On Calling and Haitian Moms
It has taken me forty years to assess the difference between the gospel and the American evangelical version of the gospel. Those were one and the same for ages—no take-backs, no prisoners, no holds barred. I filtered the kingdom through my upper middle-class, white, advantaged, denominational lens, and by golly, I found a way to make most of it fit!
But then God changed my life, and everything got weird. I discovered the rest of the world! And other cultures! And different Christian traditions! And people who were way, way different from me! And poverty! Then the system in which God operated according to my rules started disintegrating.
There is a biblical benchmark I now use. We will refer to this criterion for every hard question, big idea, topic, assessment of our own obedience, every “should” or “should not” and “will” or “will not” we ascribe to God, every theological sound bite. Here it is: If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.
Theology is either true everywhere or it isn’t true anywhere. This helps untangle us from the American God Narrative and sets God free to be God instead of the My-God-in-a-Pocket I carried for so long.
This brings me to the question at hand, another popular subject I am asked to pontificate on: What is my calling? (See also: How do I know my calling? When did you know your calling?)
In many ways, the perception of calling is a luxury of the privileged. A life’s purpose need not be authenticated by a business plan, a 501c3, a website, a salary, or an audience. We get to labor over our “calling” because we are educated and financially stable, so many of us eschew the honor of ordinary work and instead fret over the perception of wasting our lives.
Our single mom in Haiti entertains none of this. She works hard because she has to. She isn’t attempting to discern an elusive calling. She is raising her babies, working for a living, doing the best she can with what she has. Her purpose may not venture outside the walls of her home. We will never know her name. She probably won’t step into leadership or innovation or advocacy or social revolution.
Yet she is also worthy of the calling she has received.