When I was seven years old, my parents moved us from New Jersey to Florida. Their Cuban blood was just too thin for the cold weather. My father drove us down to Miami — not without a stop in Disney World, of course — and as soon as we arrived, I began the third grade. Not only was the palest kid in class, but I was also very new to the whole Catholic thing. I had done the Sunday school bit in the past, but never had I experience religion class as regularly scheduled programming. The whole experience at first was pretty traumatizing.
One day in class, our religion teacher was explaining to us how priest and nuns are called to service. She decided to tell us a story about a potential priest being called by an angel in the middle of the night. Just like that, after seeing an angelic vision, the guy woke up and enrolled in the seminary the next day.
“Holy crap,” I thought. “That’s how it goes down?”
From that day on, for about a week, I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking some giant guy with wings was going to pull me out of my parents’ house and rush me into nun school. While I could see the nobility of living a life of service to your faith, not being able to experience marriage or kids was a sacrifice I wasn’t willing to make.
So I prayed. I prayed not to be call. Because that call to duty seemed so solitary, and I wanted a full life. I wanted it all.
I often experience flashbacks to this dream. And for a while, I just found it cute, but didn’t really try to look for a deeper meaning. Today, I totally get it.
Writing and making a living the way I choose to is not easy. Seriously, there are days I wish I could just be content as an in-house magazine editor or even just running my husband’s business with him. Wouldn’t life be easier that way?
But that work would never make me completely happy. Why? Because I have another calling, and I believe you do, too. Which is why — sigh — I do this work. The frustration comes when we ignore the calling and try to fit into someone else’s life. Been there. Done that. Totally not worth it.
As a kid, hearing that story about the nuns and priests, on some level, I knew my teacher was right: we all have a calling. God, the universe, whatever… gave us life for a reason. He placed us here with gifts, talents, and opportunities that will help us fulfill the purpose he scripted in our soul the day he breathed life into our hearts.
I believe that. I really do.
Oh and that dream? I was so young, but I was already scared of the responsibility and the perceived loneliness that comes with following your calling. Our callings are so intoxicating that we fear the thought of allowing it to consume us, leaving us to neglect all the other parts of our lives that we also love: our families, our friends, and guilty pleasures like wine and late nights dancing.
But what I’ve realized after answering my calling — even when it was just an encrypted whisper — is that it’s less about living a life that was scripted for you and more about being a vehicle for the message that wants to come through your unique self. That’s all. You can still be you, desire the traditional, and remain the perfect vessel for a message of peace.
Do yourself a favor and listen to your heart if this little love note speaks to you. Because really, do you want a giant angel pulling you out of bed? Save yourself the trauma. Go get ‘em, Tiger.