I think most Christian women know what it’s like to wait for a call. It might be a vocational call you’re waiting for, which is kind of a one and done thing (which definitely does not diminish it’s significance or the challenges involved!) or, I think more often, or at least more regularly, we’re waiting for a call about what we’re supposed to do. “How is God calling me to spend my time?” you think. “Okay, I’m married now. Uh, so… Is there a part B to this vocation thing?” you wonder. “Okay, I’m a mom now – does this mean this is what I am supposed to do? And just this? Can I still do something else too? Is that wrong of me to ask?” you worry. “What the HECK God?? If you want me to do something SHOULDN’T YOU TELL ME WHAT IT IS??”you rage, “I am trying to SERVE YOU DARN IT!” Logical, right? If it’s His call for you, He shouldn’t be all vague and cagey about it like a stupid noncommittal boy (we’ve got enough of those down here, thank you). What gives? Why is it so hard to know God’s will for us sometimes? We look at women living these incredible lives of faith and ministry while inexplicably homeschooling 29 children and feel like maybe we can’t find God’s will for us because there just isn’t a role for us to fill at all. Did I say that out loud? Yikes. That can’t be right. Can it? No. It is absolutely wrong. It’s okay to think it at your low moments, I won’t stand in hypocrisy telling you not to, but by God in heaven NEVER let yourself believe it. It’s a lie. The deepest dark kind of lie. A lie that severs you from the joy and purpose God has for you, sinking you into a morass of false humility. Don’t go there. And if you feel yourself going there, get help. People will help you. The Spirit will use people to help you. Because I’d bet you’ve thought it at some point. I have. Sometimes I still do. And I do this for a living. You know why we think these things? Because in the face of God’s beautiful desires for your life, that’s pretty much all the evil one has to work with. If he can make you doubt that the call exists at all, maybe he can get you to stop looking for it. Maybe he can make you feel ashamed that you ever had the audacity to believe you had a role to play. Maybe he can get you to isolate yourself from the people actively building the church because you feel you will only get in the way, or that the pain of seeing your dreams lived out in other people’s lives will be too great. It’s crappy of him, really. But that’s kind of his MO. Learn to see his machinations and stamp that junk out ASAP. And sometimes often you won’t be able to do it your own. Tell someone that loves Christ what you’re feeling. Be honest. The devil hates that. All of that. Not sure who to tell? Then sister, get in this group. Tell us. We’ll shut that down real quick. So what makes it hard to know God’s will? Here are a few of the usual suspects.
Okay, so that's the bad stuff. But what can help you know God’s will? Here are a few great tools:
A weak sense of God’s voiceLet’s say you’re blindfolded and put in a room with 100 people. You’re told that people are going to yell out random things you have to identify when Susie yells. The issue is that you have absolutely no idea what Susie’s voice sounds like, or really even who “Susie” is. Maybe you’ve heard about her and just never got around to meeting her, maybe you’ve tried connecting once or twice and then you got busy with other things. Are you going to be able to pick out her voice? No! Of course not! That’s ludicrous! So why do you think you can pick out God’s voice if you don’t know Him well enough to identify it? Ouch. Reality check. For me too. The Holy Spirit is using my fingers on the keyboard right now giving me one of those best friend, kind of annoying but so obviously true mirror moments. Can I pick out God’s voice from a hundred? Can I tell my voice from God’s? If you’re not sure, TELL THE HOLY SPIRIT. Ask him to give you new ears, new hearing, a new sense of Him. Believe He will, but know it’s a process. It’s a relationship just like any human relationship. Be patient and believe.
EnvyOh, fellow women. We are good at envy. Envy is one of my absolute biggest struggles and I know many women that feel the same (although it’s obviously not exclusive to women, but darn if we didn’t write the book on it). I think a big part of our struggle with envy is that women are so inherently a reflection of the beauty of God and once again, the evil one is thinking that if He can just get us to envy the beauty instead of appreciating it, that’s his best bet. What a jerk, seriously. Because the beauty of other women, not just physical, but everything beautiful about strong and holy women? What a chance to glimpse God! What a chance to see how much God loves us. I am blessed to be a part of several groups of women that are just so phenomenal and so free of envy (not a hard and fast rule, but age does seem to help). Their worth comes from God. They are what I aspire to be and they are so disarming to me. So look for those women. Learn from them. Don’t know where to look? Daily mass at your parish is all but a sure thing. Women intentional about getting fed are primed and ready to feed others in most cases.
PrideThe mother of all sins. The big kahuna. And if you think you don’t struggle with it, that’s a decent clue that you probably do. But maybe you think that you are the only one who is without worth. You are the only one God has abandoned without a plan. You feel like you are worthless and that’s humility, right? Wrong. That’s pride. It’s thinking me, me, me. I’m the only one with this struggle. I’m so special to be dealing with this. See the subtle thread there? You are isolating yourself from God in claiming that He is isolated from you – and that’s pride. Quick way to test if you struggle with pride: try to pray the Litany of Humility. I’ll wait if you want to do it right now. Kind of really hard, right? I choke through it about once a month or less and then conveniently “forget” to do it more often. It was my original Lenten promise this year. #thatdidnthappen #Godofsecondchances Pride isolates us from God because it turns us in on ourselves. We begin thinking about ourselves more than anything else, but especially more than God. Humility is, in contrast, thinking of God and others first and primarily.
Okay, so that's the bad stuff. But what can help you know God’s will? Here are a few great tools:
PrayerIf you can’t tell God’s voice from all the others, talk to Him. Pray. Hear him in His word, the Bible. Hear Him in the Saints. Hear Him in the Pope. His voice is there to listen to, if we stop to do it.
The Godly people around youThe Holy Spirit seems to have 3 favorite people in my life and the feeling that I need to talk to any one of them almost always means He wants to have a chat with me. But there are so many other people that He uses in my life, and so often they are strangers. A women recently reached out to me on Facebook and literally changed my life. #truestory Want to let God into your Facebook experience too? We have an excellent Facebook group for you. All these people have been the direct conduit of the Holy Spirit in my life. When good and holy people repeatedly tell you you should do something, consider it. Remember it. It may be more than a passing observation.
GratitudeThe lively virtue that squashes the sin of envy. Pray for it. Practice it. When you feel that little bit of green creeping up into your vision, thank God for that woman/her talents/her call/ etc. (Shout out to one of my besties for sharing that tip with me!) Journal the things our thankful for each day or use my daily prayer guide to help you add gratitude into your prayers. every. day.
HumilityThe lively virtue that squashes the sin of pride. But real humility now ladies. None of that “I alone am worthless” junk. No. That’s not it. Humility is Mother Teresa. Humility is John Paul II. Humility is St. Dr. Gianna Beretta Molla – for real ladies. Clearly humility is not hiding in a closet hating yourself. It is putting yourself out there in trust of God because you think about God first. Saying here I am, little that I am, knowing you can do so little on your own, but believing that God can accomplish whatever He wishes through you if you are open. Pray for humility, and pray for discernment about what humility looks like in your life. But a personal observation: If it makes you feel truly free to serve God, it’s likely humility. If it makes you feel worthless, it’s most likely not.
In conclusion:I say all this not to point the finger and blame you for your own frustration, saying that if only you did A,B,C you would know God’s will. Not at all. Sometimes God keeps things a mystery for a good, long, frustrating time. Sometimes I think God allows us to undergo the test of perseverance in asking again and again so that we can grow to rely on Him more fully. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right yet. Sometimes we’re still being formed. All these things are simply things to let go (the obstacles) or nurture (things that can help) throughout our lives so that when God calls, we can hear Him. Whatever the case may be for you, you’re not alone. We’re in the trenches with you. And often even after it looks like the call has come the doubt does not abate(oh, hello, me there in the mirror). So we keep needing each other. We keep needing God. There may be 100 different calls to different things, big and small throughout our lifetime. If you are breathing, you’re not done. I know this is a big issue for a lot of women, so I have started a Facebook group called #JoyRebels: Women Searching for and Living Their Call in Christ. I would love to personally invite you to join us. I know our group would be richer for having you!