For me, this past year as a Fellow has been focused on the question of vocation, which, admittedly, is one of those buzzwords that is en vogue for fourth year Christians to consider. My time at UVa has been a continuous process of learning about myself, specifically my strengths and weaknesses. While you would think that self-discovery would help alleviate some of the angst caused by the ever-pressing stress of being unable to truly know yourself, I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’ve found that I’m someone who enjoys playing squash as much as I love grabbing lunch with friends. I’ve studied 17th century Spanish literature, 2nd century Rabbinic ethics and classical sociological theory. The knowledge I’ve gained in the classroom has been both extensive and myopic at the same time; I’ve learned a whole lot about very little. How am I supposed to take all of those interests and somehow form a career based around them? Is that even possible?
I’ve found a few puzzle pieces and will continue to discover more as life goes on until I can somehow piece them together to discover the real me, this person with whom I’ve been living. However, we all know that this is not what happens. There is no reason that I should expect all of these pieces to ever fit together. There is no 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’ve met enough people, you will quickly see that most of them never feel satisfied with the puzzle pieces they have been given.
All of these concerns seem to bubble up as the question of vocation is addressed. Everything seems to conflict with the unfortunately popular mantra “Do what you love.” Am I the only one who is concerned that this credo implies that it is actually possible to know what you love, or that if you were to know what you love, there exists something that allows you to satisfy that desire?
My gut response to these worries is to take the talents that God has given me and bury them until I know how to best put them to use. But, having read the parable, I know that this isn’t an option. I must act.
So, for now I will continue to ask God how I can best serve God's kingdom. I cannot see the big picture or the Lord's long-term plan for me, but I will continue to love in my daily life. Milton in Sonnet 19 was right to say, “They also serve who only stand and wait.” For now, I will struggle to serve by simply waiting on God's plan to unfold, knowing that this can be the most testing form of obedience for a Type-A UVA graduate.