The bare truth of my life is that I get paid to find funny YouTube videos to show middle schoolers.
Apparently my generation got raised on a you've-got-something-really-special-to-share cultural beverage mixed with you-can-do-anything syrup. I'm not going to lie. Sometimes, I read books about calling right before trying to find these uproarious PG videos, and something feels awfully wrong about my life, like there's a unicorn trapped inside and I'm too busy searching out SNL videos without four-letter words to let it out.
You can call it whatever you want. Calling is its most popular name. Kasey and I call it the big hairy Christian something. It's the pressure undergraduates at Christian colleges feel as they try to cobble all their deepest passions, their most painful childhood memories, and their most basic traits into one coherent calling that sounds legit, pays the bills, draws the insta-likes, lasts a lifetime, and lets the unicorn out of its iron cage.
And wherever we go, we want to be there because we are called. It's not awful. It's just frustrating when you open the cage and find there's no such thing as a unicorn. At least not as you imagined it.
Let's draw this unicorn analogy way too far.
Your unicorn is your calling, right? It's where your deepest gladness meets the world's deepest ache. It's the life vested inside you that was made to be given away. It's the yearning to take wrong things about the world and make them right. Yada. Yada. Yadayada.
We think there's just one oversized unicorn. And it's still in there for a combination of two reasons: 1) we haven't found him yet, or 2) the world's got some nerve not seeing it yet.
In a plot twist, there's multiple unicorns. And far from being stuck inside, they're actually sitting across from you at coffee shops between lattes, passing you in the street with thin smiles, and staring at you while you work and daydream about it. In my case, I actually wake up next to a unicorn.
You see, being a middle school youth director and certified daydreamer teaches you a couple things. It's teaching me one thing in particular right now:
You don't go places & do things because you have a calling; you have a calling because you're going those places and doing those things.
Don't get me wrong: discernment is important. Don't just throw your 'yes' at anybody and anything that wants it. But I don't have the privilege of waking up and wondering if I'm truly called to be in middle school ministry. Beyond imaginary worlds where things turn out ideally, I am called to middle school ministry.
Whatever it looks like to figure out calling before you do something, that'a a different conversation. I am called to middle schoolers simply because I am there. Saying 'no' before might have been discerning. Saying 'no' after seasons change may well be responsible.
But saying 'no' in the middle? That's just good ol' flaking. In a world of fears and ideals, you and I live in reality, a curious space between the two. Ideally, we'd have just one unicorn. Just one calling for the rest of our lives without any shred of doubt or insecurity. But when we settle into reality, we discover where God lives. It where fear and imperfection live. It's also where creative love reigns and, out of life's raw stuff, beauty grows.
p.s.: gettin off my high horse now
photo: basil, our cat, who wasn't there because she had a calling but had a calling because she was there