In our Baptism we are sealed with the cross of Christ forever and given the most important vocation of our lives: child of God. As we grow, become educated, and gain life experience, we discover, thanks to the Holy Spirit, that we are destined for several, if not many, roles in life. We should think about these as a vocation as well. Perhaps we are called to be a spouse or partner, maybe a parent, an aunt or uncle, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, a confidant. This list could go on and on and on. The most important thing for us to remember is that no vocation is more important than the other.
When we are doing what God created us to do we are living into the fullness of life that God has created and planned for us. The same can be said for our vocations that provide a service for others beyond our families. Perhaps it is a societal “normal” job of Monday thru Friday, 8-5; maybe it is shift work. It may be working out of the home or in the home.
But what happens when one vocation seems to supersede another? What happens when what God has created you to be (mother, father, spouse, partner, sister, etc…) interferes, intersects, interrupts what you feel God has called you to be beyond your immediate relationships? What happens when we find ourselves in the “in between?”
This is a common, although not always voiced, struggle in which many in the church find themselves. We get those “heart tugs” of God calling us, beckoning us to serve God and people beyond our present lives. Yet, we get the tugs of family (however that may be defined by you) also tugging at our hearts. Perhaps it is the tug to become a parent again, or for the first time. Maybe it is the tug to become a spouse or partner. Or it may even be the tug to become a caretaker for an aging parent, grandparent, or older adult in one’s life. It is situations like these, when we try and balance our various calls to vocations by God, that we may find ourselves in the “in between.”
If we answer God’s call to whatever God has in store for us, we may feel we do so at the risk of damaging the relationships in which we now exist. For example, let’s say someone is offered a higher position at a company they love as well as a hefty pay raise. However, accepting this new position means hours on the weekend which equals time away from friends and family. Or perhaps a couple wants to add a child or children to their family. However, by doing this, one partner or the other would have to leave their profession. These conundrums may even lead to “wilderness” periods, those times when we may feel further away from God than usual; further away from God than we thought possible. There is no clear cut answer. There is no magic formula for how to navigate the “in between.”
In order to persevere through the “in-between,” you may want to do the following: 1) pray. This seems like an elementary suggestion, but even if your discernment and in between period has turned into a wilderness period, continue your prayer life. Even if you’re mad at God, it’s okay. Continue to talk and more importantly, continue to listen; 2) Engage the wisdom of others. This person could be a pastor, diaconal minister, a spiritual director, or dear trusted friend. While the correct decision will ultimately be stirred up by the Holy Spirit, it can help to have companions on the journey. These companions can pray for you too; 3) Dare to trust in God. Remember your Baptismal identity: Child of God. God will not leave you, abandon or forsake you. You are washed in the promises of God’s grace. We are justified by grace through faith. We are not justified through titles, positions, accolades, achievements, or salary. At the end of the day, only God’s grace can justify us. God’s grace, unlike everything else in our lives, will never fail us. Lastly, remember that the “in-between” doesn’t last forever. God will show you a way through the “in-between” and God will accompany you the entire time as you navigate your “in-betweens.”