just another existential crisis…

Martha or Mary?

Martha or Mary?

Who am I?

What am I doing here? Should I be working here, or somewhere else – or not at all? Have I understood God correctly? Is this His will for me?

They’re questions asked by many. (Not just bloggers with writer’s block who are debating if they should have just stayed in bed this morning rather than get paid to stare blankly at a keyboard all day, and then proceed to write run-on sentences. But I digress.)

No, all thinking folks want to know what in the world they should be doing with their lives. Believers have the added obligation of considering what God wants for them. Is the way we are living pleasing to him – or is he calling us to something else?

Men and women considering the priesthood or religious life call this process “discernment.” It’s not as if the ordained simply wake up one morning and decide to make the leap. It might take months or perhaps years of praying over the possibilities, evaluating options, and considering their gifts and talents. And even then an act of faith is required – a decision must be made. God really isn’t in the habit of sending down lightning bolts or setting bushes on fire for our benefit.

Those of us who choose marriage should remember that such a life is a vocation, too. Few of us think about being “called” to married life – even though this is certainly the most common state in life. And once we’ve entered married life, and settled into its patterns, are we done asking God what he wants from us?

Hardly.

So where does that leave us? Just sitting here waiting on God to tell us what to do with our lives?

While we’re waiting for that message from above, we’ll need to make at least one choice on our own: will we do something or not? Will we move or sit still?

Many of us are “do-ers”, and we’ll be eager to get started even if we’re not sure where we’re headed. We’re Marthas, if you will, always eager to serve God by bustling around. We figure God will let us know what he wants from us in time, and if we keep busy while we’re waiting, we’ll have lots of options he can pick from. If we’re always moving, God can shove us in the right direction, right?

On the other side we have the contemplative types, the Marys. Marys tend to tackle discernment from another angle – a more spiritual one. They sit at the Lord’s feet rather than running back and forth to the kitchen. They know that he will provide the answers they need if they wait on him in a different sense.

Is one approach superior?

Truthfully, they go hand in hand.

If you’re wondering what God is calling you to do, you need to do both: work and pray. “Ora et labora” is a motto we could all live by. Search out information. Try lots of activities. Explore your options. But keep it all real with a healthy dose of contemplation and prayer.

We’re pretty excited here at the PIME HQ to announce that we have a new staff member on board who will be involved in vocations, outreach, and mission trip planning. Have a question about vocations with the PIME Missionaries? Email Giovanni at outreach@pimeusa.org.

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One thought on “just another existential crisis…

  1. Thank you for this article, pimeusa. Such questions plaque us every day, even those who are firmly set in their life choices. We may envy these people, but then again, maybe asking such questions is not a bad thing; if we are constantly asking ourselves if we are on the right path we are at least thinking of ways to choose the path we (and hopefully God) consider the best fit.

    I often struggle with keeping my jealousy in check when things go right for other people. Rather than thank God that someone else has found a wonderful opportunity, I find myself cursing God for not giving me such an opportunity. I think that many people, like myself, need to take a step back and admire the goodness that God has given us in our lives. Sure, they may not be perfect, but do we really want perfect lives? Sounds pretty boring. Maybe this is the path I need to be on right now, one filled with losses and suffering; maybe this actually does have a part in the grand scheme of things.

    And maybe all of this will force myself to take more chances and strive towards a better life for my family.

    CL

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