As I have gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that life seldom goes according to our plans. This is probably not news to most of you, but I’m a bit of a slow learner.
See, I used to be the kind of person that made plans and then carried them out. If I wanted something to happen, I made it happen. If I had a dream, I worked to make that dream come true.
But then, life got a little more complicated. Other people came into my life – my husband, my two children – and I needed to take their needs and their dreams into account, too.
And sometimes, it doesn’t matter how hard you try or how badly you want it – life doesn’t go according to your plan.
When my husband and I got married, we dreamed of moving overseas. We visited other countries and cultures. We felt a sense of calling, and we made plans.
But when we began to implement the steps in those plans, other things shifted. Barriers cropped up. Reality looked different than we thought it would. And then our dreams brought about different dreams, and some of those dreams gave rise to yet other dreams. Eight years later, we are still living here in the States, and it’s looking likely that we will be here for good.
For some time, I struggled to make sense of this. Did we fail? Did we miss our life’s calling?
The truth is that a calling in life usually has very little to do with a specific career path. It has little to do with a certain kind of education or geographic location.
Instead, a calling is more about becoming the person you were meant to be. It’s about becoming the best and truest version of yourself. And the journey to becoming that person could take many shapes and forms and paths.
But for most of us, there are often some common denominators in that journey: Suffering. Discontentment. Relinquishing the need for control. Forgiving. Accepting others, and yourself – warts and all. Surrender.
You could probably add a few things to the list.
If you are struggling with contentment:
Perhaps if you look again, you will see that many of your desires and longings have actually already been fulfilled – or all the pieces are in place, just waiting for you to step inside. Things may look differently than you thought they would, but perhaps they are there, nonetheless.
If you are mourning the death of a dream:
Perhaps if you look again, you will find that your old dreams have gotten out of the way in order to make room for your new dreams. If that’s the case, pack up those old dreams, put them away on a shelf, and unpack a few new dreams instead. Who knows? You might come back to the former dreams again someday, but you might not even miss them.
If you are looking around and wondering how you got to the place where you are:
Perhaps if you look again, you will see that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Sometimes we can’t step into our true lives, our true selves, until our own plans have been laid aside. But you haven’t missed your calling. You haven’t failed. (What a relief, eh?)
May you find peace today in trusting that you are on your way to becoming the person you are meant to be, no matter where you find yourself.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
This post was first published in 2013, but it’s republished today because it still rings just as true.