Hi, I’m Becca, and I’ve had ten jobs in five years.
From teaching to church ministry to floral arranging to sports retail—I’ve done it all. I spent a semester as an art student. I’ve moved six times, most recently to Central America. Clearly, I am not one to give career advice. In fact, I could probably write a book about how not to succeed in life.
Over the years, I saw God in the ones who stayed. I saw God in the ones who were invested, dedicated, and hard-working, who were financially stable and able to give to those in need. I saw God in the ones who had husbands and wives and houses and cars and children. I saw God in my parents, who made wise decisions, valued hard work, and created a life that was stable and predictable.
I always thought “God’s will for my life” would be for me to put down roots, to have a full-time job with benefits, to invest in a community, to be financially responsible, and to get married. But that’s not how this season of my life has turned out so far. It’s been so much different than I ever imagined, and along the way I’ve learned that my career and my calling aren’t the same thing.
Oh how I wish someone could have whispered this in my ear five years ago when I thought that finding “God’s will for my life” meant finding peace and stability and financial independence. Real life sounds so big and important, but I wish someone had told me it’s okay to fail.
For most of us, our calling isn’t to a specific job or career path. It’s easy to feel stuck when plans don’t work out, when life doesn’t happen the way we thought it would. Regardless of our circumstances, though, we are still created in God’s image. We can still be used by him right where we are to serve, to love, and to create. External circumstances don’t take away from who we are.
Life is so much messier than I thought it would be. So much harder, so much more uncertain. But I believe God is also in the mess, the failed experiments, the instability. God is in the wanderers, the quitters, the post-grads who live with their parents. “God’s will” might be woven throughout all of our stories, regardless of whether the world would consider us “successful.”
Our calling is to love others, to live fully, and to find ways to be thankful even in difficult circumstances. The Apostle Paul says in 1st Thessalonians to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).
This is the will of God—not to be successful, but to be thankful. Looking back, in a lot of ways I’m thankful that my plans didn’t work out. There are some days I can’t help but look at the wonder around me and think: If I hadn’t failed, if I hadn’t changed my plans, if I hadn’t moved, if I hadn’t faced difficult circumstances, I wouldn’t be here.
It’s okay for life to look different from our parents, our friends, or our own expectations. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for living. It’s good to have a career, to be financially independent, and to be a responsible adult, but it’s also okay to wander. It’s okay to try. It’s okay to ask questions, and to really wrestle with what we want our lives to look like. In fact, I think those of us who have done that will be better for it.
My mantra these days has been to “live as an experiment.” Even if we fail, even if everything goes wrong, the story isn’t over yet. I hope that all of our stories will have chapters about staying and about leaving, about investing and about letting go, about being home and about taking adventures, about being together and about being alone. But most of all, let’s live stories about finding our true calling and being thankful for the imperfect days we are given.
If you know people who are struggling to discover God’s will for their lives, will you email them this post to encourage them?