Now let’s examine what we call windows for calling conversations. We are exploring eight of them in this training program, but the windows that can open for calling conversations are countless. These windows both frame the content of a person’s calling experience and provide an opening for you when a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or even a stranger says something or does something that indicates to you that they are experiencing a calling from God.
Recognizing these windows as opportunities for calling conversations is a key part of how you can become an instrument of calling for other people in your life. Here is the list of the eight windows for calling conversations that we will explore:
Building Loving Relationships
As You Are Today
Finding Meaning in Work
Moving through Life Transitions
Caring for a Person in Need
Sacrificing for Others
Serving the World
We invite you to watch each short video, one per window, and then read the description of the calling window below the video and respond to the reflection questions. This reflective activity will heighten your awareness of the multiple ways that God calls, and how God’s calling accomplishes good work in the world through the process of expressing and meeting needs. You will also notice that at the end of each video segment and at the end of each written description of the calling windows, we offer a thought about what the calling tells us about who God is. Pay attention to how your own understanding of God’s identity grows as you encounter God in diverse ways by looking through the various calling windows.
Window 1. Relationships
Nothing matters more than the experiences of loving and being loved. God’s identity is love, and love is the most powerful calling we experience. Spouses, parents, children, extended family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers call us to loving responses daily. Hearing and responding to this endless call to deepen our relationships is a key to spiritual maturity and deep joy. People aren’t perfect at loving, so we sometimes say and do things that damage our relationships. Life can seem dismal when our key relationships are off balance. And when we find that our relationships are suffering, we are called to forgive and accept forgiveness to heal relationships and get back in touch with love. God the connector calls us in the experience of love and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine connection in human love.
Name two or three people with whom you experience a loving relationship. Think of these others as instruments of calling for you.
What have you learned about God through these relationships?
How does God call you through these relationships?
What is the connection between the experience of human love and God’s identity?
Window 2. As You Are Today
God calls in the present moment of our lives no matter who we are or how things are going for us. Every person has both natural and learned talents. These are gifts that God gives to us through our families and our life experiences. You have these gifts right now! It can be uncomfortable to name and celebrate our gifts because we feel that may be self-centered, but if we recall that the gifts come from God, from our families, from our teachers, and from anyone who influences us in a positive way, we can experience our gifts with gratitude and give honor to God and others who planted the gifts in us. This is a true expression of self-love as opposed to shallow self-centeredness.
When we are out of touch with who we are and who we are called to be, we can feel stuck. Life seems to be going nowhere or in circles. We wonder why we were put on this earth or wonder what our contribution is to humanity. Our God-given gifts can help us become aware of our values and our sense of purpose. Our gifts are a key part of our identity, and the more we know about who we are, the more clearly we can hear the callings. God the gift-giver calls us in our core identity and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine creativity in the pursuit of meaning and purpose.
Think broadly about your gifts, not just what you can do, but also who you are. Gifts include things like patience, perseverance, creativity, strong learner, good listener, faithful friend, lover of nature, worker for justice, good at organizing, etc. What are your gifts?
How do you live your callings as expressions of your gifts?
How has clarifying your gifts and your values helped you get “unstuck” in your life?
What is the connection between your discernment of your life’s purpose and God’s generosity?
Window 3. Work
Sometimes work can seem meaningless and that it only has value because of the paycheck we get for doing the work. Many people suffer through their workdays just to get to the weekend or the next vacation. There is a phrase that young adults use these days… “the Sunday scaries!” It refers to the feeling of dread as the weekend is coming to an end and the unfulfilling workweek is about to begin. Not feeling the Sunday scaries is a sign that one has found meaningful work. While it is true that some work is demeaning, and many people work in terribly unjust systems that call us to work for change, many workers can find meaning simply by changing their point of view and discerning how they are being called at work. There are ways to hear God’s call in the work that we do, in the lives of our co-workers, in the goods and services we deliver, and in the lives of those who are touched by what we produce. God the creator calls us to shift our perspective to gratitude, collaboration, and service and God opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine creativity in daily work.
How is your work a calling?
What are the various ways God calls you at work?
How is seeing your work as a calling a way to experience your work as more meaningful?
What is the connection between human work and divine creativity?
Window 4. Life Transitions
Family life is filled with transitions that members go through individually, but due to the strong connections between family members, every individual transition is also a whole family transition. As people move through transitions there is both a personal and a family call to let go of what is passing and to accept and celebrate the new growth that is possible. God is calling us in transitions to let some things die as other things are coming to life. God calls us from something old to something new. Here are nine ways that families experience transitions:
From Single to Married
From Married to Divorced
From Couple without Children to Parenting
From Couple without Grandchildren to Grandparenting
From Pre-Schooler to School-Aged
From Elementary School to Secondary School
From High School to College
From School to Career/From Career to New Career
From Career to Retirement
God who resurrects calls us to move through transitions with hope and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine transformation in life-stage changes.
Identify one of your life transitions in which you experienced a particularly powerful call from God.
What were you called to let go of?
What were you called to that was new?
How is the experience of a transition connected with the presence of God’s call?
Window 5. Caregiving
Offering up close and personal care for a person in serious need is a unique experience. The grandparent of a child who has a parent addicted to drugs is called to respond in a focused caring way. The spouse or adult child of an older person with dementia is called to care in a deeply personal way.
Many people in the healthcare field find themselves responding to the call to care for individuals who are suffering on multiple levels. This kind of care is a unique call from God to learn, to shuffle schedules, and sometimes to reorganize finances all in the service of caring. God the healer calls us to intimate responses when suffering is right in front of us and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine vulnerability is a suffering person.
Write about a time when you were up close and personal with a person in profound need.
Who was this person?
What was your initial impression of the situation?
How did you, as an instrument of calling, respond in the short term and in the long term?
How was the person’s vulnerability connected with the presence of God’s call?
Window 6. Sacrifice
There is a unique call that some people experience that compels them to put the well-being and the safety of others above their own. The call to sacrifice can be experienced by parents, friends, healthcare workers, first responders, investigative reporters, those in the military and even those who find themselves in unexpected disaster situations.
Some people experience danger as a calling. They want to respond where the need is intense and when the stakes are high. God calls some people to strong courage and decisive action. God who is filled with courage calls us to move in the direction of danger when needs are urgent and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine fortitude in crisis moments.
Describe a time when you sacrificed in a significant way for someone or some group or describe a time when you were inspired by the sacrifice someone else made for others.
In the situation you described, how did you feel called?
In the Scriptures we are taught that love casts out fear. How does the call to sacrifice connect us to divine courage?
Window 7. Loss
There are many ways that people experience loss: loss of a job, loss of family or friends to death, loss of family or friends due to interpersonal conflict, loss of a marriage to divorce, loss of mobility as one gets older. Loss includes a call to acknowledge our fragility and our need for others.
It is an illusion to think that we can make it through life with pure individual effort. Loss reminds us that the personal connections we have with others are life essentials. In the experience of loss, God is calling us to connect more deeply with those who can support and sustain us through the losses we mourn. God who restores calls us to accept loss as a journey through weakness and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine peace as we rest in the supportive arms of those who love us.
Describe a significant loss you have experienced.
What was it like to be more fragile or weak as a result of the loss?
What was your calling experience in this state of fragility?
To whom did you turn for support? How was that support restorative for you?
How was your own experience of fragility a way to connect with God?
Window 8. Serving the World
While it is often easy to hear and respond to the call to love a spouse or a close friend, it is more difficult to hear and respond to the call to love and serve those who are suffering hundreds or thousands of miles away. Humans have an instinct to love and protect their own… those who are close to them. But can love be bigger than that? Our faith tradition is riddled with stories about loving the outsider and caring for the person who doesn’t deserve our care.
Christian faith calls us to rise above the instinct to care exclusively for our own and to respond to the multitudes who cry out for peace and justice no matter who they are or where they live. We have even recently become aware that our effort to conserve natural resources is a way to respond to the call to care for countless people who won’t be born for decades or centuries. This is the call to love in big ways. God who is universal and mysterious calls us to love more than we can imagine and opens the door of opportunity to encounter divine presence in the unknown. Journaling Questions
Write about your experience of responding to the call to love and care for those close to you versus your response to love and care for those who are far away from you.
Given the limits of time and resources we all experience, what are some ways you can respond to the needs of those who aren’t a part of your inner circle of family and friends?
What is the connection between universal human concern, serving in big ways beyond our borders, and the mysterious identity of God?
Closing Reflections on the Eight Windows
What are you learning about God? What are you learning about yourself and others as instruments of calling? What are you learning about calling? What are you learning about loving others?