“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.” ~Rumi
When I was young, I remember going to the food market with my father one day and as we were shopping, many kids surrounded him begging him to purchase their products. More would gravitate to him than others simply because he was a White man shopping there and would most likely try to get more money from him than the local shoppers. In this memory, the children noticed me – that is, a Filipino child like them – with him. They asked him who I was, and he told them I was his daughter. The children then began begging him to adopt them as well, and that they wanted to go America. The crowd of children around us grew and started following us, I could tell my father got a little nervous and picked me up, and started carrying me back to the car. I remember looking over my father’s shoulder and seeing all the children reaching for my father, begging to be adopted, yelling at how useful they could be to my father if they were adopted… at the moment I remember reaching back out to them… I was one of them, yet I had been “chosen” to go on a different journey. I felt special. My parents chose me…of all the children in the Philippines who needed a good family and/or off the streets and would’ve given anything or done anything to be adopted by an American family.
My parents have reminded me several times growing up how special I am and more importantly, how it was God who chose me for them.
That memory in the market has never escaped me. But I struggled while growing up because I also questioned God, “why me?” Why not any of those other children? What did I have that others didn’t? I even felt a deep sense of guilt and didn’t understand it.
Although I have often wondered how my life would be different had I not been chosen, I have since learned this was the wrong way to look at it. Dwelling on the “why me” and “what if” only brought feelings of guilt and destructive behaviors.
I have since learned that that memory serves as God’s first revelation to me. It is a reminder to live my life with ultimate gratitude… and more importantly, to listen to His calling.
I didn’t realize it was a “calling” until it was first whispered to me during a mass service at the Church of San Miniato, Florence, Italy (2004), “It is time to come home.”
I was confused about what it meant. Was it time to visit home (things at home were still estranged at this time) and make amends with my parents? Where is home? How do I live a life of gratitude? What does gratitude look like? What does this mean exactly? I’ve asked God (several times), “could you be any more vague?”
And honestly, to this day I’m not always clear on what His calling is… however, what I am sure of, is that I committed to following His lead since that day. And when I listen at the heart level, He ensures that clarity comes and I am guided in a way that serves us all.
In the broadest sense, “the calling” as I know it and can best be describe into words, is simply to bring more love to the world. To always strive to be closer to God. To go beyond language, class, gender, and culture. To experience human connection at its most raw and basic level. Connect with God on this level. It is something that cannot be described in words, but experienced to fully understand it.
And for that to happen, I needed empathy and forgiveness. Empathy heals and nourishes all those it touches. It is needed to spread love, to be available to hear others, whoever and wherever they are. Empathy is the prerequisite to forgiveness… forgiving oneself and forgiving others… and enables a healing in which our soul moves beyond mere existence. We can actually thrive.
Spend a few moments thinking about your calling this week. It may be front and center in your life, or it may be disguised as something else. I believe we each have hundreds of callings throughout our lives, some big and some small. Yet, we rarely take the time to listen while we stay busy “living” our lives.
For those who do take the time, simply listen to your heart speak its truth, and be brave enough to follow those persistent whispers.