Remember career day in elementary school? Armies of adorable second graders roaming the halls dressed as firemen, doctors, teachers and veterinarians, to name a few.
This concept of having a “dream job” truly was engrained in us at an early age. From answering the age old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to declaring our majors, we are always being asked to know what we want to do and who we want to be.
And if we are one of the lucky ones, somewhere along the line we figure it out. We do find our passion, and we dedicate our lives to making this “dream job” come to fruition, whether it be through years and years of schooling or hours spent paying our dues at entry level jobs. We have a goal, know what we want to be, and believe that God’s will has us there.
I recently graduated from seminary with my MA in Intercultural Studies. I am so passionate about international development and anti-trafficking movements that sometimes I feel that I am about to jump out of my skin. However, since graduating I have found it incredibly difficult to find an entry point into that dream vocation. I am currently working in retail management, a field so different from my original plan.
Many times I have felt discouraged or disillusioned, sending in resume after resume to no avail. I am right smack in the middle of a season of waiting and wondering, exploring a question that is important for many of us at some point in our lives: What happens when you do everything “right” and the dream job that you are so passionate about, the vision you feel God has cast for your life, it just doesn’t seem available to you at the moment?
Reframe Your Understanding of God’s Will
I cannot tell you how many well-intentioned people have said to me, “Well, that particular job just must not have been God’s will for your life.” They very well could be right; maybe it wasn’t. But this season in life has given me new insights into the concept of God’s will. Where I used to think of God’s will as a straight line that took me from Point A to Point B, I now view it as a twisting and winding road, and at times perhaps even more of an open pasture.
God’s will is a journey. And while I absolutely believe each and every one of us was placed on this earth for a purpose, I wonder how narrow that purpose might really be. It used to be my greatest fear that I would live outside of God’s will, or somehow miss my calling in life. I now realize that our purpose in life is to love as Christ loved us. To live in community and lift one another up. To work toward justice, peace and God’s redemptive purposes. To usher in the Kingdom of God here on earth. It’s as easy and as difficult as that.
God’s will is not limited to finding ourselves in the correct vocation or career, but rather living out our faith in all areas of life.
Get Creative and Take it Step by Step
When we find ourselves living in this ambiguous waiting period, I’m finding that it is important to take it step by step, season by season. When you start to feel stuck, rather than getting overwhelmed and discouraged, just taking one baby step towards your dream can change your perspective on everything.
Get creative! Perhaps this means finding a place to volunteer your gifts and talents, or maybe you feel called to write and starting a blog would be a good first step. Seize whatever it is is that makes you feel most alive and most whole. Take it and run with it. Understand that seasons will change, but this particular season in life is rife with possibility and affords you the opportunity to dig in, live creatively and really find out who you are and what you are made of.
Recruit the people you are closest to and allow them to speak into your life and dream with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer and seek out advice. So often, our community is able to see things in us that we might not otherwise see in ourselves. This season in life can be incredibly emotional and at times downright frustrating, but embracing community and allowing our people to lift us up when we are feeling discouraged can make all of the difference. We are not alone on this journey.
Stay Flexible, Never Settle and Trust God with Open Palms
There is a difference between being flexible in God’s will and downright settling. If you have found your passion in life, have felt the calling on your heart, never settle for anything less.
However, the key to staying sane in these in-between periods of life is staying flexible. Be patient with the process. Live your life with open palms rather than tightly grasped fists.
I encourage you not to allow this moment in life slip by half-lived, but rather jump in and be fully present. Never doubt that you will get there someday, it just might not look the way you always imagined it would. Trust that God has a purpose for your life and explore what exactly that might mean for you, right now, in this season.