What if, finding our life purpose, our calling… whatever you want to call it, was as simple as just listening? Listening to that voice. Listening to those urges. Listening to what tugs at our soul.
This is what Parker J. Palmer has advocated for decades through his work. And he should know. He started off, like millions of others, in a field where he was determined to rise to the top. But realized once he got there, that the position in which he’d worked years to attain, was actually a poor fit for him. He admits having felt “stifled” and knew that something else was calling him in a different direction.
In the article, Are You Listening to Your Life?, Palmer touches upon his “journey toward an undivided life” (the subtitle to his book A Hidden Wholeness) and gives his readers hope that they too can find their true purpose. Just by listening.
Vocation, I’ve learned, doesn’t come from willfulness. It comes from listening. That insight is hidden in the word vocation itself, which is rooted in the Latin for “voice.” Before I tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen for what my life wants to do with me.
I’ve come to understand vocation not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received—the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation doesn’t come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I’m not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be.
So all we have to do is listen. It’s as simple as that.
But simple does not always mean easy. And Palmer talks about the resistance we experience even once we hear the truth of who we are and what we’re meant to do. Which is normal I think. It’s only natural to be weary of the unknown even if it’s, as Palmer says, our “birthright.”
So if you’re on the path of self-discovery and getting better in touch with your own calling, I highly recommend reading the full article and perhaps checking out some of Palmer’s books. And though this idea of a calling or life purpose may seem elusive now, take comfort in knowing it’s already there in you. Just below the surface. Waiting to be heard and revealed.
So what are your thoughts? Did Palmer’s words give you any insight? If you’re stuck on the road to finding your purpose, what is it that most troubles or confuses you? Or if you’ve reconnected with your calling, what helped you rediscover it?