Another Transition I’m Making

faith life calling personal Mar 22, 2022

Photo by Alexas Fotos from Pexels

If you’ve been following me, you know that our family is facing a lot of transitions:

  • Being fully self-employed after working full-time for EnergyCAP
  • Moving to Virginia from Pennsylvania this summer
  • Preparing for our daughter to start college in the Fall

While we’re at it, why not throw more transition on the pile?

Two memories from my childhood stand out as especially significant to who I am. When I think back on moments when I felt fully alive, when I was most myself, these two keep coming to the top. Both are from elementary school.

Editorial Contest

In the first memory, our class is assigned to write an opinion piece for the local newspaper’s editorial contest. We must select a topic and share our point of view. There are no limits on what topic to choose. One could write about improving school lunches or extending recess or making summer longer.

What do I choose to write about? Obviously, what is on the mind of every elementary school student – the topic of abortion! I consider no topic but this, I must write about abortion.

The winning essays are printed in the newspaper, and mine is included.

That is memory number one.

Schoolyard Skirmish

In the second memory, it’s recess and my friend group are playing outside. We come upon a dead bird on the ground. Almost in unison, my friends position themselves in bowing pose and start mock-worshipping the bird.

Immediately something I had heard earlier in childhood comes to mind: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Like the essay topic seemed so clear, what to do next also seems so clear. I kick the bird away from the worshippers…and start running.

The group runs after me, I look back and see the leader of the group closing in quickly. I get to the top of the hill, turn around, and he takes a swipe at me. It’s my first schoolyard fight.

That is memory number two.

Listening to Your Stories

Why do these memories bubble to the top for me? What is it about them that feels authentic to who I am, what I'm about?

To answer these questions, I must suspend judgment and remember I was a kid in development. Sure, there are parts to the stories I would not re-live and I’m not looking to recreate them exactly as they happened.

But I am seeking to learn from them.

Parker Palmer writes:

"Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live—but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life."

Deborah Koehn Loyd writes:

"Although we are not all writers, we are the keepers of our own stories."

So, we must listen to our stories and pay attention to what they are telling us about ourselves. And we must treat our stories as a trust and not let them be something that merely happened to us but steward them as gifts that inform what is happening with us.

I think a reason my two memories keep springing up for me is that they both reveal myself to me in common ways:

  • I felt a need to speak my truth
  • Others didn’t like it, but I did it anyway
  • I liked being attached to a clear point of view

Now here’s where my latest transition comes into play: I want to speak my truth; I realize others may not like it; I want to offer a clear point of view.

Forces at Work

There are internal and external forces fighting against this:

  • As a Type 3 on the Enneagram, I can easily morph into OTHERS’ images and expectations of me instead of what’s truly ME
  • As a person with high Empathy on CliftonStrengths, I can take on OTHERS’ feelings and perspectives instead of staying true to my OWN
  • As a person with high Artistic interest on PathwayU, I can create and craft things because it’s FUN instead of asking if it ALIGNS
  • As a solopreneur trying to make my business sustainable, I can attempt to serve EVERYONE instead of narrowing down to my NICHE audience
  • As someone who has worked in the academic and corporate space, I can do what I’ve ALWAYS DONE and not adapt to a NEW SEASON

But this is a new season, and I don’t want to fall prey to these forces. In some ways, I want to return to the primal instincts of my youth when I felt fully alive and most like me.

So, here’s what this means:

Narrow Down the Niche

You may know that I’m a Christian and from time-to-time have created resources from a Christian worldview. I’d like to do more of this. I realize that taking on a more Christianly approach won’t interest everyone, and that’s okay. If you move on, no hard feelings. I can’t serve everyone.

There are plenty of other people who create wonderful resources around CliftonStrengths, Enneagram, coaching, etc. that are not Christianly in approach. Let them do that, I cheer them on. But I’d like to niche down into a more Christianly perspective.

Christian Life Calling

When I first started working around the topic of life calling, I defined life calling as, “Supernatural purpose that brings good into the world, creates personal meaning and joy, and utilizes innate and grown strengths.”

This definition made room for everyone from all the historical views:

  • Biblical view: purpose comes from God
  • Neoclassical view: purpose comes from society or family legacy
  • Modern view: purpose comes from personal need for fulfillment

And I said, “Do what works for you.”

But as I dig deeper into life calling, I want to approach it from the biblical view, where calling comes from God to advance his plans; where we are not the center of our calling; where we are not the hero of our story; where faithfulness rather than happiness is the chief end goal.

Other perspectives have value, but this is the field I want to cultivate.

Christian Life Calling Institute

What this means is that we are renaming our work to the “Christian Life Calling Institute,” where we’ll help Christians to find and pursue their life calling. And we’ll do it from a Christian perspective. Again, no hard feelings if this isn’t for you. It won’t be for everyone.

There are plenty of good programs out there that focus on life calling from different views. But if you are interested in applying the gospel to your calling OR aligning your identity in Christ with the work you’re called to do OR resisting the myths of life calling and the attitudes of the age that do not align with a Christian worldview, then come along.

Wherever you land, thank you for your support and I wish you abundant grace and blessings!

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