I sat in the darkened auditorium watching a series of slides: different women laboring hard to bring their babies into this world, while Tracy Chapman’s The Promise played quietly in the background. I felt like I had finally discovered what it was that I wanted to devote my life’s work to. This made no practical sense – as most callings never do. They are stirrings in your heart, your soul, your very being – that will not be ignored.
For some people, a calling might have to echo around for awhile before it gets noticed. But that’s not what happens to me. I’ve had the wonder of being receptive to such callings my whole life and when they first started happening, as a young girl, I would need a little bit of that echoing to occur. I’d need to hear it first as a whisper, then maybe a sweet conversation and then a stern lecture before I’d give it the attention that it deserved.
But after enough practice, I knew that when I heard, or rather, felt the first hint of, “What do you think about this?” that I should pay close attention and lean in, if only to see where it would lead me. Most of the major decisions in my life up to this moment have been the wonderful result of paying close attention to a calling.
Eighteen and half years ago, I was in a place of not knowing. I was in a job that I hated, and feeling stuck in that way that can be just so stubborn sometimes. I was interviewing all over the place to continue work in the non-profit sector. I would get called back to find myself one of two candidates being seriously considered for the job – only to lose out to the other person.
The doors weren’t just shutting on me, they were being slammed in my face. Or, so I thought. In retrospect (which is really the only way to look at things, right?), these doors were closing so that I wouldn’t be distracted when my real calling came. So that answering this calling would be easy because there were no other competing or compelling reasons not to.
But did it make any sense? No. I was at a doula training so that I could be at my best friend’s birth. That was it. She had asked me to be there, and I had said yes by signing up for a workshop in Seattle. I had no babies myself. I wasn’t even considering trying to get pregnant at the time. I had a healthy respect for pregnancy and birth as something that I would do someday, but I’d never even considered a job in this field.
And then… as I watched the images of women who were strangers to me work with such ferocity and strength at this task that seemed nothing less than miraculous, I couldn’t deny what was happening in my mind and heart. This was not a quiet, “What do you think about this?” moment. This was a screaming-jumping-up-and-down-with-a-bullhorn: “This is what you’re supposed to be doing with your life! Now – go find a way to make it happen!” moment. And so I did. But that’s another story for another time.
This is also an answer to a calling. I’m called to write, and I’m in the middle of a book about this subject that has so captivated me for almost two decades. So, I answer this call by pledging to post on my blog for 31 days straight. Not an easy task, as I barely got through it last year. But just by sitting my butt down to write every single day for the month of October, I challenge myself to develop a practice that honors this secondary calling. One that is as valuable and potentially more impactful than what I’ve already been able to do through my job of guiding thousands of expectant families on their path toward becoming parents.
All I know is that when I’ve answered any calling in the past, I’ve never been steered in the wrong direction. It has always been a gift to me. I hope that in answering this call of writing specifically about that tricky transition into parenthood – the 4th Trimester – there will be gifts given to those who read my words. I’m using the prompts provided by the fabulous Kate Motaung at Five Minute Friday as a focus, but let’s be clear, I will be taking a lot longer than five minutes to write my posts! Please don’t feel pressured to keep up – there will be lots of them – but if you know of anyone who’s expecting or is right in the middle of new parenting whom you think might find some comfort in my words, send them my way. Thanks for your support as I try to answer this particular calling.
Have you ever experienced a true calling? Where, in the stillness, your heart leapt with the joy of a resounding “Yes!”? Did you follow that calling? I’d love to know.