Last week I had a meltdown. It wasn’t the type of meltdown that comes from too much stress or difficulties in life, but rather a meltdown of gratitude. I know that sounds odd and maybe even foreign to some of you but let me explain.
Last Tuesday night, I was on my way home after an amazing seminary class filled with all kinds of discussion. As I left, I found myself feeling extremely emotional and grateful for so many things in my life. I am normally an overly thankful person who appreciates even the smallest things, but this was different. As I thought about the path I have been on the last year or so, I couldn’t help but see how God has continued to work in even the smallest things in my life. I was speaking with a friend of mine and told her, “I wish people could step into my soul for even a moment so they could have some kind of concept of how deeply my gratitude runs for them and how much I love them. “
There are things I believe I have been called to do in this life. I have felt this way as long as I can remember, but there have been a few times here and there along the way when I believe God has made it abundantly clear what I needed to be doing. Interestingly, the “calling” or purpose for my life has never changed. It may have been manifested in different ways, but the underlying purpose has always been the same. I have not always followed that calling, but I have also never been able to escape it. When God reveals your true purpose to you, no matter what age that occurs, you are never the same. You either live in fulfillment of your calling or you fight it. Sometimes that decision changes from year to year, day to day, or even moment to moment. The one thing you can no longer claim is ignorance.
As I reflected on my own calling and purpose last week, I was overwhelmed by a deep acceptance of what I know in my heart. Then I was flooded with a sense of gratitude for situations and people who have helped me over the past few years more than they will ever be able to understand. Most of these people have no clue what part they have played in the continual “gelling” of my purpose. They have no concept of how God has used them to help guide the trajectory of my life. I could write volumes on each one specifically but it would still only express a tiny fraction of what I feel in my heart for them. Even in my professional life, God has used countless situations, and some very special people, to bring me to deeper realizations about myself and life in general. I am blessed to be part of a company I believe in, owned by a man I deeply respect. God used him to bring me to a place where I could grow not only professionally, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I am not the most normal person on the planet, but he and many others in the office allow me to be true to the things I believe in most. The freedom I have found in my work environment has given me the ability to follow where I am led both inside and outside the office. It has strengthened my spirit beyond comprehension. It has not only helped make me a much stronger and authentic individual, it has made me a more passionate and committed person of faith. How many people can say that about their work environment, owner, boss or coworkers? It is overwhelming.
My point is that we ALL have a purpose to fulfill. We may try to ignore it or even fight it when it comes up but we can’t escape it. Sometimes our calling is to something that seems entirely different than the job or circumstances in which we find ourselves. That’s when we need to step back for a moment and consider that maybe we are exactly where we are supposed to be…for now. Maybe God has us in places where our purpose is going to be fulfilled through unexpected means. Maybe we feel called to ministry but find ourselves in secular professions. Does that mean we have strayed from our true path? Of course not! Yes, sometimes we hide in our professions to try and avoid the fear of stepping out into the truth of who we are, but we must not forget that where we are is much less important than WHAT we are! If you are called to love, then love! It doesn’t matter if you work for a church or the government. If you are called to teach, then teach! It may be in the school system or within your own home. If you are called to sing, then sing! Do it in your car or the shower if nowhere else. If you are called to minister, then minister! You don’t have to be in a pulpit to share the truth of God’s love, grace and mercy with others.
If you are truly called to do something, you will do it no matter what…even if no one applauds you or appreciates it. You will do it no matter what it costs you in time, energy or finances. You will do it because you cannot keep from doing it! You will do it with humility. You will do it with grace. You will do it with compassion. You will not demand the spotlight and you will not be angry with those who aren’t impressed with your passion. You will simply live as you are called and let God take care of the rest. It is my job to follow the truth of my calling and it is God’s job to take care of the results…even when it doesn’t seem like anyone notices. When I live with that perspective, I live in a very different kind of peace.
I am so grateful for what this past year has brought and all the people in my life who have affected my path. When I truly consider it all, I am overtaken with emotion and fall to my knees in earnest prayer for them all. None of us can know what tomorrow holds, but we can decide to live today paying attention to just how blessed we really are.
And if that realization takes your breath away and you cannot stop the flow of tears…then let them come. Maybe a “meltdown of gratitude” is exactly what you need to be able to see clearly again.