Navigating the Wilderness: On Orientation
I’ve spent the last year in a weird place, career-wise. I’ve been unemployed. Underemployed. Employed in amazing-hard work. I’ve been in physical work. In emotional work. In some really crappy work. In work I never expected to be in but am delighted by work. One thing is certain; the plan I had carefully crafted in my brain when I stepped back from working at a church did not come to fruition. This was painful—for my ego and my vocation. It muddied my understanding of my faith and and amped up my anxiety about doing things right (whatever that means). It invited in my old friend, imposter syndrome. I spent many, many months this past year feeling adrift, feeling stuck in the wilderness.
What I am finding, as I begin to be able to take a step back, as I continue to sift out the blessings from the baggage, is that my sense of vocation is not my career. My vocation is an orientation. If I am oriented in the right direction, if I am following what I understand my faith asks of me, then I am heading where I need to go. Or, at least, heading the the right-ish direction. Which is probably as good as I’m ever going to get.
In the wilderness, I was confusing location with orientation. I believed that my call had to play out in limited (and, for me, limiting) ways. I wanted to check the boxes that confirmed that my ordination was real. When I felt my faith orienting me in other, sometimes unclear or undefined ways, I felt vocational panic set in. I don’t know if I’m out of the wilderness, exactly. But I do feel back in alignment, returning to my soul’s orientation, my true north, and I am trusting that this will lead me where I need to go.
What orients you? What are the guideposts that direct your life? What helps you make decisions about work and play and hope and justice and love?