One shoe off

November 29, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 3:02 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Here I am! Officially a woman of leisure! All that remains is to file my claim and buckle down to the task fo determining what comes next. I’ve all but decided that Chicago is my next destination … back to CTS to finish my M.Div. I’ve been a bit Jonah-like. Time to go back and face the music. I know, that makes it sound like my MDiv studies were a bad thing. To the contrary, at my most focused, I absolutely adored being at CTS and all the reading and talking and writing and soul-searching that entailed. And I’m anxious to get back to it, and get it all finished, and get on to the next thing. I know this is all kind of jumbled and incoherent and not very exciting and stuff. I have a hard time talking about seminary, because talking about seminary means talking about that whole “vocation” thing. And the word “vocation” makes me uncomfortable. Have I mentioned this before? It may not be totally clear, since I used to be in the employment business, what I mean by “vocation,” so I’ll try to clarify. I’m not just talking “job” or “career.” It is, instead, true to its Latin roots, a reference to a “call.”¬† The more Bible-inclined among you will understand that without further explanation, probably. Those not so inclined, it’s sort of like this — your vocation is that which you feel ‘called’ to do, that work towards which you are constantly pulled. Via Mind on Fire, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary’s first definition of “vocation”

The action on the part of God of calling a person to exercise some special function, especially of a spiritual nature, or to fill a certain position; divine influence or guidance towards a definite (esp. religious) career; the fact of being so called or directed towards a special work in life; natural tendency to, or fitness for, such work.

Why does “vocation” present such an issue? Here’s why: most everythign that happened in my life from the time I was an infant up through college was framed in terms of “call.” When I was about 3, my parents told me that God had “called” them to leave the States and move us all to South America. Stories about my grandfather revolved mostly around his various “calls” to pack up his family and transport them across the country — multiple times — to pastor churches in Illinois, in Alaska, in Colorado, in California … Throughout high school and college (both at religious schools), I was enjoined to listen to God’s call about everything … what I did with my life, where I went to school, who I dated. It seemed to me that no one could speak of any kind of decision EXCEPT in terms of “call,” whether it was God who was telling them to do something, or just their own common sense or own desire. This is why “vocation” is troubling. Am I really following a “voice,” or do I simply have no other way of talking about the direction my life’s journey takes? As a result, I’ve kind of rebelled against “vocation” talk, not wanting to cheapen it, and not wanting to attribute to the Divine decisions that were just me deciding to do something. Plus it seemed (and seems, still) that I can see through so many people’s “vocations,” and see that the reason they’re doing something isn’t because of some “vocare” but because they’re trying to make up for something, or they’re trying to flee from something (or from themselves), or they’re trying to “sanctify” a decision that they know is either purely selfish or a really, really bad decision (most — not all! — “God told me to marry her/him” decisions I’ve seen fall under this category). Because people with real-life divine calls to do something don’t make a big speech about how God told them to do this. They just do it and get on with it. They don’t care if you know why they’re doing it. They’re not answering to you, anyway. Which is SO not where I was going with this post, but I can’t help but think that’ll preach …


1 Comment »

  1. I don’ think i properly announced it in my blog, but i am OH SO EXCITED you are moving back to chicago. that is the best ever. as far as calls go, I was quite certain i was “called” to join my volunteer program, but then upon being trained, realized that no call was coming as to what i was supposed to actually be doing. I was getting a lot of dial tone, and think that was the point my faith started slipping…
    also, thanks so much for the xmas invite! though it sounds like fun, i think i’ll pass, sounds like there will be much entertainment w/o me!

    Comment by caitlin — December 3, 2008 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

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