Do you know yourself? This might sound like a dumb question, but chances are you still have a lot to learn about who you are. At thirty-years-old, I’m still discovering new aspects of my personality all the time. “So, that’s why I react that way when xyz happens. Now I get it! Knowing this would have saved Eric and me so much aggravation and needless arguments if I had understood this about myself years ago!”
Sometimes we don’t want to know more about ourselves. It isn’t fun to face imperfections of our makeup. Because once we are aware of imperfections, then it behooves us to correct them – and that can be hard, and at times painful, work.
Everything we have to learn about ourselves is not unpleasant, though. In fact, it’s great to get to the bottom of why we react in certain ways to certain situations. It’s comforting to understand what makes us happy and what frustrates us. When we have information about how we are wired, we can approach our relationships with wisdom. “Since I know that I have a tendency to get edgy when I’m tired, I know not to talk about important decisions with my husband after 10pm. Because I’ve discovered that I am a fighter, I know to be on guard during conflicts so that I don’t use damaging words when I’m arguing with my loved ones.”
In this series, we will discuss six self-discoveries individuals should make before developing a serious dating relationship.
The word ‘calling’ is used in Christian and non-Christian circles alike. Some use calling to refer to a ministry God has impressed upon someone’s heart (e.g., I feel called into full time pastoral ministry). Others refer to calling as their life’s work (e.g., I’m called to work with children from abusive backgrounds). However, in the studying and coaching Eric has done, he has found the above to not be callings, but rather occupations – or activities people do.
Instead, a calling is the inner core of a person – the word that answers the question, “Who are you?” My calling is to be an empathizer. For most of my life, I didn’t realize empathy was at the core of who I am; however, once Eric helped me learn my calling, I felt peaceful and reassured.
A lot of my decisions have been based on empathy for others. Many times, I’ve worried excessively about others because of my empathy. At times, my accent and mannerisms have naturally changed after spending time with others. After conversing with someone about their problems for a while, my body feels tired. Knowing that I’m an empathizer affects my decision making, my career aspirations, the way I interact with Eric, and my life goals. Since God has given me the calling to empathize with others, the very way I interact with the world flows through that calling.
Why is it important to know your calling before getting into a serious relationship?
Your calling will affect your life goals (which we’ll talk about in a minute) and it’s important to marry someone whose calling complements (not necessarily matches) yours.
Eric is a clarifier. He naturally, with no effort involved, clarifies information and concepts for others. As soon as he senses confusion or a sees a furrowed brow, he swoops in and brings clarity to the situation. He’s a great teacher and a great counselor. When we work with couples together, I have a tendency to feel with them. After hearing their stories, I begin (again, effortlessly) to put myself in their shoes. To feel like I know our clients, I am driven to see the world through their eyes. Because of this, I sometimes see facial expressions or sense needs Eric doesn’t sense.
On the flip side, situations often arise between couples while we’re coaching them, and though I can feel what they’re feeling, I’m not nearly as good at bringing clarity to the topic at hand. I can see that the female is deeply wounded because I’m feeling with her; but, once I make that connection, Eric is great at clarifying for the male why she is deeply wounded and what needs to happen next.
Eric and I could be happily married without knowing our callings; however, since we know them, we are much more confident in our roles. When we work with couples we know our strengths and weaknesses and one is typically stronger where the other is weaker. If you know who you are at your core, it will affect your mate selection process. Your spouse will be your teammate. If you are a strong pitcher you will need a strong catcher.
Knowing our callings has brought a tremendous amount of peace and life-long direction in our efforts together. If you’re interested in learning your calling, consider setting up an appointment with Eric to learn your calling. You’ll be very glad you did.
Recently, I saw a movie called Parental Guidance with my sister-in-law. I liked it so much that I saw it again with a friend in the theater. Chances are I’ll buy it and watch it multiple times in the future. At one point in the movie, Billy Crystal’s character said (roughly translated), “If you ask a man to give up his dream, you’re asking him to give up.”
Our goals are what keep us getting out of bed every day. Without something to pour our lives into, we become depressed. We weren’t created to sit around and let life pass us by. We were given a calling, a personality, and passions/interests. Some of us have passionate personalities and have had the same goals since kindergarten. Others of us have less passionate personalities and our goals have changed with the seasons of life.
Before getting into a serious dating relationship, you’ll want to know in which direction you are heading. You’ll want to know your own goals. Some goals are definite (e.g., My goal is to move to Kansas and open a nursery for exotic flowers) and some goals are directional (e.g., I am passionate about flowers and I want to work in that field). If you know you have a passion for exotic flowers, you may not end up joining your life with someone whose goal is to practice law in a concrete jungle, miles from the nearest pile of dirt. You and your future spouse’s goals don’t have to be exactly the same, but you’ll want to make sure they’re not diametrically opposed. There would be marital discord between an animal rights activist and a slaughterhouse manager.
While you’re in the new, exhilarating stage of a relationship, it may not seem terribly important that you and your honey share common life goals (e.g.. where to live, the type of ministries to pursue, whether or not to have kids, the lifestyle you want to achieve, etc.), but once this exciting person becomes your life partner, you’re going to want him or her to do what partners do. You’re going to want him or her geared up for game day. Suddenly, it will matter very much if she cares about sports, if he wants to do foster care or adopt, or if she wants to go out on the mission’s field.
Your life goals will drive you in a certain direction. You need to know where you’re heading so you can decide the kind of passenger you need, and so any potential passengers can decide if you’re both heading in the same direction.
Your innate calling is something with which you were born and life goals don’t evaporate overnight. Your calling and goals will always be at the core of your existence. A mate who is heading down an opposite path (or is heading down no path at all) will be a constant source of frustration. One or both of you will feel resentful because the other is pulling in a different direction (or one of you is continually dragging the other). “Aren’t you supposed to be helping me realize my dream? How am I supposed to help you? I don’t know anything about exotic flowers!”
So, before pursuing a serious relationship, we strongly urge you to discover your calling and write down your life goals. This will help you be more intentional in your dating efforts and it will help those whom you date to know where you stand and what to expect if the relationship progresses to marriage.
Again, if you are interested in learning your calling, please visit our Learn Your Calling page and contact us to schedule a session!
What are your calling and life goals?