This Sunday begins what the American bishops call “Vocation Awareness Week”. Throughout these days we will pray at mass and teach in class rooms the vision our faith presents to us about “vocation”.
Vocation? What is that? It’s your purpose; it’s the task God gives to your life to make this a better world. It’s something the world will never experience without YOU! A fellow named Frederick Buechner put it this way: a vocation is “the place God calls you to, where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger . . . meet.”
In other words your vocation is focused on the hunger of the world – not yourself – but for this world that God so loves. “seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things (happiness) will be given unto you.” (Mt. 6;33) So what is your “deep gladness”?
Is it children and family? Then have some! Love them, teach them, show them the way.
Is it teaching? Then learn all you need to know about it. Then give it joyfully to those who don’t know what you know. Open their world.
Is it helping others? Comforting? Healing? Playing? Protecting? Laughing? Performing? Listening? (When you do these things you feel joy and meaning, right?) So now bring them to those who stumble, who weep, who are sick, who want to belong, who are in danger, who are sad, who need inspiration, who need someone to hear them.
Notice . . . your vocation makes this a better world and this looking toward others becomes your happiness. God wants this for you and equips you with your particular gifts to advance God’s Kingdom.
So how do I find my deep happiness? First of all — believe it’s out there with your name on it. It really is. You are in this world for a reason. Now Jesus says, search for it, hunger for it. “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Mt. 7:7
One of the depressing things for me when I got out of college was the feeling that it made absolutely no difference what I did with my life. No one was watching, no one cared . . . just do SOMETHING! Life is moving on!
Of course we all need to support ourselves in this world, so “a job” is essential. But what is the purpose of a job? Isn’t it to give us the freedom to do what brings us happiness?
Initially for me, I thought it was teaching and someday marriage. Later on I learned God had something else in mind for me. I discovered the personal love of Christ for me. Over time it became clear that my “deepest happiness” was helping people come to discover His love in their lives too. So priesthood eventually was shown to be my path for life.
If you are still looking for your path . . . don’t worry. God will show it to you. There is no time limit to discovering our vocation. But we must ask and seek His promptings.
A few tips on seeking one’s vocation:
- Listen to what trusted friends and family tell you about yourself and your gifts. Ask them what they think you bring to the party.
- Be aware of what moves you profoundly. What brings tears of joy? What did someone (a teacher, parent, friend) do for you that touched you deeply? Might God be using this to teach you to give back in a similar way?
- All vocations have to do with loving . . . God and others.
- Don’t think God has some dreadful burden He wants you to carry for your vocation. Life has it’s crosses, some very heavy; but underneath the trials there is Joy.
- Pray. Ask God – every day – to show you your happiness. Watch for moments of joy. What path in life might consistently bring you to this?
- Don’t be overly moved (highs or lows) by life’s events. They pass and everyday life continues. But these moments leave their message to us.
- Peace. Jesus continuously tells us to be at peace. This calm, steady and happy state of being tell us we’re heading in the right direction.
Trust God and Peace be with you.