Sometimes we sugarcoat the reality of vocation. We want all the deep joy and the passion with none of the sacrifice. In reality, the vocation we are called to is the role that’s most apt to refine us, to shape us into to the being God envisions us to be. This means our joy and our fulfillment are both tied to sacrifice.
Still, waiting for something joyous can be painful. Imagine (or remember) the loneliness and anxiety of years spent single, waiting for someone with whom to share your life. Think of the struggle of infertility, waiting for God to turn a couple into a family, arms aching to hold your little one. Or, as new parent waiting simply to sleep again, pushing past exhaustion to find one more ounce of patience.
God was offering me a glimpse of what he feels for us when we turn away from him in moments of fear, of shame, of self-loathing. The isolation of sin is self imposed. If only we would turn to God, we would see the face of love. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for us to come to home. Our capacity to receive his mercy is contingent only on our own willingness to turn and embrace it.
For years, I’ve had this voice in my head telling me how I “should” pray. A spirituality professor of mine used to call this “shoulding all over yourself.” I’ve been telling myself I’m an imposter because I don’t pray enough, that I am no good as follower of Christ because I spend no time with him. This was a lie, and it wasn’t.