I am one of those people who like to have a long range plan of sorts. In some ways it’s more like a long range goal because I’m not super anal about the steps along the way or putting all the pieces in place ahead of time. I do really like to know what I’m shooting for though. This is where discernment comes in.
For those who have been following along at home, I’m in a chaplaincy residency, which is a yearlong program – August to August — where I’m, for all intents and purposes, a chaplain at a children’s hospital. But here’s the rub, I’m not a staff chaplain, this is not a long term job. This means that part of this process is discernment, specifically vocational discernment.
I sometimes wish I was one of those people who had a lifelong dream to be something. Like my sister who’s wanted to be a vet since she could talk. When I’m not being overly simplistic, I realize that that path of discernment comes with its own potholes and roadblocks. I use to have it easier in that I went into seminary loving going to church but having zero interest in working in one, as in none, as in, I thought I’d reassess when I was 40. But the Holy Spirit is a little more fun than that, for which I am grateful.
So here I am, missing my job as justice pastor at the church, and living into the hard but wonderful job as a chaplain resident. I’ve been at this for about a month and here’s what my daily inner monologue has looked like: I love this! I’m gonna do it for forever. Wait, today was boring, I had no one to visit. I wanna be in the church. I miss organizing ministry. I wanna preach. I just had the most fulfilling day. I love visiting with patients and families. What’s with this over 40 hours a week in the same place thing?! What if I was a trapeze artist? … You get the point.
But I was doing that every day. Like somehow I thought vocational discernment meant voting for my preferred job at the end of every day and seeing what got the most tally marks. The end result of this has been stress, confusion, and probably a bit of a “grass is greener” complex. It has not helped me to live gratefully in the present. Thankfully, I have an awesome husband, who not only took care of my under the weather, stuck at home self these last few days, but also helped me think through some of the neurosis that bubbles to the surface when I’m stuck in bed too long.
He told me, “Ours is to be faithful today.” Oh, right. It was a moment of Holy Spirit awakening. Our job is not to try and plan out every step of the way, or we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and we will very well miss out on how we are to live out our vocation as Children of God for today. So what might being faithful to today look like? (All thoughts are appreciated)
For now, we’ve decided it means being committed to spending some of our (my husband and my’s) nightly prayer time once a week to praying for discernment in both of our separate vocations and in our calling together.
It means (for me) going in and being the best chaplain resident I can be each and every day and not spending time on planning my own future when I could be listening to the Holy Spirit about how to offer care to the people in front of me.
It means trusting that this isn’t all mine to figure out, that I have been lead this far and that I believe we were promised we will not be left orphans.
How are you faithful to today?