nouwen on broader vocation

I'm reading a Nouwen book on discernment and what the process looks like. It's rich stuff, but this is no surprise.

Lately I have felt inexplicably overwhelmed. Certainly being overly tired, having a toddler at home 24/7, and running a little low on funds has something to do with it. But it's felt almost like there's some sort of block against me being able to get as much done as I'd like. It's been frustrating to feel so easily incapacitated. Mama needs a nap.

It's felt a little tough lately. I didn't work for most of June because of some health concerns, and July has been very low-paying as a result. Things will pick back up in August, but if I'm not able to find a way to get more sleep, I will just be burning the candle at both ends. We're in the throes of potty training and it is not going "well" if "well" is defined as "learned quickly," so I spend a LOT more time cleaning than I would prefer (but the alternative of going back to diapers makes the trade-off worth it, in my opinion). Tell any single mama who is at home all day with a toddler that she "shouldn't be this stressed" and just see if she doesn't go ballistic on you; that said, on paper there doesn't seem to be much of a good reason for me to feel as close to the edge as I do. The question "how could this possibly be the right thing to be doing?" keeps me up at night. Something isn't working right.

Turns out, it was me all along.

The other day, surrounded by three dogs and one naked toddler, I snatched a few minutes to lie on the couch and read a couple of pages in the Nouwen book. And what I found was exactly what I needed to hear:

What I learned from testing a call in Latin America is that my broader vocation is simply to enjoy God's presence, do God's will, and be grateful wherever I am. The question of where to live and what to do is really insignificant compared to the question of how to keep the eyes of my heart focused on the Lord. I can be teaching at Yale, working in the bakery at the Genesee Abbey, walking with poor children in Peru, or writing a book, and still feel totally useless. Or I can do these same things and know that I am fulfilling my call. There is no such thing as the right place or the right job. I can be miserable or joyful, restless or at peace, in all situations. 

I've been getting too caught up in the notion of "the right place" or "the right thing to do" and measuring myself according to some standard that not only is not realistic, but is entirely self-directed. I've got to cut myself some slack and be realistic about my situation -- the good, the bad, and the temporary. I've also got to start getting to bed at a decent hour. And it's time to get back into morning prayer for sure.

I'm no less tired than I was, but I feel more calmed. The panic and perpetual frustration are starting to subside as my heart gets refocused. Yes, with God's help, I can do this.

Let this be a reminder. Kyrie eleison.

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