Monday, November 2, 2015

Does Vocation Demand a Choice?

For those of you who have followed my blog since its inception, you'll recall its original name, Vocational Mothering. I chose the name because I've always been fascinated by the word vocation. I love how it can elevate any task that we do, no matter how trivial, when we understand it as a response to God's call.

I changed the name partially because I sensed a growing confusion. Some understood Vocational Mothering to mean that mothering was one's sole, all-consuming task. By extension, therefore, this blog was only for stay at home mothers. That's far from the case. 

Mothering is an all-consuming task, but it isn't everything that we are. In addition to being a mother, we are also a woman, a friend, often a wife, and sometimes a worker. God's call in our lives can be complicated in the hats we wear, but simple in that it perfectly meets us where we are and with what we have to offer. 

One mother beautifully describes this balancing act, this juggle, in a fashion that I found relatable and inspiring. Her name is Kate Harris, and she has three children. Interestingly, I first read her blog when I was starting mine. I again stumbled across her work last week and want to share it with you. She writes specifically for women:

"Vocation is often understood in terms of a job or career, but historically it meant much more than that. When we understand its deeper significance, we find a meaningful and consistent framework to help us think about our multiple life commitments.

Vocation is best understood as 'one's entire life lived in response to God's voice.' This definition, from my friend and colleague Dr. Steven Garber, is the closest I have come to finding a framework big enough to make sense of my life and work. It gives space for the dimensionality of my identity as a daughter, sister, wife, writer, friend, manager and more. It gives account for the physical work of pregnancy and nursing, while never insisting those wearying months be wholly separate from other efforts such as writing an article during naptime, teaching my other children to read or attending a seminar. This understanding of vocation never makes me choose once and for all between the thrill of crafting a new grant program and the simple joy of visiting with a good friend late into the evening. I can live into my vocation in both places—allowing it to inform the work I do and the kind of friend I am.

Such a definition of vocation will ask me to make practical trade-offs. But vocation never asks me to compartmentalize my life into artificial categories of 'work' and 'life,' or 'home' and 'market.' Vocation offers the possibility that my life and my faith can be richly and imaginatively stewarded as a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

God cares that I steward the life that is in front of me right now. To wrestle and wrangle or muddle my way through it—whatever it takes—but always to insist that it makes sense, that it holds together. To believe the details of our days really do connect to some bigger purpose God has for our lives."

I wonder if her description resonates with you? To read more about Kate's thoughtful work, visit this link through the Barna Group. 


This week, I will be going to Q Women's Leadership Conference in Nashville. One of the topics that will be covered is vocation. Check Twitter this weekend, as I will be sure to pass on any tidbits I am learning. I'm also looking forward to reviewing the co-founder of Q's recent book, Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning, soon.

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