Some of the most basic questions of human life are ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ Until we answer these questions, even partially, our lives tend to be dominated by a deep sense of dissatisfaction. In response to this restlessness or ennui, we have three choices: 1. We can languish in it, feeling listless and directionless, simply going through the motions without meaning or purpose; 2. We can avoid it, distracting ourselves with food and drink, shopping, travel, sex, or a host of other things; or, 3. We can face it head on, and follow that impulse from the deepest part of our being — that part of us that longs for something more and pushes us to do something about it. This last option is what this series is going to focus on. And for the purposes of this series, I’m going to call this impulse ‘vocation,’ or calling.
I think this language of calling is useful because it captures the sense of our deepest self hearing a voice or song it cannot ignore and pursuing it to its source. In this way vocation is like the call of the sirens from Greek legend — only leading us to our deepest sense of truth, meaning, and personhood instead of to our destruction.
As Christians, our Scriptures are clear that each of us has a special something, a gift we have been given, that is ours to be shared and expressed in the community and the world. When we hear that something calling us, follow it, live it, and share it, we are responding to God’s call and simultaneously expressing our ‘best self’ and highest purpose and meaning. But paradoxically, living into our unique vocation is never a seflish act, as it is not for us, but is oriented towards our neighbour and helps us to build up the community of faith and serve the world.
In this series, I explore this topic of vocation at several different levels of identity and also consider the impact of community and systemic and circumstantial barriers on vocation, as well as the process of discernment: