Living Our Vocation

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dedicated to my little sister in Christ, about whom I thought as this idea came to me

Or, the perils of ignoring popular culture.

Coming into work today, I heard this for the zillionth time and thought about it yet again:

Something to be Proud of
Montgomery Gentry

Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down,
If you're ashamed how I turned out?
Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow:
Said: "Let me tell you, right now:

"That's something to be proud of:
"That's a life you can hang your hat on.
"You don't need to make a million:
"Just be thankful to be workin'.
"If you're doing what you're able
"An' putting food there on the table,
"And providing for the family that you love:
"That's something to be proud of.

"And if all you ever really do is the best you can,
"Well, you did it man."

Oddly, I always get a little choked up over the lines about "something to be proud of." Today I gave it a little thought and realized what was trying to poke its head out of the ground.

Too many of us are dissatisfied with where we are in life. I know too many people who want to be something other than what they are--richer, taller, smarter, friendlier, less friendly. They want a career, a home in a different section of town, a new wife, a different wife, obedient kids, smart kids, a new Ferrari--you name it, the human race is expert at discontent.

Let me share with you a moment a list of my own discontents: I didn't beat Mary Shelley to the publishing punch, I haven't published my first novel or first book of poetry, I'm not as wildly popular as Stephen King and Michael Crichton, I'm not as cool and as obscure as James Joyce, I don't have the voice of William Faulkner, I can't express the joy of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I am not living on St. John, or better yet my own Carribean island, I didn't achieve sanctity and sainthood at the age of 24, I didn't write the new Summa, I haven't discovered a new form of prayer, I haven't uncovered a new Cahtolic Doctrine, heck, I haven't even been able to come up with a new sin. If I were of a mind to, I could wander around and recite Ecclesiastes all day long, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." "There is nothing new under the sun." And boy is the latter true--particularly when it come to discontents--none of them are new--only new to us.

This discontent is another trend we are called to buck as Christians. Look back at the lyrics. Dad, did I disappoint you because I didn't live up to some expectations? Dad's answer--"You don't need to make a million, just be thankful to be workin'." And more importantly, the advice we all need to hear, "And if all you ever really do is the best you can,/Well, you did it."

God has carefully selected, cultivated, and chosen the time and the circumstances of every event in our lives. He has fashioned us and our lives. This is the crucible of refinement, the cross of the day. I don't sell as many books as Anne Rice. I'm not as popular as Stephen King. Oh well, buck up and get over it--that isn't my crucible.

Our crosses are custom made. We might think of them as orthopedic devices. Only in fitting to them are we made straight. We can only fit them by who we are and where we are in our life's journey.

And so, to quote the Joyce I am not, "a commodius vicus of recirculation brings us back to" rejoicing. Rejoice in this moment, rejoice in who God made you. Take up that cross. More than take it up, conform to it and be transformed into the image God wishes for you. Take your rightful place in the body of Christ and don't fret if it isn't the place you wanted or saw yourself in--that's part of the crucible too.

So, once again, with Saint Paul, all together now, "Rejoice in the lord always. Again, I say, rejoice."

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I like that idea that our crosses are custom made 'orthopedic devices' ... nice phrasing. I'm definitely going to remember that. Thanks.

I really liked this one, Steven. I needed to think about it too. You have really had some incredibly good posts since you returned from your short retreat!



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 17, 2005 8:38 AM.

A Reminder was the previous entry in this blog.

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