As You Move into Young Adulthood. . . .
As you launch into young adulthood, it may make you feel confused, even sad and lonely, mixed with a healthy dose of anxiety. Normal . . . but pay attention to those feelings, as they are indicators of a life change.
Congratulations! You’ve finished high school and now it’s time to launch into young adulthood. What does God have in mind for you? How can you make the most of these years? What’s next for your life? You are probably tired of these sorts of questions.
Perhaps you are discovering that the new found freedom of not having to go to high school is tainted by all these serious life questions. High school was relatively easy. You could float along day by day and it all brought you to the graduation stage.
But now, you are faced with the challenges and responsibilities of young adulthood. Further, you want to know how God will play a part in your launch. In effect you want to know, “What is my call? What is my vocation . . . at least for this next stage of my life?”
In his article, What Should I Do After High School Greg Forster gives three key questions for the person trying to discern her/his vocation.
In short: What am I good at? Who needs me? What do I sincerely want to do?
These are the questions to keep in mind and heart as you engage in this reflection. As God’s call for you emerges, place your trust in God, say ‘yes’ as best you can, and give it your all.
As You Move in Married Life. . . .
Love is the fundamental calling for all persons. In the authentic love of spouses, we find, perhaps, the best human expression of God’s unfailing and unconditional love for the world
As you embrace the call to married life, you may wonder what you may be losing, or giving up, when committing to this one person, and this one particular lifestyle. You may feel as though you are losing your freedom, and that may cause some confusion, anxiety, and doubt. It’s all normal. But pay attention to those feelings. They are indicators of a life change that you (and your beloved) must now navigate.
Let’s consider the third bullet point: benefit others besides yourself. You have surely learned by now that marriage requires considerable giving, self-sacrifice, and a whole lot of kindness and consideration of your beloved. You are called to be with and for the other. Indeed, your happiness lies in giving of your whole self to your beloved. The vocation of marriage also calls the two of you beyond yourselves for the sake of others.
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace the call. We seek to develop fruitful patterns of behavior and action that bring fulfillment.
Marriage is a vocation to holiness. From your first days as husband and wife through your golden years, you have the awesome task of witnessing to God’s faithful love to each other, your children, and society. No couple does this perfectly, and everyone needs help when love feels strained and the going gets tough. All marriages can grow in knowledge, faith, joy, and love.
As You Become a Parent. . . .
Responding to the call of parenting may not be your first response to God’s call, but it is surely one of the most meaningful and powerful. You brought home this amazing, beautiful, bundle of joy, and this child is entrusted to your nurture and care and eventual upbringing. Truly an awesome privilege that may fill you with joy, wonderment, and humility. And truly an awesome responsibility that may fill you with anxiety, fear, and hesitancy.
Hopefully, this new vocation will bring your great joy, but as you embrace it, there is no question that it will drive you to seek deeper meaning from it. Allow the big questions to ruminate in your heart and mind:
Congratulations! You are called to be a parent. You likely have some anxiety, and a whole lot of wonderment for how this is going to go. One thing is certain. As you respond to this call, you will discover an aspect of God that you have not seen or experienced before. Place your trust in God, say ‘yes’ to the call as best you can, and give it your all.
Let’s focus on the second bullet point: not easy. The call to parenting is not an easy call. The relational dynamics are intense, vulnerable, and meaningful. Every family struggles with the tension caused by competing demands, especially when those demands seem to put family and work in opposing corners. Even those families with only one working parent struggles to learn the "balancing act." Do the best you can to slow down, focus on what really matters–each other, and make decisions and choices based on the best interests of your new family.
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace the call as parents. We seek to develop fruitful patterns of behavior and action that bring fulfillment and grace to parents, children, and the family as a whole.
As You Become a Grandparent. . . .
Responding to the call of grandparenting is likely not your first response to God’s call, yet it is no less important, both for you and your grandchild. You had little or no choice about becoming a grandparent, but now that the role has been thrust upon you, how will you respond? Hopefully, it will bring you great joy that you can turn around and share with your grandchild. But as you reflect on this new role and new title, it’s quite logical to seek deeper meaning from it. It’s also normal to have some questions.
Congratulations! You are called to be a grandparent. You likely have a bit of anxiety, and a whole lot of wonderment for how this is going to go. One thing is certain. As you respond to this call, you will discover an aspect of God that you have not seen or experienced before. Place your trust in God, say ‘yes’ to the call as best you can, and give it your all.
Let’s focus on the third bullet point: benefit others besides yourself. Grandparenting is a call to a role of love, encouragement, wisdom-sharing. And for some, it’s also a call to primary care and ultimate responsibility. You can learn to improve what you do naturally—love your grandchild. Responding to this call may be difficult: they are busy, you are busy, technology invades, family may be disjointed, etc. Amidst the challenge of frenetic chaos, time together is what counts. With grandchildren, you can take time to be tender. It’s a promise all grandparents can make: never a goodbye without a word of love.
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace the call as grandparent. We seek to develop fruitful patterns of behavior that bring fulfillment and grace to grandparent and grandchild.
As You Move into the Empty Nest Years. . . .
You have spent the last two or three decades fully immersed in your calling as an active parent. You’ve navigated every stage of parenthood from infancy to launch. And now, while you will always be a mom or dad, the days of activeparenting have come to an end, and your nest, as they say, is empty. What now?
Hopefully, this is a moment of triumph and pride for you. It may also be one of the most difficult transitions in your life.
Of course, you want your children to be independent, but you also want your family to remain close. Of course, you want some time and space and freedom for yourself, but you may feel guilty claiming it. Perhaps you have anticipated this day for a long time, eagerly awaiting its arrival and the perks it brings. And yet, now that it has come, perhaps you are not quite sure how to embrace it.
What’s your calling as an empty nester? How will you adjust personally? How will your relationship shift with your spouse or partner? How will your relationship shift with your children? These are just a few of the myriad questions that warrant dedicated prayer and reflection. God has an idea for you as an empty nester, no doubt.
At certain times in your life you may have carried the assumption that God calls you once, for just one purpose. Don’t miss the call, or you might spend the remainder of your days in meaningless mediocrity. In reality, it is safe to say that God calls us many times throughout the seasons of our lives, and each call challenges us to stretch further than we might have anticipated or imagined.
This is one of those times. Embrace all the emotions, from heartache to elation, from anticipation to trepidation, for God is present in all of these, and ready to show you what’s next.
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace the call. We seek to develop fruitful patterns of behavior and action that bring fulfillment and grace to you and your empty nest.
As You Move into the Retirement Years. . . .
Retirement is a reminder that God keeps on calling, regardless of age or stage in life. As you anticipate this change and reflect on it, it’s important to seek deeper meaning from it. While God is always active in your life, moments of life-change provide a window into that activity. But you have to look for it. Consider these questions:
You are called to a new stage in your life. You likely have a bit of anxiety, and a whole lot of wonderment for how this is going to go. One thing is certain. As you respond to this call, you will discover an aspect of God that you have not seen or experienced before. Place your trust in God, say ‘yes’ to the call as best you can, and give it your all.
Now we seek to turn the corner and fully embrace God’s call for us at this time in our lives. That call is unique to each one of us, but there is a universal desire to leave a mark on the world, however faint, a legacy that shows others we seek to live God’s ideas for us.
The C3 Project is a service of Vibrant Faith funded through a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Called to Lives of Purpose Initiative with the purpose of assisting congregations in developing and testing new ministry models for helping Christians discover and claim their callings.
Vibrant Faith: https://vibrantfaith.org