What is a “Calling?”

–A lot of what I am going to write about here has to do with what I wrote about in the blog post I Remember.

I’m writing a paper about spiritual discernment in decision-making. The article I’m reading, Discerning spiritual discernment: Assessing current approaches for understanding God’s will, by Dennis Horton, lists 3 different types of spiritual discernment, such as the “bull’s-eye” approach, the “wisdom” approach, and the “relationship-formation” approach. I realized through studying these approaches that my whole life I grew up under the teachings of this “bull’s-eye” approach, which is basically that every single person has a specific calling on their life and that your goal is to find out whatever that is and then fulfill it.

I finally feel like I can say that my dad was wrong for abandoning my family when we needed him. It wasn’t until a couple months ago that I finally accepted that what my dad did was abandonment. I always told myself that abandonment was something different and people have it so much worse off than I do, so I shouldn’t get to use that term. 

My mom tried to take her own life. She also discovered she had Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously called Multiple Personality Disorder). Conveniently, this is when my dad was called to evangelism.

I’m not trying to say that my father is a horrible person who had the intention of abandoning us.

However, I do believe, that due to this “bull’s-eye” mindset, he was given a way out. After all, if you’re called to do something, you have to do it or you’re sinning and turning your back on God, and when bad things happen to you and your family, or when your kids are begging you to stay home, it’s just “Satan attacking the ministry.” 

(My dad is gone at least 200 days out of the year. At least).

As a child, I felt guilty for ever questioning why God would call my dad to evangelism and take him away from me. I would just tell myself that it must be the right thing and to just deal with it. We all have to sacrifice something. 

I didn’t realize until I was writing this paper just how much pressure this mindset puts on a person. Once you think you’ve figured out this perfect plan, you have to live it out and if you later on feel like maybe you were wrong, you’re stuck. Because obviously God wouldn’t ever call anyone to a different ministry or occupation, right?…

As I’ve mentioned in my post Fate with a Twist I used to believe that “all things happen for a reason,” but I no longer do. I guess this is why. I do not believe that there is ever this one single path that every person has to walk on and that every.single.thing. that happens to us is predetermined. But it makes sense that I used to believe this, coming from the “bull’s-eye” perspective.

This paper has finally allowed me to feel guilt-free for not believing that my father made the right decision. God doesn’t call a person to abandon their family in their time of need. I was 7 when my father chose this lifestyle. My brother was 10. Our lives were flipped upside down. We left our family, church, school, friends-our entire world behind us. Not only did we lose almost all of the people who gave us stability, our mom was now a seemingly completely different person and in so much mental pain. This was my second life. 

And this is where I’m to believe that God said, “hmm…I think this would be an appropriate time to call him to evangelism and ask him to leave his family for weeks at a time. They’ll be just fine without him. It’ll be great, really!”

So then dad’s off shining God’s love and light to the world, giving all these churches his big smile and laugh and playing music for them, when that’s what I needed. This little 7-year-old girl needed to see her dad’s smile and hear her dad’s laugh. She needed to hear his songs. She needed someone to be her rock in this world that was crashing beneath her.

I do believe that God gives us all unique talents and abilities. I also believe that God gives us opportunities and choices. But I do not believe that He has this detailed plan that you have to figure out and you have to fulfill it no matter what.

No. I do not believe that my father was called to do this. And I no longer feel guilty for saying that. 


5 thoughts on “What is a “Calling?”

  1. Can you hear me clapping for you right now? Bravo, dear, bravo! The amount of courage I know it took for you to write/say that is phenomenal. I love you, your brother, and your mother very much. It was a painful time and I’m sorry you all had to go through it. I’m proud of you for finding your voice.

    Liked by 1 person

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