The Lord has a sense of humor. If I needed more evidence than the platypus, He’s been providing in both my prayer and school.
In my prayer, I’m working through the Ignatian Exercises – a retreat focused on following Christ more closely, knowing Him more intimately, and loving Him more intensely. (In case you’re interested, I’m using the 19th annotation (meaning it’s done in one’s daily life) The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. The original retreat is meant to be done over 30 days in silence. I don’t have that luxury.). The theme of “call” is coming up over and over again.
School is just starting up again, and I am dragging my feet to do two of my classes: leadership and health policy. I start reviewing what I need to do for a portfolio assignment for my leadership class. In explaining what she wants from the assignment, the professor is talking over and over again about “mission” and “call.” It wants us to come up with a plan for our life, essentially forcing us to come up with a five-year plan.
I get it, Jesus. Let’s focus on my mission and call.
I used to love five year plans. I used to have so much planned out! Then my deepest held desires for my five year plan failed. I wanted to be married by now. I wanted to maybe even have a child or two by now. I wanted to be living out my mission as a wife and mother by now.
I remember when my ex and I discussed our five year plan. Both of us wanted to be married in five years. That was over four years ago, and I haven’t had a five-year plan since our breakup. He’s married. I’m not. And worst of all, I feel like I’m the farthest thing from married.
I won’t lie. I’ve been avoiding praying on my mission and call because it’s painful for me to examine this area of my life. I strongly desire to become a wife and mother. I have for at least a decade, with the ache and desire to be a wife and a mother growing with time.
How if I’m called to be a wife and mother have I been single for 4 years? How if I’m called to be a wife and mother am I voluntarily putting my dating life on the back burner while I’m in full-time graduate school and working enough hours to qualify as full-time? The call becomes all the more apparent each time I have watched friends and family have become married with children.
Don’t get me wrong. I am so excited for these friends and family. I strongly dislike that twinge on my heart that aches, “why not me?” when they share their happy news. I am actively working on being happy for others. However, I cannot deny that the ache remains and grows.
So, what’s my mission? What’s my vision? What’s my goal? To be married with children. To be a stay-at-home mom who works 2 days a week. To work in whatever capacity in nursing that supports that goal.
I don’t care if I’m in a pre-op clinic. I don’t care if I’m in a family medicine clinic. I don’t care if I’m a professor of nursing. I don’t care if I’m a nurse practitioner on a ward. I do not care. I have learned enough in my almost 6 years of nursing that my career has never fulfilled me as much as my family and friends have. Yes, it has been an absolutely beautiful way to express the love of Christ, but I know I am called to a greater, deeper, more vulnerable love in the family.
So, what’s my mission? What do I do in this weird interim time where I know where my call lies in a large sense but am not there yet? What do I do?
I’ve been focusing on Jesus’s life in Nazareth. I’ve written about living my Nazareth before, but Good Lord, it is lasting forever.
But I forget that even though the Gospels talk about Nazareth for a verse or two, it lasted decades. Jesus lived in Nazareth from age 2 to 30. He saw His friends get married and start families. He witnessed His cousin John the Baptist start his ministry. He remained working while others had started living their mission.
Jesus knows this ache. He knows how it feels to work at something that is not going to be His final mission. He knows what it is like to continually watch others start a greater call while you wait. He knows the sense of loss, the sense of ache, the sense of knowing something greater is on its way.
I do not know my mission. A mission outlines objectives and how those objectives will be reached. I don’t know how I’ll meet my spouse. I don’t know if it’ll be easy for me to have kids. I don’t know how its all going to work out.
But I have a vision, a desired future position. I desire to be a wife and a mother who follows Christ closely, loves Him intensely, and knows Him intimately. Christ knows my ache, dreams, desires. He will work with me to reach this vision. And I know the more I sit with Him discerning this call is leading me closer to His vision for my life.
I do not know my mission, but neither did Peter, John, Andrew, and James. When Jesus called the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11), they did not know everything they were getting into. Frankly, I don’t think Peter who have thought he was good enough to be the first pope. I don’t think John would the confidence to know Jesus would give him His mother at the crucifixion. I don’t think Andrew would have the strength to know he’d be a martyr. I don’t think James would think he was qualified to teach the early church.
Instead of laying out a mission, Jesus gave the first disciples a vision: “I will make you fishers of men.” As much as I want to know the little details of my future mission, I do know it’s for the best that I don’t know all the details. If I knew everything nursing was, I don’t think I would have chosen it because the vulnerability would have scared me, the night shifts would have intimidated me, and the suffering would have broken me.
In the same way, I know it’s for the better that I don’t know everything there is to know about marriage. The vulnerability scares me, the late nights with small children intimidates me, and the suffering may break me. But I know my Savior will be with me. His vision is one I can trust, and His mission is the one I want to live out.
Now to come up with a fake five-year plan for my class. 😉