unruly, inattentive pupil who refused to do his "homework", which led me to realize early on that I definitely didn't want to pursue a career as a teacher!
But, still the same, like most little kids with big imaginations, I had dreams - from dancing like a graceful ballerina in the Nutcracker Suite, to strutting down the catwalk in Milan, wearing the latest designer fashion. My mother tried to help me discover my creative side by enrolling me in ballet and tap classes as a child, however, my dance instructor was harsh and demanding, and I spent more time on my knees praying that God would make him fall down and break a leg, than I did trying to learn how to stand on my toes. And as far as tap dancing went, I had about as much coordination and rhythm as an elephant doing the cha cha. I think the instructor finally broke the heartbreaking news to my mother that I had about as much chance of becoming an accomplished dancer as I did of walking on the moon. Needless to say, my dance career was a brief one!
And what chubby (or skinny!)freckle-faced little girl didn't watch the Miss America pageant and dream of being the beautiful girl in the fluffy, marshmallow white gown, gliding effortlessly down the runway, trying to steady a diamond studded crown with one hand, and an over-sized bouquet of red roses with the other, while hearing Burt Parks sing, "There she is, Miss America".. in the background?! How many nights I remember replaying that fairy tale moment when I was crowned the beauty queen, in my mind, until I drifted peacefully and blissfully off to a fantasy slumber land where I could BE anyone I wanted!
Even in high school, while all my ambitious friends and scholarly school mates were eagerly submitting college applications or making plans to hike across Europe and live off organic vegetables in Kathmandu (Nepal, not Florida!), I just wanted to get OUT of school, marry a rich, good looking man, move to a lazy little beach town, and sell seashells by the seashore. Okay, so it wasnt exactly the most ambitious life plan, but it got all A's for being the most carefree one! As far as I was concerned, further education was highly overrated!
Instead, all I did was bunny hop from one job to the next, trying to find something that would sustain my not-so-glamorous, carefree lifestyle at the time, and at the very least, afford me the opportunity to move out of my parents house and into my own place. And whenever a well-meaning relative or school counselor asked me what I wanted "to do" with my life, I'd respond with some profound and surprisingly mature response like, "I'm not yet sure - I'm going to take some time to hone my natural inborn talents and skills and how to best use them to develop a life long plan for success." Pretty impressive, huh? Too bad it took me 30 years to finally do that!
After high school, still not sure of what I wanted to do (and since my parents really couldn't afford to send me to college), I went to work in an office and at the urging of my parents, decided to take some business classes at the local community college. I really didn't want to go back to school, but at the time, it was "the next best thing" to college, and at least it made me look "ambitious".
However, I soon lost what little bit of interest I had in blindly pursuing a mystery career, and focused instead on pursing "a good time". Looking back now, I realize I was so insecure in myself as a person, and in my lack of ability to BECOME someone, that I avoided anything (like more education) that I could possibly fail at. In short, I cheated myself out of the opportunity to "hone my natural inborn talents", and really discover what I was good at! Ironically, God created me with all the natural talent I would ever need and all I had to do was trust Him to show me what it was, and how to use it make my life fuller and more complete, instead of romping around the "career playground" jumping from the teeter-totter to the merry-go-round.
A few years later, after taking a menial-paying job as a secretary in an office, I met my first husband and immediately got married. There again, I think I saw marriage as a way to finally BE somebody - a wife, and hopefully a mother, and that would have been okay, except that the marriage failed, (as well as our plans to procreate), and left me even more insecure and with still no formal edcuation to fall back on. ( I actually HAD enrolled in a course in Fashion Merchandising at the community college after I got married, but after we split, I moved away and never went back and finished the course.)
Failing at a job is one thing, but when you fail at a marriage AND the ability to reproduce, it really does a number on your self esteem. So I moved back home, regrouped and went BACK to work at the same little safe office job I had before I got married. It must have been a "psychological comfort zone" for me, because I stayed there for several more years before I met husband #2, and married again. (And fortunately, this marriage has lasted much longer than most of my career choices!) Unfortunately, I never was able to have children, and dealing with permanent fertility issues has left yet another indelible scar on my already battered and bruised psyche, not to mention the loss of another respectable defining label - that of "mother".
Over the next few years, I crawled wearily out of my comfort zone and wandered aimlessly back into my hopeless search for who (or WHAT) I was meant to be. I "dabbled" in all kinds of jobs and held many titles (if nothing more than on a business card), including those of medical receptionist, retail manager and advertising sales rep. And although I was quite successful in most every position I held, I still didn't feel that deep inner PASSION for any of them, and was always looking around the corner for the next big opportunity to "be someTHING or someONE".
And of course, now that I was an adult and had financial obligations, it wasn't enough to just have a job that I liked, it had to be a job that PAID WELL, so I could pay the bills every month. And although I LOVED to shop, lets face it, working as a retail clerk at J.C. Penney didn't exactly rank up there on Forbes "top ten" list of prominent, high paying jobs! Thats when I realized the older you get, you sacrifice PASSION for PAYCHECK.
Fast forward a few more years, and like alot of brave and spirited soldiers who fought in the front lines of the treacherous "entrepreneurial battleground" before me, I decided to start my own business - a DVD advertising business - an idea way before its time. In short, I wrote, filmed and copied short infomercials for local businesses to use in their marketing plans. It was a relatively unheard-of idea at the time, especially in the sleepy little town where I lived, where corporate budgets were small and interested prospects even smaller. I was forced to travel out of town to solicit business from bigger companies with bigger budgets, but soon gave up when I realized I'd have to travel further and further, and maybe even relocate to a larger city, in order to attract the opulent clientele that was my target market, which was not an option (nor a desire) for me at the time.
Then, I had an epiphany (okay, so it was more like a passing whimsy) to open up a ladies fitness gym - something like a Curves, only I designed my own name, logo and, in my own opinion , offered much better quality equipment and cheaper membership rates. It seemed like a good idea at the time (don't they all?), but there was a major flaw in my business plan - my ONLY goal was to make MONEY. Now while I don't believe there's anything wrong with free enterprise, even the Bible warns us against doing something just to make money:
"For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows." -1 Timothy 6:10 NLT
But, the local Curves in my hometown was closing down, and rather than tie myself up with a franchise that limited my ability to offer my clients more products and services, I opted to design my own "Curves look-alike" gym. I knew how lucrative the fitness and weight loss industry was, and I wanted a part of that "fat" proverbial pie. Not that I wasn't health conscious myself (and still am), but profit was more of a motivator than passion - in fact it WAS the passion, and that's where I made my mistake! However, it was a huge success for the first year - my membership was growing and everyone loved the uniqueness of the whole concept. It would seem I had God's approval and everything was going well until....
After only 2 short years, like the rest of the country, I found myself in the spasmodic throes of a quickly faltering economy. Feeling it was a luxury more than a necessity, members started dropping out, new memberships came to a screeching halt, and I quickly relocated to a smaller building to try and reduce my overhead, hoping I could "wait-out" the impending doom that was sure to come. I felt like the sand was quickly giving way under my feet and before long, I knew I wasn't going to make it. Shamefully and with much regret, I closed my business, sold my equipment, tucked my tail between my legs, and crawled disgracefully back to my meager existence. I had nothing to show for my troubles but a few useless business cards and an empty bank account. Once again, I had failed to BECOME something, and it was painfully clear that was NOT my God-chosen path. Truly I was "pierced with many sorrows".
And let me just interject this little observation from that whole harrowing experience: while everyone may think being an entrepreneur and owning your own business is exciting and glamorous, trust me, its no fun sinking your time, energy AND your savings into a business and then realizing that not only is it not going to work, but it really wasn't what you wanted to do to start with! Yet another good reason to make sure you have a PASSION for what you do - and not just to get rich!
After that, I found myself going to school to become a real estate agent - not exactly my life's dream, but a modest, respectable and highly lucrative profession (well at least at the time). And much to my happy surprise, I discovered that I really enjoyed the real estate business, and for once I had a reputable title behind my name - Real Estate Agent. I had finally made it - I was SOMEBODY, at least according to my designation. But the question still nagged at me - was it who GOD wanted me to be?
I felt confident that it was, as I truly enjoyed working with my clients and loved the whole "House Hunter" nature of the industry. I remember on the way to my first showing appointment, thanking God for finally showing me what I was meant to do with my life, and for helping me get that far. I promised Him we would be "partners" and that I'd never again make a decision without discussing it with Him first! (Much unlike opening the gym, which I went into blindly and spiritually unguided!) For the first time in my life I thought I had found my "divine calling", and I was sure that's what I'd be doing "the rest of my life". WRONG - again!
As everyone knows, the real estate industry crumbled faster than the sinking of the Titanic Less than 2 years after I got my license, and as steadfastly as I tried to hold on to my "title", I was consequently forced to seek other means of making a living, hastily choosing to get my insurance license and becoming an insurance agent instead. (However, I still retain my real estate license in hopes of seeing a revival in the real estate market in the coming years!) . But the most disappointing factor in the whole dismal debacle, was the feeling that what I thought was my "calling" in life, was nothing more than another bad career choice, leaving me with the still unanswered question - WHAT DOES GOD WANT ME TO DO WITH MY LIFE??
Now, here I sit today, making a respectable, very blessed living as an insurance agent, and while I enjoy it more than I ever thought I would, I still have that unfulfilled yearning to "be" or do something more.
Now, of course at this point, I'm sure a couple of logical questions have come to your mind:
1. Have I prayed and asked God to show me what He wants me to do with my life?
2. Is there is a talent or skill I have that I'm not using that I could do for a living?
The answer to both these questions is a resounding "YES!"
I have prayed fervently about this, and most recently, God has reminded me of a talent I've always had, but never fully developed. And yes, its most definitely something I have a heart felt passion for, as well as something that I have an inherent talent for! So, what IS it, you ask?
Well, I'm not quite ready to tell you that, just yet. I'm still delving into and exploring that part of myself that I overlooked and neglected all those years when I was trying to discover the "chosen one" God wanted me to be. However, I feel serenely confident about the current path I'm on and divinely optimistic that I am finally becoming ALL that God wants me to be, and very soon, I will reveal to the world (or at least to my closest friends and family members) WHO that person really is! Stay tuned!