Becoming Who I Am

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.” ~Parker Palmer

I was three months into my new stay-at-home-mom life. I had spent years holding onto a lawyer job that didn’t fit. I held onto it much longer than I probably should have, but I really wanted to know what was going to come next before I quit. I wanted to have a plan.

I had recently started asking God questions. My main question was: What have you made me for? I thought I needed an answer before I could take the next step. Instead, my time to quit came without the answers I wanted. This was hard—especially for my pride and addiction to accomplishments.

At that time, my daughter was still young enough to ride in the stroller. One day, we were walking her brothers home from school. They ran ahead of us up the path toward home. Sunlight danced, golden and warm, through my girl’s hair as her head swayed gently. Mesmerized, my heart swelled with the beauty of that simple moment.

The word “vocation” dropped—illuminated—straight into my heart. I collect words sometimes. Maybe they come from God, maybe they just come from somewhere deep inside of me. But they arrive like clues to the next step. I’m learning to trust them.

“What if this is it?” I wondered. In spite of the beauty in that moment, I wasn’t convinced. I thought God had bigger plans for me. At least, I had bigger plans for me—if only I could figure out what those plans were.

At first, I wondered if this moment meant that my vocation was my children. I wondered if I was supposed to pour myself into being the best mom I could be. In the few years since that “vocation moment,” I haven’t been spectacular at mothering. Ten years into this mom business, and I am sometimes stunned at how amateur I feel at it.

I think I’m still learning what that illuminated moment was about.

I used to think my vocation was to do something spectacular and big, something that would save the world, or at least my corner of it. I was looking for signs: test scores and scholarships. I was waiting for other people to tell me: “This is what you were meant to do.” “This is who you are.” The signs and scholarships led to a law career that seemed to shrivel my soul. No one spoke into my heart telling me what job I was actually made for. Worse, nothing quite met the expectations I had set up for myself. What I was doing was never enough, in my mind. I was never enough. I always felt like I belonged somewhere else.

Even when I made the choice to stay home with my kids, it was with the intention to figure out what was coming afterward. What will I be doing when they go to school?

I used to think vocation was something you are paid to do. A job or career that was made just for you.

That illuminated moment? I don’t think it was a call to motherhood. It was an invitation to sink into and embrace my life. Right here. This includes the holy work of snuggling little people, helping with homework, and making meals. I keep finding God in this ordinary life of mine. Here. Where I am.

I am invited to stop looking toward the horizon and start paying attention to what is in front of me.

I am invited to discover who I am. What makes me come alive, deep-down alive? Like rich soul-to-soul conversation, experiencing beauty in nature or music, creating, poetry, or sinking into silence. These are the things I was made to do.

I am invited to belong in my feet—embracing who I am and where I am.

I am invited to pay attention—to live with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart.

I am invited to put my pen to paper and keep it moving. To share words that want to be shared.

I am invited to move past the layers of expectations, disappointments, accomplishments, appearances, and relationships that defined me.

I am invited to come home to myself, into the core of who I am—a home God dwells in. Beloved, as is. This is my soul waking and growing to encompass all of me—connecting each facet of my life to my Source—the Presence of my Creator—connecting me to others and to our world.

This invitation is my vocation: to become who I am.

Jessica L. Sanborn
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