Right after I graduated college, I kind of had an identity crisis. I had just gotten back from an amazing semester abroad, which I had expected would magically crystalize my life’s purpose (wrong). I thought having a degree would mean having a career plan (wrong again). In the following year I worked at a cute boutique, considered moving to California, began working at a bank, and looked for ways to not be working at a bank anymore.
The whole while I was agonizing over God’s will for my life. I had this idea that God’s will for my life was something very defined that I needed to find and live out. But what did God want me to do with my abilities? My resources? My time? What if I was missing out on God’s actual will for my life? How would I know if I I found God’s will for my life? What if I found it, didn’t realize it was God’s will, and started doing something else?
One problem with all of those questions is they started with me. My, I, mine. I think you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out this notion of God’s personalized will for you life. Because if God’s will is something very specific but hidden that I’m supposed to find out there, well, what if I don’t? Does that make life one giant oops? And here’s the thing, I’m pretty prone to making mistakes.
I’m trying to live into the idea that God’s will for my life is much more mysterious than all these things I want God’s will to be. I can’t think God’s will for me will be realized by finding that “one” right career, the “one” right person to marry–God’s will is much, much bigger than my life. It’s a calling to a lifestyle, and relationship, and adventure.
And really, we already have some idea of God’s will for our lives:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (I Thessalonians 5:8).
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
I still get frustrated often about where I am, what I’m doing or not doing, and where I’m headed. I return to the quote below often, because reading it feels like taking a great, deep breath. If you’re reading this, I hope it gives you some peace, too.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.