Friday, December 16, 2011

The Calling

I believe everyone has a “calling,” something that completes their life, a mission, a joy, a place where they fit. It doesn’t have to have a religious connotation, although for some the calling is to the ministry. It isn’t just about a job, or a vocation, or a career, even an avocation — although it is a happy life when one’s calling is one’s vocation.

It is sort of the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always felt lucky that I knew the answer to that question at such an early age. Some keep asking it well into middle life — and that may be the cause of the infamous “mid-life crisis.” Some figure it out half way through a career, and the brave amongst those will change their life in accordance. (I think of a long ago friend, J.D. Thorne, and the story he told me about his father.)

I suppose there can be more than one calling in life. I also assume people can be very happy with a life-long job and pursue their calling more as a hobby or a sideline or even what they do upon retirement. But I really think it is a single, primary, focused thing in most people’s lives, and the happiest people are those that have heard their “calling” and responded.

At a very early age I knew I wanted to be a scientist. I changed minds over the years on just what kind of scientist going from astronomer to geologist to electronics engineer, and I have echoed that behavior throughout my career going from technician to engineer to scientist to programmer to tester to statistician. But I don’t think that is really my calling. As I explore my path in life I think my calling is to be a teacher.

I worked in that field in a formal manner during different parts of my career teaching in the Navy, at Electronics Technical Institute, and at Metropolitan State College. I spent 14 years as an instructor in IBM’s Technical Education organization. But, in addition to that, I’ve taught as a side-line, a “second job,” a hobby, and just a way to spend time. Now that I’ve retired, I even consider my writing as “teaching.” I think of all the other things I’ve learned and done were just information and experiences for me to share with others — to teach.

I have many priorities and hold many truths to be self-evident. I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. I believe in a Creator and that there is a plan for this world and my life. I believe in family and think that is the most important thing in life. To some, their calling is undoubtedly their family. I think this is especially true of mothers, and that is what makes them so special.

I think of a dear friend in New Orleans who has followed his calling in music, but also in his desire to care for others less fortunate. He shares my strong belief in our Savior. I think of my brother-in-law, also strong in the faith, who has raised a fine family of loving children with the help and support of his wife. Those children are a blessing to one another and all those that know them.

I think about my father whose love for his wife was epic in its width and depth — reminds me of lyrics to a song — and music is his love too. I think of my dear wife whose love of others drives her every day to give and care for others, even at the expense of herself.

I won’t go on listing the people in my life since it would be too long and I would forget someone.

Think about your life. Think about your family. Think about the path your life has taken. This is a time of year for all to recollect and recount their blessings, even those that don’t worship the Savior we celebrate. It is a natural and human and, I believe, God given thing to do at this time of year. God bless you all, and may your calling be clear and your path be straight. Some wander and some find their way. May you find your way and “God bless us all.” — Tiny Tim.

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