After my mother died, I kept running into people who wanted to tell me how she changed their life. My mother was a teacher who had a gift for using words to inform, encourage and heal others. She taught in the public schools, in Sunday school and bible studies. She even taught family to drive when they came to the United States. After her first child was born she stopped working, but she continued to teach: It was her calling.
I have asked God loudly and often over the past year why He didn’t take my mother with her first stroke. Why did He let her linger, paralyzed, for 9 more months? And why did He take her words, her ability to speak and teach?
I will probably never know how many people my mother continued to teach without words. Her courage and determination, in spite of garbled speech and paralysis, even as her heart was breaking, inspired and encouraged others. She still smiled, still prayed, still loved.
God is never closer to us than when we hear his voice and answer as Samuel did, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). Even if the call is not what we expected or wanted, saying “yes” starts us down the path of an innate knowing and deep peace; a certainty that it will – at some point – make sense, regardless of the outcome.
We don’t have to do this alone. Someone once told me, “If it’s your cross (calling), there will be someone to carry it with you.” She was referring to when Jesus fell down under the weight of His cross and Simon came to help him carry it. (Matt 27:32)
As I look back over my own journey, I am reminded of what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Campbell believed if we took even one step towards God, that God would take ten steps toward us. Our will, our way, when surrendered to whatever may come, allows God to propel us forward. This Hero’s journey also requires self-reflection and looking inward, an inner undoing, as opposed to the outer doing of the hero. A letting go, so that we can learn to let “Providence” come to us.
It is said that we will all experience this crisis of spirit at some point in our lives. Is it the Hero’s Journey? I don’t know, maybe. The only thing I am sure of today is that my heart is open and willing, and that God did call me, not to be a Hero, but a servant.
Perhaps in serving and answering the call on our life that is exactly what we do become: Heroes.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 NLT)