V is for Vocation (Some thoughts on Calling)

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I’m thrilled to have my first piece over at The Mudroom today. This month they are exploring the themes of vocation and calling. I thought I had something to say on that topic, but a funny thing happened on the way to writing it… I got stuck at the dishwasher. Take a look:

If V is for Vocation, then F is for Fineprint. Let me get the disclaimers out of the way: I hold two graduate degrees, and earn exactly zero dollars a month. I am a full-time Mom: a packer of dishwashers and kisser of boo-boos and driver of carpools; roles I never imagined myself in and do not consider myself particularly gifted at or fulfilled by. So what on earth was I thinking when I volunteered to write about calling and vocation?

I had noble intentions of summoning my years in College Ministry: time spent with students talking about how their majors—from entomology to economics—reflected some part of God’s good world, and how their joyful service in those made a difference. Part discipleship, part career counseling—these were conversations I excelled in: hour-long vocational pep talks over countless cardboard cups of coffee in the Student Union.

My plan was to do a little reading: brush up on Beuchner’s definition of how we find our vocation where our deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet, spend some time mulling over brilliant Venn diagrams depicting the intersections between what the world will pay for, what we love, what we do well and what is needed . . .  and after all this, I would write a charming, peppy, insightful piece calling us all to a deeper self-awareness, and Christlike purpose.

This was the plan, and one I was ready to execute but for this one blindsiding problem: the glaring vocational question marks raised by my own life…. (read the rest HERE)

Thanks to the team at the Mudroom for the invitation and the prompt: you got me thinking!

Moses in Red Heels

I am loving the ‘Words that Changed my World‘ series so much! Today’s guest is Aleah Marsden: a gem of a writer who I count as a true friend. This is a story I’ve been waiting to share with you!

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I do not recall the exact words of the conversation, just the echoes of her question remains. Something to the effect of: why load your future family down with the debt of an expensive degree you don’t really need to do what you’re supposed to do—be a stay at home mom?

Apparently my teenage self was too preoccupied to take in the weight of that moment. Too distracted by the twinkling engagement ring on my left hand, hinting at a new and shiny future, to notice the heavy stone that had just been dropped into the pool of my soul.

I have looked back on this moment often, almost unable to recognize the girl who smiled and nodded away her hopeful ambitions with almost no second thought. I was told the path of following Christ was that of sacrifice. Even if the sacrifice was my very self I would willingly give it. So, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, I laid down my plans for the “big picture.”

It would be four kids and the better part of ten years before I would begin to realize the cost of my unquestioning commitment to the idealism dropped into to my open hands. Countless tears shed in frustration and bearing the guilt of always feeling like a square peg with a round purpose. Always praying for contentment but unable to shake the feeling I was swimming against a great current; unable to escape the pull of the vortex of the dream for my life I still felt swirling inside.

Then came the words I will never forget.

I had spent years praying God would send me a Moses; someone to help lead me out of the Egypt of my own design. My Moses stepped into the scene wearing sassy red heels. She was the mother of a college student I had been mentoring. Jenn is many things I am not: tall, outspoken, truthful, and direct. She would be intimidating were it not for her boisterous easy laugh, quick wit, and giant smile.

We were sitting on my kid-stained couch on a sunny Friday morning and I had just poured out the angst that had been pooling inside for so long. She looked into my eyes blurry with unshed tears and said, “Have you ever considered writing?” One small new question that crushed the stronghold the former question had held for so many years.

In that moment, in the sunshine of spring, watered by my own tears and nourished by my mentor’s wisdom, the seed of my dreams buried for so long beneath dry soil—sprouted. And from what I thought was death new life flourishes.

profile picAleah Marsden is a stay at home mom of four who wakes up at 5am to study the Bible and write because she discovered physical exhaustion is more manageable than emotional exhaustion (i.e. consumes copious amounts of coffee). She blogs about life, faith, and studying the Bible at DepthOfTheRiches.com. Member of Redbud Writers Guild. Connect with her on Twitter: @marsdenmom