I was 16 that year when my younger sister Ericka, only 14 years old herself, received the “call on her life” to become a social worker.
Heaven gave ME nothing but crickets that day.
I mean…she was literally standing inches away from me at the makeshift alter in a packed out evening chapel service.
We were nearing the end of our week at a summer camp for Assemblies of God youth and I felt like I was running out of time.
Each year the format was the same – days filled with recreational activities and team building cabin competitions…checking out the opposite sex…but not too closely because we were all covered “modestly.” We even went swimming underneath giant T-shirts on top of our one piece bathing suits (It’s a wonder we didn’t all drown!).
I was praying just as hard as she was, I can promise you that.
In fact, if you ask Ericka now, she’ll tell you that I took these things a hell of a lot more seriously than she did (no pun intended). 😉
I was about to start my senior year and everyone else knew what they wanted to do. All that was left was to wait in line and run it by God to make sure He approved. We’d been doing this since we were babies.
So there I was, with a fervent and sincere spirit, letting God know I was an open and willing vessel; ready to be filled with His purpose for my life. Even if that was to become a wife and mother who didn’t work outside the home… the least you could do was let a sister know!
One by one I heard the pastor celebrating with each student around me whom God had blessed with their calling. Why had He not seemed to favor me?
Fast forward 20 years… and in that time many highs punctuated by deep pain and loss:
- The death of our baby brother killed by childhood cancer when he was just 10 years old
- The break up of my “perfect youth group relationship” of nearly 6 years only two months before our wedding
- Another relationship resulting in an eight year marriage producing two beautiful blonde haired, green eyed baby girls yet punctuated by emotional abuse and infidelity, ending in the death of more shared hopes and dreams
- Betrayals and backs turned from many well-meaning yet horribly misguided religious followers
…Just to name a few.
The Portfolio Life
In those same 20 years, I’d also tried a myriad of “professional hats” on for size.
- Teaching English overseas in Japan
- Personal Trainer
- Bartender and Certified Front of the House Trainer in restaurants
- Administrative Assistant
- Office Manager
- Small Groups Leader
- Full time mom
I’m a great example of what the interwebs now call “the portfolio life.” You see, by the time I fell in love with psychology, I had a plethora of experience and interests that, on paper, were ALL OVER THE PLACE.
This created several problems for me. The first of which was that I couldn’t ask myself to choose between aspects of any of them that I enjoyed (e.g., data entry, writing, multiculturalism, public speaking).
The second was that I was worried that I would never find true absolute fulfillment (whatever that is anyway) or that potential clients would be afraid to work with me because I didn’t have the “traditional trajectory.”
Even scarier in my mind, was what people might think of a divorcee wanting to coach couples on their own intimacy levels and saving their relationships. *Gasp!*
Service Over Selection
Thank God one of my mentors lovingly reminded me that some of the events in my life I personally found most shameful or painful were the very things that would allow me to speak to certain client’s particular pain in ways another therapist who hasn’t experienced that same crisis can’t.
So the pieces of my life that I had been wishing God would’ve left out had best prepared me to fulfill my own sacred contract!
Think about it – when you have a medical issue like say, cancer, do you want to see a general practitioner? OR an oncologist who has spent decades researching holistic treatments for your specific type of cancer?
Same is true for me when I now look for my own counselor or life coach (because I believe even therapists could use someone to talk to now and then).
And the same has come to be true for my own clients seeking help with spiritual abuse, intimacy struggles, perfectionism and more.
On our FB page, I recently addressed this issue of life purpose a.k.a. – “Why am I here?”
You are here for a REASON. Whether you were “created” or came to be because a bunch of badass star bits rubbed together against other f’ing amazing DNA material, you have a PURPOSE.
At the end of the line of all life purposes is – SERVICE. To self, others, and whatever/ whoever is beyond us.
Mine happens to be characterized by “revolution” but yours could feature compassion or sincerity or integration…it’s NOT JUST YOUR CAREER. In fact, not everyone gets the feeling of self-actualization on the job, and they’re not f’ed up if that’s the case.
Some of us find it outside our paycheck. In fact, for many of you, simply getting paid for what lights you up would ruin it (just ask certain musicians or athletes).
So maybe they knit hats for preemies in the NICU,
OR read books to preschoolers or the elderly,
OR clean up roadside litter
OR write poetry
OR dance like nobody’s watching or hell, everybody’s watching…
Are you feeling me yet??
You are here to better the planet. To be kick ass star dust bits. Follow your soul’s cravings to find ways of delivering such amazingness and quit worrying so much about the f’ing container you’re delivering it in.
So what if we don’t have to pick??
Maybe, like me, your journey has felt like it’s been all over the place. And each day you wonder, “Is this all there is?? Am I missing something?? Did the Universe simply forget about me when they were handing out life purposes??”
Here’s what I know Dear Warrior – Sometimes we get too close to the forest to see the individual trees. (Try looking at the end of your own nose if you enjoy lessons in futility. 😉
Similarly, lives like ours are stunning works of pointillist art (a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image; first became popular in 1886).
All we can see are the individual experiences we’ve gone through or different career paths we’ve tried, but for others on the outside, those same experiences cultivate a stunning tapestry of depth and beauty they can draw from if we allow.
If this is resonating with you today, my encouragement is this – focus on service wherever you find yourself. And while you’re doing so, tell the Universe that you are ready to allow your life experiences to be of use for others. Follow what lights you up, even if it is a bajillion little things; your soul may need all of them.
And if you need help healing from anything or reframing your story, find you a soul worker whose style resonates with you. After all, that’s like part of their own sacred contract with the Universe. 😉
Namaste and No Limits!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Powell, LMHC is a licensed therapist, university psychology instructor, and empowerment coach who believes life should be lived as a journey that is “anything but ordinary.”
Passionate about holding sacred space for the rebels and mystics of the world – the healers, the visionaries, and the creatives, she guides them in bringing their soul driven purpose to the planet in a very practical and powerful way.