The Calling Question

I can feel myself slowing down as the end of the year approaches. I feel like a ball running out of steam, making its last few rotations before coming full stop.

I have one last trip coming up before December waves goodbye. There are bits of tape and scraps of wrapping paper stuck to my socks. I forgot to change before I started baking for the neighbors, and there’s puffs of flour all over my dress shirt. This is it. We are here. I am exhausted.

But the thing that is weighing heaviest on my mind—the nagging question that hums while I move around the country and my kitchen—is what I’m clutching to my chest into next year. In a spiritual formation group, we talked about calling and convergence. What on earth am I really here for?

I’m scooping hot chocolate into cocoa bombs and wonder. Am I doing what I really need to do? What is going to have the most impact? What is the thing that makes as many parts of me come alive as possible?

I drop mini marshmallows into the cocoa dust. Drop, drop.

The question bothers me, this calling question. CQ for short. The CQ is a pebble in the shoe of my thoughts. I’m limping and moving but uncomfortable. I need to sit; I’m tired.

I have caught glimpses of what it looks and feels like to have my life running on all cylinders. Explosive joy of movement and synergy. I remember recognizing in that season that I was experiencing something elusive and supposedly fleeting. I remember savoring it and being afraid of it. I could feel its incredible liberation while also feeling its finiteness. How could I expect it to last? My fear refused to let me sink into its softness.

It’s not that these places don’t exist. I know they do. But as I carefully melt the chocolate rims and place the cocoa hemispheres together, I hear my CQ soundtrack.

If you’ve been consistently called a change agent, raise your hand.

If you’ve been called to be a “prophetic voice,” raise your hand.

Change leader? Keep ‘em raised.

Outsiders see these people as exciting. Glamorous. Leaders. But friends, I speak for every person, especially women, who consistently get called to these roles. It sucks. It’s the worst.

You are misunderstood. You are moving too slow for the early adopters, and you are killing the late adopters’ hopes and dreams. Insecure leaders will double down on efforts to elevate themselves or discredit your expertise.

It is too much and never enough, all at the same time, almost all the time.

You start every position, every project, waiting for the boom to drop. You will inevitably sit in the meeting or conference room or zoom call or lunch table where someone will whack you for offering your wisdom, experience, expertise. After they’ve used it, and you, until you’re dry.

I don’t know how to explain it to people who don’t carry this particular burden.

You are deliriously in love with the potential and the people. You are frantically excited to move something from chaos or mediocrity into its God-given capacity. It is ridiculously intoxicating and evocative. It is big hopes. Big potential. Big energy and effort. And we’re willing to spend it.

But you feel it. You can feel it in your chest. In your spirit. In your knower. This space has a time limit. People will be excited at first and will even use you until the change is too hard. You feel like too much. When something or someone feels threatened, then you’re trapped. Fear and self-doubt creep in. You find yourself relying on people coming to rescue, yet no one is coming. You are the change agent. It is a solo gig.

I wrap the cocoa bombs carefully in holiday paper and slide them into treat boxes for our neighbors. I think about the weeping prophet. I don’t want it. I don’t want this calling. I hate the CQ question.

I hate what being wired this way does to my soul when things go south. The repeated cycles of disappointment. Being used for my ideas and energy. The cynicism that underscores the predictability of people. It’s wrapped around my fragile hopefulness, like this holiday paper.

Pray for your change agent friends. Listen to them when they say the environments are squeezing their souls. If the resistance is high, their wells are getting low. Step back and see the big picture of what this mantle really means. Send us cookies and cards to go out to dinner. Send prayers and hands and words that hold us when the question is heavy.

Eliza Cortes Bast is a fierce and honest follower of Jesus. She is a pastor and denominational executive, dedicated to helping churches think missionally. She lives into her passion by connecting people, advocating for the community, and helping organizations think strategically so they can be healthy, vibrant, and sustainable. Eliza lives in Michigan with her patient and handsome husband EJ, and their two boys. Her loves include her home country Puerto Rico, her interracial marriage, a good steak, salsa dancing, writing, empowering emerging leaders, making the impossible possible, Diet Coke, and mentoring. She is not a big fan of anger without action, generalizations, basketball, and saying you can’t live without coffee. She believes you can because she believes in you.