“Some people have said, “But I’m afraid to surrender my career to God. I’m a musician—what if He wants me to be an accountant? My answer to that is, why would He? Wouldn’t He rather have someone who understands numbers do that job? If you’re talented at music, that talent is of God. If something makes your heart sing, that’s God’s way of telling you it’s a contribution He wants you to make. Sharing our gifts is what makes us happy. We’re most powerful, and God’s power is most apparent on the earth, when we’re happy.”
— Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love
THIS IS A QUOTE FROM “A RETURN TO LOVE” THAT RESONATES WITH ME. I used to think that “following my calling” or identifying God’s will for me (the 11th step in the 12-Step program) meant that I should change my life and do something heroic, follow a life of service and deprivation, maybe become a nurse in Afghanistan and save lives. And I would feel guilty about the life I did have, in a first world country with freedom and luxuries beyond the imagination of half the world’s population. It’s the sack-cloth and ashes mentality that Western religions love to bludgeon us with—that you have to suffer to prove you love God.
But I have learned that nothing could be further from the truth. We each have a different role to play, in different communities in different parts of the world. While there are many dedicated professionals who operate organizations such as Doctor Without Borders and administer medical care and compassion to the far-flung corners of the world, I am not destined to be one of them. I have been gifted with different skills and have to take a different path. And, though it may not seem as heroic, it is no more or less worthy than those who are guided to save lives in a literal sense. We all have a part to play in this vast jigsaw puzzle that is life and we need to have the confidence and self-knowledge to be able to say, “This is me, this is who I am,” and not fear being judged. It’s as valid to make art, play music, teach children, make clothing, fix plumbing, cook food, and give financial advice as it is to heal the sick and save lives—they are all valid expressions of who we are as individuals, each one of us playing a part in helping our communities function as a complete whole.
This means that every person who falls through the cracks, each person who doesn’t get enough support and attention, who “falls by the wayside” like the mustard seed in the parable in the Bible, is a loss to society in a larger sense, and therefore to each one of us. We teach each other and learn from each other, even the weak and the dishonest and the homeless—they play their part in teaching us about forgiveness and compassion and setting up the boundaries that enable us to operate a functional society.