Vocation Journeys Are Rarely Simple, Because Existence is Complicated

Journey back with me for a moment. Close your eyes. Wait, don’t do that. Read this first and then close your eyes. Pick an age between 12-16. Place yourself back there on an ordinary day. Not the day you won the Spelling Bee, or got your driver’s license, or had your first kiss, just an ordinary day. I chose 7th grade chemistry with Mr. Kon at Richardson North Junior High School on a Tuesday.

Try to go back to that place and look at the years sprawled before you, not as current you, but as past you. What did you see yourself doing? Where did you see yourself going? How did you see your faith being lived out?

(Close your eyes and do all of that…)

I will share mine out of fairness to the process. Here is how 12 year-old Kristen saw her life playing out:
Survive Junior High.
Make the TMEA All-State Choir
Graduate High School.
Go to college (Either A&M or Baylor) and major in music education.
Become a music teacher in RISD (Richardson Independent School District)
Marry the perfect blend of tall, lanky, and dorky.
Birth equally tall, lanky, and dorky children into the world.
Conduct the TMEA All-State Choir one day.

(Open your eyes)

Yours is likely different from mine in particulars, and maybe you are one of the lucky ones for whom everything worked out exactly as intended, but for the rest of us, we might share particulars in the sense that nothing turned out entirely as planned.

For one, I am single and childless and ended up becoming a United Methodist pastor. Furthermore, as of next Saturday, I am living in North Carolina and am shifting vocational careers away from music ministry. There is some small part of me that worries I have failed, that because I was not able to fulfill my original plans I have somehow given up faithfulness.

The larger part, however, remembers that vocational discernment when done faithfully is rarely simple and rarely what we think it will be. Life, by design, is rarely simple and also rarely what we think it will be, so why do we assume that God is any different?

As we wrap up another graduation season, I wish I could go to 18 year-old Kristen on her graduation day and tell her, “Just wait. You have no idea, and that is a very good thing.” God does not call us to be fortune-tellers, God calls us simply to be faithful to where the road leads.