Is the Idea of Having a "Calling" Bullshit?


June 28, 2017

My sister has been an oncology nurse for over 35 years — 35 years of caring for people in the darkest hours of their lives, of holding their heads while they vomit, of gingerly bathing them because every cell of their skin hurts but they’re too weak to roll over much less bathe themselves, of putting poison into their veins to kill a piece of them in order for the whole to live, of helping them battle death and live only to come back years later to fight again…then lose. She has gone to funerals and weddings and graduations of patients and their families. She has done this for thirty five years and continues to. I can’t even begin to tell you about how many cards and gifts that patients and patients’ families have given her, how many times former patients have come back to give her a hug years after they went into remission. If ever there were a person who was called to be a nurse, my sister is that person, and I have said this hundreds of times while trying to describe her.

Most people go their whole lives and never feel like they have as fully maximized their talents as well as my sister has. Oddly enough, I don’t think she even feels that she has in a lot of ways. People take seminars and do workshops and read books, all in the name of finding their calling.
But what if that idea of a calling is nothing but a construct of pure bullshit?

When I think about my sister, I realize that while she has found a profession for which she seems to be made, she doesn’t just nurture and care and support people in her job. She does it every single day to all the people in her world, to the people of her community, the people she meets on the street, her friends, and her family. She buys clearance goods she finds and sticks them back to give to people she hears are in need. She cares for sick friends and animals. Her giving nature literally has no end. Her calling is not her career. Her calling is her life and how she lives it with every thought and breath. She would be living her calling no matter how she earned her living.

Since I have been pondering this idea, I have thought of dozens of other people who might not feel like they have found a calling in life or been able to live out what they believe their purpose on this planet to be. For each and every one of them, however, I would argue that they are wrong. While they search for that one thing that will make them feel fulfilled or that they believe they “should” be contributing to the world, I see them shining a light on the world that only they can — by just being themselves. Their best gift to humanity wouldn’t change regardless of where they went to work each day.

Our only calling is to be ourselves, as purely and authentically as we are able.

Sure, some places might allow us to highlight our talents in a way that others would not, but we are who we are, a unique gift to mankind — a blip in the timeline of creation that will occur but once. Perhaps we should quit looking for what we are called to do and simply fully be who we are.

Also, I know this story makes my sister sound too good to be true, but she isn’t. She is amazing, and I have two other siblings and three in-laws who are much the same. It’s pretty annoying, really, being surrounded by saints…