“Fine, God. What do you want me to do?”
The question marked my first flailing, frustrated attempt at discerning my life’s purpose. Spurred by successive failed job interviews, I felt caught between the rocky cliff of now and the edge of not yet. I was miserable at my job as a community journalist. I applied for job after job (in the late 1990s boom) but no offers came. Even worse, I was often the second choice for many of these jobs in non-profit public relations — the path I thought I was going to follow in that moment. But, nothing. Zilch. Nada.
In that angry, miserable wallowing, a new way forward was being born. Not only the call to Christian ministry that I would eventually follow to seminary and ordination in the United Church of Christ — but a new way of making life’s decisions. Some call it discernment. Some call it contemplation. Some call it finding your purpose. Whatever you call it — it’s a way of tuning into how your inner wisdom, the universe, the Divine is luring you to use your gifts in the world.
Fast forward almost 20 years, and I’m still at it. This way of tuning into the universe for guidance. Most recently, I struggled to discover how my passion for mindfulness/yoga/mediation worked with my call to Christian ministry. I wondered how I could bring these life-giving practices to organizations struggling to get healthy and make the change they need to have the greatest impact on the world. (Read more about this part of my journey.)
The discernment struggle doesn’t get any easier, but I have gotten the gear to help me weather those uncertain storms. I’ve spent 20 years and thousands of hours exploring prayer, meditation, and yoga practices, and I’ve learned that discerning your purpose, your calling, your dharma is not a one-time event, but a life-long practice. Mindfulness has helped me time and again to lean into uncertainty and live my questions. I’ve learned that not knowing is perfectly acceptable way to be. I’ve learned to let my gut instinct lead the way, even when my skeptical mind wants me to do everything to minimize risk.
Need a little help figuring out your calling and trusting your gut? Join me for my latest online retreat! I’m accepting new participants until July 30th. Discounts available; more fun with a friend.