dear hilary: call out

Dear Hilary,

What makes a calling big (and none of this bullshit about how we are all called to big things and I should just be thankful for the thousands of gifts I have right now)? Real talk: what does it mean to be called?

Love,
Over It

Dear Over It,

So, you want to real talk. We can real talk. We can sit down here, in this space – let me buy you a cup of coffee (dry cappuccino or mocha something or cider, if you want to feel like fall) – and we can real talk.

I could look up calling in the dictionary and talk about the sense of desire for work. But you’d probably see through that, right? Tell me that anyone can look up and parse a definition?

I could tell you the lilting words of the many wise writers that calling is about the sense of doing what you cannot not do, that it is about gladness meeting need, that the world and you meet in a field somewhere, literal or metaphorical or imagined, and hash it out, and you emerge with a sense that you have purpose. But from what you ask me, from the way your question sounded when I first read it, you’d ask for more than that, too, right? You want something else. You want more.

Here is more: you aren’t supposed to fake a contentment in your life just because others appear to have found it. On the road to the unfolding of your calling there is nothing more problematic than trying to pretend you have found it before you have, to tell yourself the lie that this is all you have been given so you better sit down and play at peace and joy because you won’t get anything else. Peace and joy aren’t playthings. They’re things you hunger after with your whole heart and mind and body and things you fight for (and sometimes with) and the thing I want to tell you is that you cannot fake your way to a calling.

So why don’t you wrestle?

Why don’t you hang on with your limbs and stray thoughts tangled together, with everything you have, to the question what is my calling? Why aren’t you fighting harder for a way through the thicket, or standing at the edge of things and shouting that you want to know where God is and where He is going, that you are tired of living in the pretend of “already-finding-contentment” because that’s not gratitude, really, is it? We both know that. We both know that it is better to go out and holler in a field that there is nothing you know right now than to sit on the concrete sidewalk and be wounded by what you haven’t actually wrestled with.

Peace and joy more often arrive fiery. Peace and joy aren’t pretty feelings, they’re movements in and around you. Contentment is about a stillness that comes both without and within, about a listening to God, about a listening to yourself. Your letter to me tells me that you haven’t shouted much about it. And we are both like this. I cup the questions of big calling or wild calling in my hands and run in the woods with them, careful like I’m holding a baby bird that will break. But the question isn’t fragile. And God is not.

And the truth is, I am not, either.

We are both wild and brave enough to face the question of a big calling, without the comfort of trying to make ourselves content with what we see. We are both brave enough to launch out and say, “THIS I LOVE” or “THIS I CHERISH” or “THIS, THIS, GOD, DO YOU SEE ME?” and wait for an answer.

It is a long story in the Bible of people who strive with God, who go out into the field to yell and holler and ask.

You have to do that before you can get still enough to hear an answer. And being called?

Maybe for us, maybe for you, it means actually more about how you are calling out to God and asking to be called back to. Maybe it is about the sound of your voice meeting the Word, being silenced and changed by it. Maybe rather than worrying that you have or don’t have a big calling, or what it even means (because I doubt anyone can tell you the feeling or the way you know or the kind of thing that it is)

you can call out -

Do you see me? 

And hold that up, and hear.

Love,
hilary

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5 thoughts on “dear hilary: call out

  1. Hilary, this is so good. I am learning, even now, even again, what it looks like to ask the questions and say things honestly in solitude, the way I feel so free to in sweet community. And this pulls me right back to that – thank you. Beautiful and full and good.

  2. “Peace and joy aren’t playthings. They’re things you hunger after with your whole heart and mind and body and things you fight for (and sometimes with) and the thing I want to tell you is that you cannot fake your way to a calling.” This is refreshing in contrast to scattered easy-theology surrounding the abiding in and gifting of joy and peace.
    This was a particularly relevant read for me, thanks!

  3. Hilary, this is one my favorites. “You aren’t supposed to fake a contentment in your life just because others appear to have found it” – this is so true and something I have felt often. Thank you for writing this beautiful letter.

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