The first in a series of vocation articles:
Finding your passion-Using your gifts-How do you recognize the gifts God gave you? How do you understand how to use them? What is your passion? Guidance to the many young people in college and university who are unsure of their current path in life and those already working in various professions who are looking for more meaning in their life.
Discovering Your Gifts
Living the word of God each day by using your spiritual gifts and passion for your faith is a challenging but remarkable way of life. Letting God truly take over the reigns of your life is a process that ultimately enriches the well being of those whose lives you touch and brings joy to your soul and life. Learning to ultimately trust God is liberating.
To begin the growth of God’s spirit within, you must first come to understand the passions and spiritual gifts God has given you. Thus begins a period of reflection and inner searching through prayer, trust in God’s mercy and love for you, and a desire to follow God’s lead.
God wants to have an intimate relationship with you. God is fully aware of your inner passion, spiritual gifts, and the challenges you face in opening your heart to God’s guidance. When you pray, understand that God wants you to know Him on a more intimate level. As you begin to open up your heart to this experience, praying and longing for the will of God to be present in your actions, you must also spend time listening for God’s voice within you. Many occurrences throughout the Bible point to the fact that God reveals God’s own self in a secret and quiet place. To understand Gods plan for our lives, we must open our hearts to quietly listen and then follow what our heart is saying to us.
Every day we must place our self in God’s hands, letting God guide us in our actions with others in our jobs as well as our relationship with friends and family and for those in colleges and universities with their classmates.
Learning to place our complete trust in God is sometimes hard to do. As we learn in the book of Job, the how’s and why’s of God’s actions are beyond our understanding, but it is by following God’s will that we receive every blessing. It is in following God’s will through our emotional pain, that we experience spiritual growth and redemption. Following God’s will is discovered in the deepest part of your heart by listening to your life and trying to understand what your life is truly about.
Letting go of the pieces of our lives we don’t want God to have control of can be confusing and uncomfortable. However, as you depend on God more and more for strength and guidance, your passions and purpose in life will be liberated. Your confidence in your decisions on life’s journey will grow and you’ll experience a deep sense of peace. Asking not, “What ought I do with my life?” but, “Who am I? or, What is my true nature?” are the essential questions that lead to answering vocational questions. If we walk this earth to be the gifts that God created, then what will bring our deeper selves peace and joy? Frederick Buechner says a true vocation is, “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
As we learn in James 2:17, faith without works is dead. We can say we believe but if we do not trust God’s desires for us even when in doubt, our faith will not grow. Acting upon God’s desires for us takes a combination of listening quietly in prayer and putting our faith into action. God will even provide you opportunities to have significant impact on people’s lives as Jesus continually draws you into a deeper personal relationship with God.
Being afraid of the unknown is a major factor in the hesitation to surrender your life to God’s calling. Losing your comfort level and not really knowing what God will do with you is difficult to take on. God has revealed through the Word, (John 3:16) that we are to surrender our gifts so that God can refine them and give them back to us wholly and fully within our hearts to share with others and the world. God will indeed liberate your soul. Opening your heart to God may lead to wonderful surprises you could never have dreamt of.
Pray and listen for God’s guidance in finding and using your passions and spiritual gifts. Trust that God will use them and follow God’s calling when you hear it. Enjoy a faith filled life rich in love and human kindness. Best of all, enjoy an intimate and inspiring walk of faith with God as your constant companion!
About the Author: Sister Pat Dowling is the Vocation Director of the Sisters of Bon Secours, an international congregation of Catholic Sisters engaged in active ministry. The Bon Secours Community was founded during the early 1800’s in Paris, France, answering God’s calling to help the sick and people who were poor. Nearly 200 years later, Bon Secours Sisters have expanded to seven countries and continue to create religious communities worldwide that focus on the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of people, as well as, guiding women interested in how to become a nun. For more information on the Sisters of Bon Secours visit http://BonSecoursVocations.org or email: CBSvocations@bshsi.org.