To finish a thought from yesterday’s post, I’m not trying to be critical, or imply that true artists won’t doubt themselves.
I’m feeling the odd security of coming at this from the “other side” as someone who’s been *good* at a number of things, and only have this one where I can’t stop.
(From another conversation, I offer a this:)
The story goes that there was an aspiring young musician who cornered a world-famous violinist and begged the master to listen to him play. If the master was encouraging the young man would devote his life to music. So he played and when he finished the master said: “You lack the fire.” Decades later, the two met again, the young man now a successful business man. “You changed my life,” the man said. “It was a bitter disappointment, giving up music, but I’ve had a good life in the world of commerce. But I’ve always wondered, how could you tell so readily that I lacked the fire?”
“Oh, I hardly listened when you played,” replied the master. “That’s what I tell everyone who plays for me–that they lack the fire.”
“But that’s unforgivable,” said the younger man. “I could have been another Kreisler, another Heifitz–“
The old man shook his head. “You don’t understand,” he said. “If you had had the fire, you would have paid no attention to me.”
Just in the last few months I have become more and more at peace with writing as my vocation (the timing made me think of my friend’s comment about entering my 30s). And as I’ve shifted my thinking from the many to the few I’ve felt an increased peace.
A lovely Boundless article about dreams and calling has this wonderful definition of vocation from Frederick Buechner:
“[It is] the intersection of your own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.”
I don’t think we need to feel gladness every moment we do this (I don’t think I’ve yet dredged up joy while I’m mopping vomit in my mother vocation) but having no joy, constant annoyance, or even sorrow, should be clues that something is missing.
I’m a pretty steady believer in the concept of a hierarchy of needs (though mine doesn’t line up exactly with Maslow’s), so I’ll back up a moment and say that this seeking vocation is basically more detailed work than is even relevant without first having peace with God through submission to Jesus Christ. That is the place to begin if you lack peace in your life.
Here I must repeat one of my *favorite* quotes from C.S. Lewis that was so useful to me when I first entered this stage of awareness:
God makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.
There are those who think Christians should never be unhappy if they really have a correct relationship with God.
There are those (not religious at all) who believe the right soulmate will make them fully happy (and any evidence to the contrary is generally taken instead as evidence they have not yet *found* the right soulmate).
I believe there is a happiness and delight that can only be found in right relationships, but I also believe there is no shame in seeking out what your own “differences” are. Like Lewis wrote, If [God] had no use for all these differences I do not see why He should have created more souls than one.
Since we’ve experienced more and less happiness, we know degrees exist, and so it is entirely reasonable to assume some things can make us happier than others.
In the same way that I could adapt to being a firefighter but don’t think I’d ever be a really good one, I could pursue another vocation, and learn contentment from God within that less-comfortable situation. But thanks be to God, He has not asked me to do that. I can be true both to God and the nature He put into me, finding greater joy in that than (I believe) I’d ever find as a firefighter, or anything else God didn’t make me to be.
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[The original post included a giveaway that is now closed.]