A couple weeks ago I participated in leading a Vocational Retreat for a group of young adults who are living in Chicago. This group of young people have chosen to spend a year of their lives in service- working with children, partnering with churches, living in community, enjoying the city, and exploring their calling. The latter is where I had the pleasure of joining their conversation. And we asked a ton of questions!
- How do I know if I'm pursuing God's calling or my own ego?
- Will I ever know if I'm really ready to pursue my calling?
- How do I prepare myself for setting boundaries since I already feel so closely connected to the issue I feel called to pursue?
- Why won't God take away all my fears about pursuing my vocation?
- How will I support myself if I pursue my vocation? (We decided that we at least want to afford cheese and crackers for dinner.)
- What am I supposed to do when God puts up a stop sign, when I thought I was pursuing His plan rather brilliantly?
As they revealed how they journeyed from their childhood dream to their current dream vocation, there was a common occurrence. We called it "the stop sign". At some point each of them was on the path of pursuing a specific dream, when all of a sudden there was a dead end, a closed door, someone said no... a stop sign. We learned that for each of them, it was this stop sign that caused them to pursue another dream, ultimately leading them to their vocation. Unfortunately for us all, the stop sign feels a lot like devastation. When we reach a real stop sign, we simply decide which direction to go- left, right, forward. There is very little emotional connection to this common pause in life. But a stop sign while pursuing a dream feels more akin to driving off the cliff (or maybe thats just me).
Hence how we arrived at the need to spend a little more time sipping margaritas with God. Pursuing a vocation that somehow involves using the threads of justice, church, pain and conflict to weave something that resembles goodness, community and life is intense. It's intense to ponder, let alone pursue. So we need to take a couple time outs. When the stop sign comes, don't freak out. Don't drive off the cliff. Embrace the pause, and sip a margarita with God.
Despite all of our questions and the anxiety that comes with them, we affirmed with one another that our peace can be found in God. It is ultimately Him that we pursue, not the vocation itself. Our image of the margarita has little to do with the alcohol content, and more to do with friendship, community, peacefulness, and maybe even a little fun! Anytime I am sipping margaritas with friends there is a lot of laughter involved. Imagine that- laughter with God, tossing your head back and not being afraid to say exactly what you think, exactly how you feel. Imagine pouring your heart out conspiratorially with the God you love.
We imagined ourselves leaving the devastation of the stop sign, laying down the intensity of the pursuit and resting in Him- perhaps even over a margarita! Thanks, Dwell Chicago, for reminding me to delight in God.