I was asked recently, “What’s your dream?” And for the first time in my life, I was dumbfounded. From the age of 12, I’ve always known how to answer that question. To be an anchorwoman! A journalist! An editor-in-chief! An ARTISTA! (This latter one was crushed early on.)
But also fairly recently, I was offered a shot of realizing my biggest dream and I—yes, also to my surprise—turned it down. The short of it, I realized that fulfilling this dream won’t give me the contentment I yearned for. And that’s when I realized something about dreams—they are not sources of true joy.
Chances are, you are NOT like me. You may not know what you want now, but you know what you want to be. You’ve identified THE DREAM! To be a CEO. A lawyer. An actor. A world-class athlete. If you’re hot on pursuit of your Big Dream, I’m not telling you not to go for it—by all means do—but also know that your life here does not end with just a dream, with what you imagine and desire for yourself. Take it from someone who had her dreams realized early on—dreams are not all they are chalked up to be. If you, like me, are hungry for that sense of genuine, I-feel-it-in-my-bones fulfillment, for joy that doesn’t cease even as your circumstances change, you can’t stop with chasing your dream—you’ve got to pursue your calling.
The difference? A dream asks, What do I want to be? Or, What do I want for myself? But a calling, by nature, is connected to something or someone who calls. It is not just about you. A calling asks, What does the world need me to be? Or, what has God called me to do? A dream satisfies one soul—yours—but a calling fulfills a whole—you and the others around you.
To the question, So how do I find my calling?, I don’t have a clear-cut answer. However (though 25 years of existence doesn’t count as much experience, so perhaps take the next statement with a grain of salt), I’ve also realized that while you may have one big, overarching calling, this calling takes form in different roles throughout many seasons of your life.
Simply put, what you are doing now may not be what you will do forever, but, if you constantly frame your life in pursuit of a calling—or, better yet, if you stay open to the idea that wherever you are now is already a part of what you are called to do—this will slowly, eventually help you get to where you are supposed to be and become who you were created to be, and appreciate the process of progressing and becoming while you’re at it.
What helps me? A lot of praying. A lot of Bible reading. A lot of crying and failing. And a lot of doing whatever I’m currently doing to the best of my ability, because pursuing your calling always requires the pursuit of excellence, too.
So don’t stop at chasing and catching dreams. The life you’ve been given has much more potential than that. Why feed one soul when you can go for the whole?