humiliation is temporary

… before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck. I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice. But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are created.

I love the fact that the word humus – the decayed vegetable matter that feeds the roots of plants – comes from the same root that gives rise to the word humility. It is a blessed etymology. It helps me understand that the humiliating events of life, the events that leave “mud on my face” or that “make my name mud,” my create the fertile soil in which something new can grow. (p. 103)

Palmer, Parker J. (2000). Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

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Vocation as a Gift

I just read this and am so touched by it. In my church, we celebrate individuals who are willing to give up a comfortable life and their careers to do missionary work. Last May, during our church conference, the visiting pastor challenged us, “Those who are willing to give up anything for God, come to the altar right now.” I couldn’t bring myself to go down, even as I watch the throngs of people strolling to the front. At that time, I thought I had finally found my calling in academia, I found a job that I enjoyed. I was willingly a workaholic because I loved my work. To be very honest to myself and God, if at that point God wanted me to give it all up, I would be quite unwilling. So I did not go down to the altar.

That concept of vocation is rooted in a deep distrust of selfhood, in the belief that the sinful self will always be “selfish” unless corrected by external forces of virtue. It is a notion that made me feel inadequate to the task of living my own life, creating guilt about the distance between who I was and who I was supposed to be, leaving me exhausted as I labored to close the gap.

Today I understand vocation quite differently – not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received. Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God. (p. 10)

Regarding finding your true self, about what you were meant to do already written in your nature, as God’s message to guide you, I believe in that. Why is it that I so long to go overseas to live, yet I have friends who have that opportunity but so desire to stay put in Singapore? Is it something within us, guiding us. Why is it that some people try to hard to make it work out where they currently are, they have decided to stay put, and rejected offers from other places, but they continue to be so miserable? Bullied by one boss after another? Is it a sign that it is time to move on?

I gladly accept my vocation as God’s gift to me today. 🙂 And know, I will continue miles onward to find who He truly made me to be.

Palmer, Parker (2000). Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco