Someone told me that Allume can be a tough conference to attend. I'm still not 100% sure what they meant, but upon my return home in late October, I guessed that one reason was the feeling of, "Gee. My life sure is plain and simple."
I have not and do not have any plans to: turn my blog into a thriving business, start a non-profit in Africa, adopt, or go into ministry. Of course no one said, "That's what you need to do to make a difference in this world." In fact, they went to a lot of trouble to say, "Don't take these examples as instructions. You're awesome. What you're doing matters, too!!" But that's kind of like telling the kid who is picked last, "Don't take it to heart! Someone had to be last!!" You want to believe what they're saying, but . . . doubts linger.
So in November, I spent some time analyzing what I'm "doing" and what we're "doing" as a family to help others. I decided that guilt should not motivate us to take on more. Instead, a call to serve should motivate our actions. Feeling called is a lot different that feeling guilty. Feeling called happens when you ask God, "What should I do?" and an answer slowly appears. It may be something obvious. It may scare you. It may be weird. It may seem inconsequential. But it won't go away - that's the difference. Guilt can be heavy at first, but most of us can ultimately ignore it.
I have found that moulding my actions based on call rather than guilt involves more use of the phrase, "No," than I ever expected. No to doing everything good-intentioned people ask, so that I can say, "Yes," to the thing I feel God calling me to do. Not easy. Because, you know, guilt.
It's hard to know what your calling is - I get it, I know. It's not like I've ever heard a booming voice. It's not like I have this one thing I do and I say, "Yep, it's my calling."
It's more like . . . I'm trying to listen carefully for what God has in mind for me. When guilt comes along, "Oh gosh. We really should adopt a family for Christmas. And what about the tree lighting? My children really shouldn't miss that . . . " I'm trying to listen even more carefully.
Wait. Is this guilt? Hang on . . . let me check in with God: Are you telling me to adopt a family for Christmas or is this about how Susie Q saw me not take a name? Am I really concerned about my children's holiday experience, or am I getting caught up in the rush of this time of year?
When I stop and ask those questions, the answers become clear.
For me, the distinction between guilt and call is especially important now. When I ignore guilt and follow my call, it's like walking on a well lit path. I can look up and enjoy the season. Most importantly, I can also allow others to do so in the way that God is calling them. It's all good.
How do you distinguish between guilt and call?
P.S. Later this week I'll share a little thing I feel God has called me to do this month. It's been so fun and easy to plan, because guilt is not a factor!
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