My husband recently reminded me that I had done very little to design my own life. He recalled at key moments before every transition that “out of the blue” the next phone call, brochure, family member, professor, etc. had been the specific catalyst to a significant change in my journey. Of course, “out of the blue” was his euphemism for his follow-up statement that ““He” had been looking out for me all along.” None of it was out of the blue, but I had to remember who was calling and decide if I wanted to answer each time. Not only was he right, I took a look back at moments prior to those that he had highlighted and realized that it had been true all of my life.
How easy it is for us to forget that we accomplish nothing on our own and that whether we are mindful of it at the moment, we don’t travel this journey alone. There are those with us who are the encouragers in our lives – the immediate family, the teachers, the preachers, the mentors, the parents, the spouses and our dearest friends. They walk beside us, encourage us, pray for us, dream with us, and hope for us. The strength we pull from them, the outstretched hand we reach for, and arms that hold us when the journey is particularly rough are physical reminders that we are loved and protected. They are vessels which are used to carry messages to us that we need to hear as we consider throughout our lives, “Who is calling and do I want to answer?”
What can feel particularly remote at tough times is remembering that they are those who hold us dear on earth and that there is another who holds us dear through eternity. As I walked that mental journey in my mind that my husband nudged me towards, I saw the moment that “out of the blue” the catalog from what is now my alma mater arrived and fell open to a scholarship page, opening the door to a private education that would have been otherwise unaffordable; and the only institution to which I applied. Imagine the audacity – and the blind faith. I had no idea how to take the next steps of my journey nor what the calling was – but it arrived little less than gift-wrapped at each stage of the journey, as long as my heart and mind were open. I remembered the call from my Dean at that very institution one day that had me thinking I must be in trouble. I walked with great trepidation to his office only to have him hand me a brochure and say, “You MUST apply for this scholarship.” A few months later, while my college friends were having difficulty getting jobs during a recession, I was assured a full scholarship to attend graduate school internationally. And the journey continued.
The story unfolds in similar fashion throughout my entire life. A small-town girl with yearnings to see the world, but with no idea that it would possibly happen, has actually lived that life. Take credit for the design? Absolutely not. Did I have a clue to where I was headed? No. At one particularly low point, when I was lost in the forest with the wolves of life circling, I prayed, “I’ll go where you want and do what you want, even if it’s not somewhere I think I want to go, if you’ll just take my life and make something of it.” Be careful what you pray for as He answered the next day using my Mother as the catalyst for the job that changed my life and took me to locations that led to amazing experiences and also required obedience.
As coaches, we meet people every day who are on their own journeys and come to us for relief; seeking their eyes to be opened and their ears to hear. Requests are made of them constantly by parents, spouses, children, bosses, churches, community groups, volunteer organizations, political groups, children’s teachers, and so on. There are people constantly calling upon their lives, time, and expertise. These requests become either a fulfillment of, or a drag on, our spirits; particularly if the life competency of setting boundaries has not been acquired.
Yes, there are moments in all of our lives where our duty and responsibility, whether to those we love or our jobs, require us to do, and/or take time to do, things that are appropriate to our roles. However, there are untold asks that are made of us that are not in alignment with our callings. When we get out of synch with, not only the authenticity of who we are, but our values, our gifts, and our calling; our spirits feel weighed down, broken, and heavy. It manifests in everything from appetite changes, actual depression, physical illnesses, behavioral acting out to just feeling so lost, we don’t know which way to turn. The ability to see our options vanishes. The likelihood of building constructive action plans diminishes. Our hearts hurt. Our minds are blinded. Our spirits are crushed. We can’t hear our own voice or God’s.
Whether new to faith, returning, or considering, people must be able to discern who is calling in their lives so they can determine whether or not they want to answer. Taking the time to assess their gifts in light of the origin of the calling, evaluating personal values and from whence those values come, while being prayerful about God’s wishes for the next phase of the journey is no small matter to consider.
Christian coaches have the opportunity to be God’s tools to help others see the linkages, explore the options, and be encouragers, while allowing the follower the safe space to hear God and to step towards the life He has planned for them. This is a space of great privilege for the coach, one to be treasured and held sacred for the coachee, while providing space for grace to appear.