Vocation. Let's break that word down. It's not just about being called to religious life. A vocation means answering God's invitation, fulfilling the role that God is calling you to play in this world, no matter what this role entails. The interesting thing is, however, that your vocation isn't about you.
This past week, I attended Notre Dame Vision, a retreat-type experience on the University of Notre Dame's campus during which we focused on a variety of topics. One overlying theme of the week was vocation. This is where I first heard that our vocations are not about us. Yes, answering the call is a conversation, a conversation between YOU and GOD. But in the end, it's not about what you want. It's about what God wants.
Does this mean that God is asking us to give ourselves, and consequently our happiness, over to Him? Does this mean that He doesn't consider what makes us happy in life? NO!!
Our vocation is about what God wants....and what God wants is for us to be happy. When God calls us each (uniquely), it may at first seem like we're being led away from happiness, away from what we want. But in actuality, God is leading us to what He KNOWS will truly make us happy: doing His will. By dragging our feet and running the opposite way, we convince ourselves that His way is not our way, that His way will lead us away from true happiness.
When God calls us to follow Him, He cares about our needs, but He also cares about the needs of the world. I'd like you to share with you all a quote I stumbled upon on a friend's tshirt this past week. It has helped me rethink my own approach to discovering God's call for me:
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes YOU come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (Howard Thurman)
Notice how Thurman isn't saying, "Ask yourself what you want in life and go do that." And he is not saying, "Ask yourself what others want you do to in life and go do that." No, he specifically throws "come alive" into the mix. Because doing what you want or doing what others want you do is rarely the same as doing what makes you come alive. "Coming alive" is much deeper than the fleeting happiness that pursuing selfish desires brings. Coming alive requires passion, dedication, and commitment---commitment to more than one's own desires.
God is calling us to serve others and to serve Him. How can we do that? By finding passion in our work. This is how we can serve the world. We can devote whatever it is we do to God, whether that means proclaiming His Word or merely living as a Christian. We can come alive with Christ's love and SHARE IT, no matter how we do so. This is what the world needs.
Regardless of your vocation, you can share God's love. Whether you are a priest/nun/sister/brother, teacher, student, doctor, lawyer, waiter, garbageman, or [insert your profession here].....GOD CAN BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF YOUR WORK. You can allow His light to shine through you to all you encounter, regardless of what it is you are called to do.
This is what will satisfy you. This is what will bring you happiness, not following your own selfish pursuits.
So, readers, if you have not yet discovered it, be attentive to God's call. And even if you feel you have answered the call already, look for ways God is asking you to dedicate yourself to Him even further. It may not come to you in a cloud of smoke or a burning bush. Listen for the whisper, and know, no matter what, that God is calling you to help others through your life. This--this giving of yourself--is what will allow you to bring Christ's joy to others, and to attain this joy in your very own life.