My calling didn’t show up the way I expected it to. There was no flash of lightning or burst of insight, and yet its arrival was unmistakable. This calling was crystal clear. In fact, it came yesterday afternoon via a buzzing cell phone with my mother on the other end of the line and my four year old daughter in the background, screaming, “I. Need. Mommy. To. Come. Home. Right. Now!”
And home I went.
Lest you think I’m a complete pushover, let me assure you that this was no ordinary call. It came just after my littlest sweetheart had closed her fingertip in the hinge of a door. Hard. There was wailing and sobbing by the injured party. There was whispered use of the letters “s-t-i-t-c-h-e-s” by her very worried grandmother. By that point, the distraught duo had my undivided attention.
Appointments were cancelled and I jumped in my car. No matter how important my plans for the afternoon had been, they no longer took priority. You just don’t say no to a calling. And this one was mine…at least for yesterday.
I used to think that a calling was something you discovered once and spent the rest of your life fulfilling. But now I wonder if perhaps callings come more frequently and have shorter durations. I wonder if they’re more like assignments telling us where we need to be or what we need to do in that moment.
These little callings don’t always come with fanfare (or a screaming injured child to underscore the point). Sometimes they come as nudges, or as passing thoughts. They bubble up from somewhere inside of us, inviting us to act. They’re the ones that say:
Should we go visit _____?
What this town needs is a _____.
Why does that woman across the _____ look so worried?
If only someone would fix _____.
Have I called _____ lately?
Why don’t we have a ______ around here?
I should share this article with ____ .
I feel like I’m supposed to ______.
They aren’t accidents, these little thoughts that take hold and won’t let go. They are the signs we’re always asking for.
Except that we think the signs will be BIG and OBVIOUS and the calling will be so GRAND. We think we should be writing a symphony or discovering a cure for cancer or building the next Google. We’re so busy looking for the BIG calling toward our purpose or our life’s work that we often miss these little ones. We dismiss them as unimportant, but they’re so far from it.
What we think of as small and insignificant can hold great power. Moments of connection. Being present. Showing up.
When we accept these assignments, we do our part to fulfill a purpose far greater than our own.
So yesterday I spent the afternoon snuggling that little bundle of a girl in the ER, waiting for x-rays to be reviewed, and sedatives to kick in, and anesthesia to do its magic, and doctors to do the work they’ve been trained to do. To an outsider looking in, I didn’t do much. But I answered the call. I said yes. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, content with the simplicity of my part to play. In the end, my personal collection of these accepted assignments may be my greatest work of all.
If you’re grappling with discovering your calling, restless to find your purpose, impatiently searching for your life’s work, perhaps it’s time to start listening for the little callings and answering those. You don’t need all the answers; you just need one little yes at a time.