Finding your vocation takes trust
There are endless ways to live out vocation. God’s not going anywhere.
During my last semester of graduate school, I asked Jesus for a sign of what to do next. I felt anxious not knowing where I was headed or who would be coming with me.
“Help me,” I begged in prayer one day. “Trust me,” Christ answered.
I got my master of divinity degree so I could get a job serving the church. I spent three years preparing to be a college campus minister. My plan was set. But the saying goes that if you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans. The more resumes I sent out, the more unsettled I felt.
“Help me,” I continued to pray. “Trust me,” Christ continued to say.
In hindsight I recognize my discernment was more about learning to trust God than deciding on any particular job. That would come later. My trust grew through a few spiritual practices. Most mornings and evenings, I gather with the monks of St. John’s Abbey to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Over time I noticed how many psalms affirm the active presence of the divine in human callings. The psalmist exclaims, “You are close to all who call you, who call you from their hearts” (Ps. 145). Another says, “On the day I called, you answered, you increased the strength of my soul” (Ps. 138). Over time I began to believe the words of our communal prayers. God works with and within us.
I also carved out space for contemplation. Sometimes I journaled. Other times I just sat quietly. After a tough job interview, my dad told me, “You already know what to do. Now just grow still and listen.” The God who “knit me together in my mother’s womb” continues to weave wisdom into my heart. St. Ignatius of Loyola would say we come to know wisdom by paying attention to our feelings. St. Benedict would say attentiveness, a stepping stone to trust, is cultivated by spending time in silence.
Conversations with good friends and mentors helped, too. I met for tea with professors who helped sort out my thoughts. I checked in with classmates who felt equally daunted by the question: What comes next? I took long walks with my best friend. His gift of seeing Christ in the poor helped me realize my Christian vocation should lead me to the margins of society.
I encountered the living God through these holy people, the psalms, and the quiet. I realized God will be with me whether I’m a campus minister, hospital chaplain, or Sportscenter anchor. I could be single, married, or part of a religious community. God’s not going anywhere. There are endless ways to live out my vocation.
I recently accepted a job as a parish youth minister. It felt like the right next step—and I can’t plan much beyond that. What I do matters. Who I am matters even more. This time of discernment taught me my primary vocation is to be Jessie Bazan, beloved member of the Body of Christ.
Photo by ANDRIK ↟ LANGFIELD ↟ PETRIDES on Unsplash
This article is part of a series of reflections on faith and vocation that appeared in our August 2017 issue. The essays will be collected here as they are published.