Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Will You Pick UP! It's God.

One of my blogger friends, Elizabeth, is exploring the topic of major and minor life callings. This is a fascinating idea, and I am intrigued. Some people think that life is random, but I'm not part of that group. I think that there is something to be learned from every event, encounter, relationship, and I've been working on adopting an attitude of gratitude. When I was in high school there was a poster that displayed this saying, and I stared at it blankly every day of my life for a whole year. I didn't get it. After about 17 years, I guess the light bulb finally flicked on. One can consider this a little miracle without offending me, because I agree.

Have I felt called in small and larger ways? Definitely. My first calling was to motherhood. Ask my mom. I had all my baby dolls lined up in my room. I fed my stuffed animals real oatmeal. I was a very nurturing little girl. From as far back as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother.

When I was in fifth grade I scored the highest in my grade on a creative writing test. My teacher took me outside in the hall. I thought I was in trouble, because he was all red in the face. Actually, he was beaming. "Why didn't you tell me that you could write like that?" He asked. I just shrugged. That was the day I learned I had a talent. From that point on English was my favorite subject.

I always knew I wanted to pursue marriage as a vocation, but I was actually very selective, (don't laugh, Milk Man). I had really high standards, because when I finally did marry, I wanted it to be a relationship that could grow and last. What is "love at first sight?" I don't know exactly, but I do believe in extreme like at first sight. I believe in I-want-to-be-with-this-person-all-the-time at first sight, and wow, this-person-actually-challenges-my-intellect at first sight. That's what I had with Milk Man, (brownie points). One can experience all that several times, but how do you discern that you are called to marry a specific person? I wasn't sure, so I secretly prayed about it..., a lot. Then God hit me over the head with a brick.

I was at Happy Hour with Milk Man at this dockside restaurant called Captain Bill's eating my favorite appetizer, steamed mussels, when I looked up. Outside the window was this party boat called "The Lauren Kristy." Because I had been praying about Milk Man, that was solid confirmation for me.

Since then I've recognized other ways that I feel I'm being called in one direction or another. It has been through opportunities to be present in times of need for friends, family members, or even random strangers. I 've found that when I am able to take these opportunities, I feel a sense that God is at work in my life.

When I was still working after my first child was born, I felt called to leave my job to be home with him. I wasn't sure it would be possible, financially. Plus, I still wanted to help teens in some way. This feeling led me into the field of Youth Ministry, where I currently work. I truly believe that God helped me through that decision to give up my profession for a while. In subtle ways, my children reaffirm this decision for me almost daily.

Sometimes, when God calls, I don't feel like picking up the phone. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to do or say things that don't make sense at the moment, and I might never find out if the action was worthwhile. I think that is God calling me again.

Once, when I was working as a teacher I had a conflict with a senior in one of my classes. She was researching the topic of abortion, and wanted to include some really gory pictures in her class presentation. I told her no, and she did it anyway. I gave her a poor grade. Although the research was good, she did not respect my wishes. She complained to the principal that I let my own opinion about the topic cloud my judgement on her grade. She was angry at me and lashing out for some reason. I really just didn't want her to show the pictures to the class because parents would complain. It was not necessary.

As one can imagine, I was angry at this student for attacking my livelihood. I thought she was being spiteful over a grade. I stuck to my guns. One of her friends approached me in private and told me that this particular student had had an abortion, and was angry at me because she knew I was pro life. "She looks up to you. So when she asked your personal opinion on the topic, she took your honest response as an attack on what she had done." The friend explained. Oh. Well, of course I realized she was hurt and confused by her loss, but I was still mad as heck at how she had lied to my boss about me. I decided that night that I would never make eye contact with this student again. In fact, that was the last thought I had before I fell asleep.

That night I dreamt about a man I had observed on a retreat I chaperoned once. He was a potter. He made an analogy between clay and your life. "You can rebuild yourself at any time." I remember being very moved, but woke up that morning not knowing why I had dreamt about someone I had met briefly several years earlier.

I taught in the same classroom most of the day, and I can tell you with certainty that there was no clay on the floor until the class before I had to encounter this student. The period before I had to leave that room, when the desks were moved into a circle, there it was. A fresh ball of grey clay was suddenly in the center of the classroom floor. The kids must have thought I was crazier than usual that day, because I was shocked to see it there. No one knew about my dream except me and God. I knew I was supposed to pick it up and put it in my pocket, so I did.

Walking down the hall to the computer lab to meet the next class, I must have looked nuts. I know I was talking to myself, in an actual argument with God. "I can't believe you want me to talk to this girl. I don't want to talk to this girl!" I complained.

When I arrived I called her outside. She came out all cocky, ready to take me on. I took the clay out of my pocket and thought, "Alright, if I have to speak to her, YOU give me some words." I was thinking AT God. The girl was staring, assuming I was going to get angry at her.

"I bet when your boyfriend dumped you last year you felt like this," I took the clay and smashed it against the locker. As we stared for a moment at each other, her eyes got glassy. Then something changed. She started to laugh, and cry. I even got choked up. We hugged. "Your friend told me. I know you're in a lot of pain. You can start over again. You can be anything you want. It's still all good. " I gave her the clay.

It was an amazing moment. After that I had a connection with that student. Other than the event of the birth of my own children, I have never felt God's presence so keenly than at that moment. I felt sure that being pro-life was a good thing, and I wasn't afraid to take a stand for it. I saw the pain and agony that abortion inflicts on women. Also, I felt an urge again to reach out to teens in some other way. So, that was another brick. I'm glad I picked up the phone that time.

True, it's only because of the perspective I choose to take that I view these events as callings. It's a hopeful perspective that makes for a richer life. I constantly feel confirmed in ways that are difficult to put into words. Readers, tell me about your callings...comment.


Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Wow! You really describe these scenes so well I could practically see them happening. I think the way God calls us must be totally unique for all of us because we are that special!

Milk Man said...

Okay. It's time you knew the truth. I paid a guy to paint that name on the boat.

Anonymous said...

Loren, you write beautifully. This essay about God calling is just wonderful. I got teary eyed reading about your encounter with your student. This piece is proof of the amazing power of prayer.

Loren Christie said...

Milk Man,
What's your doctoral research on...? Oh, that's right, self-sabotage. Hell Hound says she's willing to complete a survey for you. Meet her tonight in the dog house. LOOOOOVE, Loren

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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