I remember Ilana and I had a disagreement over this once. She couldn't fathom any reason why her near-life-ending accident should have happened. Yet, as she once alluded to herself, if she hadn't been nursed back from the brink of death to almost-full health and function by incredibly skilled and caring doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, she might never have realized that physical therapy could be a profession she loves so much, especially given her career path seemed headed in a different direction. As I explained to her, that doesn't mean her accident was a good thing or that I wished to belittle it — or even that it had to happen — but I do believe it happened (and she survived it despite the bleak odds) for a reason.
Anyway, I do believe that things in my life have happened for a reason and that God (or whatever power or being you choose to believe in) has been nudging me in a certain direction. As with Elijah on the mountain, I think God speaks to us in whispers, nudges, little clues here and there; we can listen attentively, or we can ignore them, and indeed they often get drowned out by all the background noise in our lives. It's hard to hear His counsel … and often even harder to act on it.
I think I got two little whispers/nudges since yesterday morning.
I decided I needed to go to Mass yesterday morning in Pocasset rather than going to the evening mass when I got back to Boston. I got up after only 4 or so hours of sleep and plenty of drinking the night before, fully expecting to be in horrible voice. I managed a little vocalizing while I showered, maybe 3 minutes worth all told, certainly not enough to warm me up. But I was in surprisingly good voice when I opened my mouth at Mass.
The nun in front of me had some words for me. I can't remember the sequence of everything she said, so I present them as individual, unordered nuggets. "You have to thank God every day for that voice." "I didn't sing a note today. I just sat and listened." "When people come to mass, they are all scattered and distracted. Then they hear a voice like that and it focuses them, uplifts them." "That is a gift from God." Rather than stroke my ego, her words humbled me. I almost shed tears on the way back to my car. This voice is a gift from God, and I do thank Him for it, but I have not nurtured this gift. I realized yet again that I need to move forward and develop my God-given gifts. He has given me this talent, and He has given me an opportunity to work with someone who can help me make the most of it. I would be negligent of His bounty if I didn't follow the path He has set before me.
This morning I had a conversation with my acupuncturist while she stuck me with needles. She told me that she worked for 12 years as a speech therapist, but she hated it. She stayed in that job, a job that she couldn't stand and that she was only moderately good at, because of the benefits, the steady salary, etc. But then she suddenly decided to leave that. She left New York for Boston without a job, without savings, not knowing how she was going to fend for herself, armed only with the conviction that what she had been doing was wrong. Her path led her to acupuncture, and she realized that her life had been a series of events leading up to that point: her aptitude in certain subjects at school, her interests, and so on — none of them pointed to speech therapy. And she feels she is happy and has found her calling, and working is a joy rather than a chore. "Whether you want to call it God or lifeforce or whatever fits into your belief system," she said, and she is a spiritual but certainly not religious person, "something convinced me to leave and give up everything and start all over, and it was the greatest decision I ever made."
Listening to her I couldn't help but notice the parallels. I've stayed in a job I don't like for close to 7 years because of the comfortable salary and excellent benefits, and I've been afraid to sever that cord and follow the path that is meant for me. That path is bound to be difficult — nothing worth having is easy — but it will lead to a fulfilling and intended destination. I would be moving to an unfamiliar city with no job, no savings, armed only with the conviction that I have a gift I need to nurture and develop and that London is the place I need to be for this. I need to let go my current life and take the plunge.
The messages were simple. The first was an affirmation: "Yes, Derek, you have the goods. I gave them to you. Don't worry about whether you have what it takes or not. You have it. You need to do the work, but trust that I've endowed you with what you need." The second was a testament: "See, Derek, you're not the only one who's been through this. You know you have a calling. And yes, I know that it's scary. Don't be afraid. It's gonna be challenging; entrust yourself to me. I won't let you down, but you have to take that first step — you have to actively choose the path I've anointed yours. I'll be there by your side to make sure you get through."
Getting fired was a bit more than a whisper. But he's been whispering, increasingly louder, for a few years. Sometimes He needs to raise his voice because we're not listening. Getting fired was a kick in the pants. "Get going, you big dolt! Faith is not a passive act. You've been afraid to walk on water, so I'm taking the boat away now. Start walking!"