Listen: do you want to know a secret?

What’s worth doing, even if I fail?
–Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 42

Really, what I want to be doing is to be climbing into bed at an absurdly early hour. My Sweetie is having a quiet night, too, of television and pine-nut shelling… he watches far less TV these past months than I’ve been accustomed to, lo these many married years, so I’m glad to hear the sounds of documentaries from the living room. Anyway, the new coverlet on the middle-room daybed has an inviting texture to rest on. 

Today’s Monday-lesson started with calling–that is, God’s particular work you’re intended to do. Our Sunday dinner conversation, just me and My Sweetie, centered around calling. The air I swim in seems to be full of “calling”–what does God want you (me) to do in the next phase of life?

I don’t know. Not even a hint. (Well, there are all those teacher-comments… I got still another one on Sunday… .) All I know is that I’m to be taking these seminary classes this semester. And that God provided for my midterms. (That was really weird, God, what you did there. Because why not have me do school in the ordinary way, like other people?? I hope it pleased you!)

Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’m to take more classes during spring term. 

I wish I had more to go on. 
I tucked the above Brené Brown quote away after I finished Daring Greatly this summer. 

The usual quote is “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Which is supposed to encourage you to fling yourself, like Icarus, off the nearest high point in the certainty that what draws you in the times you’re not building preventative cushions is part of your higher, better self. 

Maybe. Or maybe it’s the untethered insane part of yourself. Hard to tell until the net materializes, or the updraft flows, or the ground hits you in the face. Flinging oneself off the edge is like that. The most recent time I tried it, it hurt like nobody’s business — I might not have failed (I can’t tell, myself), but I sure didn’t soar. 

I mentioned that yesterday I was working with girls on Silver Project ideas. Perhaps it’s those experiences that have me cheering, “YES!” alongside Brown’s quote. 

Because I teach a variation on this statement to ‘my’ girls. 

Silver is hard. Silver is frustrating. Your project will not go according to your plan, and it will probably have a point where you can’t see how you’re going to get it finished at all. 

So it’s important to do something that matters to you SO MUCH that you can’t stand not to finish. Something that aches or burns or pulls inside you, so that reaching that end-place you first envisioned is easier on your heart than stopping. 

Those things are worth doing, even when they don’t work out. Those are the things you — exactly you, not persons-of-privilege or humanity-in-general — need to go ahead and do. 

When I work with these girls, we have to spend time talking and thinking. And they spend even more time talking and thinking with their other adults. Unfortunately, reflection is required in order to figure out what you would do even if you failed. It takes time to listen to what the world whispers. And we’ve none of us been good at taking that time. 

I do know, though, that once you’ve heard one of your whispers, the foundational strength it gives is like nothing else. It’s like standing with your feet apart, weight centered… balanced, and firm, but flexible. 

That is when you know you’re in your calling. 

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. –Frederick Buechner 


ps: yes, the title is a quote:

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