Writing with my left hand

Do you know what your calling is? It is notoriously difficult to discern one’s calling, which is to say, ‘how do I know what God wants me to do with my life?

There’s the kind of calling which is “Calling-with-a-Capital C’. This ‘Capital-C-Calling’ is the kind that happened in the Old Testament, the kind that most of us hanker after because it’s reassuringly supernatural. The formula is thus: an angel shows up (or a clear prophecy is given); there is due protest that they’re not articulate enough (Moses), not important enough (Gideon) or just that they don’t want to do it (Jonah). They then do the job, because even though they’re weak, God equips them.

Then there’s the other understanding of how you find your ‘Capital-C-Calling’ which is seen more in the New Testament. This is serving according to the gifts God has given you (Rom 12:6-8): ‘if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then encourage’, and so on.

At theological college,  people seemed to split into two groups, depending on whether they appealed to the Old Testament or New Testament understanding of ‘Calling’. One set of people were keen to emphasise how unsuited they were to Christian ministry, explaining that that’s how they knew that God had called them. (In actual fact, most were very well-suited to Christian ministry).  They saw their calling in the same pattern of this Old Testament-style ‘Capital-C-Calling’.

Conversely, there were also some in theological college who were keen to emphasise just how gifted they were and how well-suited they were to ministry. This caused some consternation to the ‘I know I’m called because I’ve fought God about this’ camp, but actually both sides were just using their biblical understanding to justify their sense of calling. And both sides felt a strong calling to ministry, though they expressed it in different ways.

I have never had a voice from the sky or prophetic word, though that would have been nice. However, along the lines of the ‘New Testament understanding’ of calling, I have felt very strongly called to full-time Christian ministry. This is because I saw the need for it, people said I was good at it, I wanted to serve God and perhaps most of all – I LOVED it! I loved studying and teaching the Bible, I loved answering people’s objections to Christianity, I loved listening to people who were going through hard times and offering them Biblical perspectives.

And that was the case for the last decade – I was in the privileged position of getting paid for doing what I loved most; working for a church and co-leading a theological training course, alongside my husband.

Left Hand Writing 9.6.90

But here’s the thing. In the last year or so that has changed. A positive change (my baby being born) and a negative change (major health issues) have resulted in me being almost entirely housebound and having to significantly limit the time I spend talking to people, writing or reading.

For the past year and a half, I have spent the majority of my time on my own, at home, looking after my baby for as much of the day that I am well enough to. Although I dearly love my baby and am profoundly grateful for the chance to be a Mum, I never felt ‘Called’ to be a stay-at-home Mum.

I am an extrovert; I feel energised and alive by being around lots of people – but I now find myself in a situation where I am alone much of the time. I am an active person and love running – but now I find myself unable to walk more than a few paces. I love having dinner parties, and offering hospitality; but now talking for more than a couple of hours exhausts me. I am a planner and strategic thinker; and now can only make plans for a few days or so ahead of time.

I feel like I’m not doing what i’m supposed to be doing. I am a right-handed person. This way of being feels like ‘writing with my left hand’. It does not come naturally. It is hard, it takes much more effort. It is frustrating and wobbly and shaky. It does not look very good. I could do much better with my right hand.

I feel like God’s got it wrong. He should know that this is not the most efficient use of my time. He should know that I could be much more useful to Him and His Kingdom as a healthy person, able to use my gifts for His glory.

Nevertheless, this is what God has called me to do. For today, I am called to get up, change nappies, read fairy tales, do relaxation exercises, lie in bed. I know this, not because I have had an angelic message, and not because it is something I am particularly gifted in, but becuase He is Sovereign and this is the situation He has put me in.

I suspect that this is the case for most people; that the life they lead is not necessarily the life they feel Called to. Wonderfully sometimes we do find ourselves in a position where our careers and family situation fit perfectly with our gifts, passion, personality – but this is quite rare, and God is quite able to work out His purposes without this. This is not God’s ‘Calling-with-a-Capital-C’, but it is still God’s calling. It is not what we think God wants us to do with our lives, but it is what He is actively doing with our lives.

I must not make such an idol of my ‘Calling-with-a-Capital-C’ that I miss my actual calling; what God has asked of me here and now. For now, He has called me to an existence of left-handed writing. I want to be obedient, and I dare to hope to be joyful in it.

Over to you:

  • Do you think you have a ‘Calling’? How do you go about discerning such a call?
  • To what extent does your life feel like ‘left-handed writing’?

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31 Responses to Writing with my left hand

  1. Cee Gee 5th March, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    Dear Tanya – You, your circumstances, your book, your blog…this blog…they are all an answer to my prayer, pleading, demanding, cajoling, insisting God to tell me what my circumstance and situation was all about. Hallelujah for you and your service. I actually have to write with my left-hand as I had a near fatal illness and now my ‘beautiful’ handwriting is gone. I am at the place of making the changes I am experiences a journey of intrigue however I am the ‘please give me a tangible response’ prayer requester. It has taken me some time and your blog et al has solidified my direction. Your courage is engagingly refreshing, your strength mind-blowingly energising. ‘Thank you’ is never enough however from my soul I say it loud and clear. Thank you for being Amber’s friend because I found you through her. Be blessed, energised, reflective and forward looking. Jesus is on His way. Maranatha! God bless you Tanya.

  2. Holly 5th October, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    I am slowly getting caught up on your blog. I discovered it earlier this year. Before I became sick many years ago, I had read a book and felt very moved to pray something written there and to mean it. Meaning ut was quite tricky. The idea was to go to God with open hands – that you would have a spirit of accepting whatever God chose to put in your hands and also whatever God chose to take out. It was a pretty momentous time for me. Soon after my life would change so dramatically because of ME. I guess what I am saying is maybe that is my calling. To have that spirit of open hands.

    • Tanya 6th October, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      Oh wow. This is so poignant and beautiful. To have the spirit of open hands. YES.

  3. Stephanie 28th January, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    I had a ‘Calling’ and lived it for 18 years. I knew that time in my life would end, but I erroneously assumed I’d be given a new Calling to replace it. Instead, I’m in a Left-Handed phase. It’s a vulnerable place to be, but maybe that’s the point. My tendency is to always look for my sense of worth and purpose in what I do, but God is forever reminding me that my worth lies in Him alone. A difficult CFS flare these past two years has significantly reduced my ability to ‘do’ and I don’t really know if and when I will return to my previous ‘normal’. I, too, have felt that “God has it wrong” – but no, this is what He’s asking of me now. I am humbled that you are dealing with your limitations with such grace. I find the isolation difficult as an introvert; the fact that you are an extrovert astounds me.

    • Tanya 2nd February, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing your left-handed story! It’s so hard to get a good perspective on the ‘doing’ stuff, isn’t it? On the one had, we don’t want to put our identity in it. On the other, it is a real gift to be able to be creative, and purposeful with our lives. Thinking of you as you navigate this new world you find yourself in. Much love.

  4. Anita @ Dreaming Beneath the Spires 13th January, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Tanya, I’ve been through something v. similar but with a spirit of worry, anxiety, tension, anger, and bitterness that I was not able to write.
    And then, I laid the writing down, and it was returned to me after some years, but I felt it was no longer mine, but Christ’s, and was quite relaxed about it.
    I think that period to some extent broke my ambition, self-will and pride, and now makes the gift something he can use.
    Though no doubt, I might have to go through more cycles of brokenness/blessing if I forget the lessons from the period of being grounded.
    Our characters are the most precious things we can offer God, and Wow, you are in a theological college for character and holiness. Don’t skive lessons–as I did, when I was in a similar college–and God will return your hopes for ministry and working with the word to you abundantly, in his time.
    Hugs and blessings, Anita

    • Tanya 13th January, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks Anita; I love reading your blog. Just to clarify – I’m not currently in theological college; I was there a few years ago. I’d like to say that I made great progress with my character and holiness while I was there, but I fear that wouldn’t be true! It’s great to hear your story and how God used that period of brokenness. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Cat 11th January, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    So glad you are blogging Tanya!! Looking forward to what the next year will hold for this blog 🙂

    I enjoyed reading your first blog post. Things don’t always turn out as you expect do they? I wonder sometimes whether we get so caught up in thinking about our “calling” that we miss just enjoying and living for Jesus where we are at right now? Could we get so drawn into the idea that we are destined for greatness in terms of what the world or even the christian subculture deems as great (great preacher, great evangelist, great worship leader etc) instead of in some sense getting on with that we were called to: Love the Lord and Love your neighbour.
    Plus, in the west we love individualism… maybe a calling is more in the sense of “we” or “us”… what the church is called to. And thus we sow into that calling instead of thinking always about our own personal, individual, I need to have a calling or I am not a True Christian!!…. ?
    Just some thoughts…

    • Tanya 13th January, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      hi Cat – thanks for the comment! It’s nice for a newbie blogger like me to receive encouragement. You’re right, I’m sure that there is a great temptation to get caught up into a Christian subculture competitive spirit! It’s right that in the New Testament, calling is spoken of more in terms of community than individual, and more in terms of character than career, and that’s important to remember.

      I’d be really interested to know how you see your calling. What made you decide to go into Christian ministry rather than living for Jesus in another sphere?

  6. Marcus 10th January, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    Welcome to the blogosphere Tanya! It’s about time you showed up here. Look forward to lots of God-glorifying, thought provoking Tanya-stuff!

    • Tanya 10th January, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks Marcus! (though maybe I should quit whilst I’m ahead…?!)Thanks so much for your encouragement – it means a lot.

  7. GayleO 9th January, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Tanya, this is a great article. It resonates so much with us too – the several circumstances that we’ve been through over recent years (and you know them all..!) have all included questions and confusion over what has been happening, all apparently contrary to how we expected things to be, and for Peter particularly difficult regarding his strong sense of ‘calling’ but God allowing him to exit the church (for however long that is.. might be indefinite, might be temporary..) and he not being able to serve God in the way that he felt was his primary gifting and calling. But you’re right, God is sovereign, He is in control and permits/ordains certain events and circumstances in our lives, and we have to surrender to them, surrender to Him, and continue to trust and serve and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength through those circumstances. Human nature is always to find a reason, to find meaning and purpose to bad situations, but sometimes that isn’t always immediately forthcoming and we must press on and run the race even when we have little understanding of the ‘why’. One of my favourite verses from the Bible is in Joel: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” – and even if this life is hard, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ and the promise is greater than the present suffering. Lots of love, xx

    • Tanya 10th January, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Thank you so much – yes, I think you’re right to say that it’s our human instinct to find a reason why. I love that verse from Joel – thanks for the reminder!

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