Twenty years ago, it was the summer of 1995. I was preparing to move to Bethel College and Seminary (that’s what it was back then, now it is Bethel University). That was the only college I wanted to go to, the only one I considered. I had already declared a major and I’d signed up for my classes.
I was certain psychology was my calling. I had sailed through my high school psych class with ease. It was fascinating information. I read through my mother’s Intro to Psychology text book with a hunger I couldn’t explain. I had to know more.
How could I possibly be called to anything else? Obviously, my path was abundantly clear, right? Life isn’t half as clear as an eighteen year old would like to think. Our plans are so easy, the path so clear. Nothing could possibly get in my way. Except it did.
My freshman year I met a man from South Dakota who was destined to change my life. Plans and goals changed quickly when placed in the light of a kindred spirit. One whom I knew from our very first meeting, he was destined for me. That, however, is a post or two for another day. How’s that for a teaser?
Matthew and I married after my sophomore year in college and I transferred to the University of Minnesota. Going to college and dating is completely different from going to college while married. I no longer paid attention to doing the appropriate internships or forming the right relationships. It was all I could do to get my classwork done, work a few hours to help pay bills, and get enough sleep. I’d gone from a loose plan to be a Christian therapist, to working for the FBI or CBA in MN, because, you know, that isn’t a career stretch or anything…
I graduated and, though the FBI was accepting applications when I graduated, they were for places much further away than I cared to go. My husband had a relatively secure job and it seemed foolish to force our small family to start over, in a new place, for a goal that would have been amazing, but was not my ultimate heart’s desire. In fact, I learned right about the time I graduated with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminality and Deviance that I had no idea what God wanted me to do with my life.
I jumped into the working world to help pay the bills, but never felt my calling. Somehow, I’d gone from so sure of myself, to floundering. Surely, I hadn’t been mistaken back then? I decided to go back to school and get my Master’s degree. That would be the answer, the school environment would bring it all back and I would get my mojo back. I would realize I wasn’t an idiot who’d spent years in school for…nothing.
Well, as would happen all three times I applied to a Master’s program, I got pregnant. Yup, every single time I would feel that itch to start over, God would respond with a positive pregnancy test. A very effective, “not yet.”
Years went by, I got discouraged and disheartened. I’d obviously missed my calling. I knew I was supposed to be at Bethel all those years ago to meet my husband. That was the only thing I was sure of. Then, a friend of mine wrote a book.
I bought it months after she’d self-published it. It needed some editing and I offered to do it for her, pro bono. She happily let me at it and I enjoyed every minute. That is when I felt the first urge to write and I did a little. I wrote a few chapters, then quit. It was wonderful, but I was much too busy.
After a few years of editing and helping others realize their publishing goals, I decided to sit and write again. What came out of my fingers was pure, unadulterated sewage; but it taught me a lot. I wrote the whole thing last June, then my friend (the one who wrote that book) challenged me to write another for NaNoWriMo camp. I wasn’t sure I had another story in me. I was (again) wrong.
My first goal for camp was 30,000 words. I finished that within ten days. I upped my goal to 50,000. Got that done by day nineteen. Finally changed my goal to 75,000 and finished with somewhere around 79,000 words and a novel within 4000 words of completion. And this one didn’t suck.
Then it hit me, Psychology is the study of individuals, Sociology is the study of groups (remember Criminality and Deviance, that was a sociology minor) I studied people. I had always thought my desire to watch people meant I should work in psychology; turns out, I was meant to use it to create ‘real’ people. People who you can relate to as a reader and will miss when the story is done.
So, maybe I didn’t get my calling completely wrong but I sure did go off the rails for a number of years. Of course, I’m not the woman I was twenty years ago either. I had to grow up, mature, get life experience, before I was ready to do this.
Now that you’ve waded through my messy life. How about you? Have you ever felt like you messed up your calling?