I wish I could say that my faith journey was characterized by a willing acceptance of the yoke Jesus says is chrestos (or well-fitting), a deep, powerful Yes! to God’s presence in my life, but the reverse is actually more truthful. Immediately after I deeply understood that God has been speaking to me my entire life I realized I’d almost always ignored the call.
For example, when I was about six, I wanted to be a nun. My family was about as anti-religion as possible; I have no idea where this desire came from, as we certainly weren’t Catholic, but there it was, a childhood call to cloistered life. I ignored it, and all iterations of that call, studying theology in college, going to church, or anything resembling a life in harness with God.
When I was in college I heard very clearly that I should study overseas for a semester, perhaps a year. Finances and fear kept me from obeying, and I still regret it.
Then there was the moment I looked at a long-legged, dark-haired boy in an 8 a.m. American history class and heard, “That’s the man you’re going to marry.” I was dating someone else at the time and had no intention of ever getting married, so this was really inconvenient.
When I graduated from college I heard very clearly that I should be a writer. Instead I started working for an insurance company, writing job descriptions for underwriters and claims processors and systems analysts. The tedium was near-fatal, because that’s not what Spirit intended for me.
Until about three years ago, the join between me and God has been a teamster’s nightmare at best, shrugged off and kicked across the ground at worst. I could look back at all the times I’ve said no when I should have said yes, and the times when I’ve said yes when I should have said no; I could look back at the near-misses (law school, TWICE) and the what-might-have-beens and the should-have-could-have-would haves and lament like a prophet for what I’ve done, or not done, or done with a mediocre level of enthusiasm (lukewarm, worthy only to be vomited out).
Instead, I focus on the fact that I apparently have ears to hear. Sometime in the last three years I’ve taken my fingers out of my ears, stop saying LALALALALALA at the top of my lungs, shouldered the well-fitted yoke, and follow the path in tandem with God. It’s not always been easy, but my energies and passions are much more closely aligned with the world’s deep needs.
If you’re curious what happened to the long-legged, dark-haired boy…I didn’t always ignore the call. We’ll celebrate twenty years of marriage in October. The most honest thing I’ve ever heard, the most important time I could have said yes, I did. Amen!
Love it, Margaret!
I don’t really believe the Universal Divine Whatever thinks in any sort of way we might be able to grasp. I do believe that if you did every thing the Universal Divine Whatever calls you to that the Universal Divine Whatever would get pretty bored and go fishing for more contrary creatures in another galaxy. I think of life as a series of train journeys and stations. People sometimes refer to a sort of meandering path, but I don’t see it that way. You make a decision, you head for it. At some point that decision becomes less satisfactory and you look for a station to change trains. It’s a timing thing. I think the art of life is in changing trains or not changing trains. The really fun thing is you get to decide. The Universal Divine Whatever just works with you to provide the materials to lay the tracks, and build the stations. I think you would have made a fabulous nun, but hubby is probably happy that train left the station.
I love this metaphor, Scott. It’s never too late to change stations!
Your story hits home. I was in my early forties when I finally said yes. At 6 I was determined to be a missionary and then at 9 I wanted to be a nun! The nursing sisters caring for grandma were my only female religious role models – only men were ministers in the early 60’s. The calls kept coming and I eventually understood God really did want me to do something. TBTG