Lindsey Weishar: Reflect on your own ‘fulfillment story’ of joy, love, direction
My Vocation is Love / Lindsey Weishar
I was recently reminded of the idea that our lives are built upon story. Anyone who’s ever had a conversation knows that the sharing of one story often inspires the sharing of another. It’s how we relate to each other.
When it comes to our faith, we’re encouraged to know and share our (re)conversion story. Other situations may require other facets of this story — our healing journey in a therapy relationship, our road to our current work role in a mentoring relationship.
In a recent meeting with my mentor from the GIVEN Forum (see my June 30, 2021 column), we discussed another kind of story — fulfillment stories.
WHAT IS A FULFILLMENT STORY?
I was introduced to fulfillment stories through a GIVEN Forum talk given by Joshua Miller, founder of Inscape Vocations and a personal vocation coach. Miller shared that “We understand ourselves and others by authentic action” and that fulfillment stories are particular moments of action in which a person “enjoyed doing something and was deeply engaged in it.” He made clear that fulfillment stories aren’t always associated with instances of personal success, but are instead moments of “flow,” times we felt incredibly alive.
An example I’ve recently been reflecting on is a particular time I lectored at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in college. It was for a Mass that included many beloved peers. I was reading 1 Cor. 13 — St. Paul’s reflection on love — and though this is such a well-known chapter of the Bible, in this reading, I felt such love for my peers. Looking back, it seems that the Lord was communicating through me the love he had for those listening.
I’ve further found that lectoring allows me to chew on the Word of God more than I would when reading by myself. There’s something about sharing God’s Word that delights me.
TIMES OF JOY THAT “GIVE OFF SPARKS”
And that delight is one of the keys to a fulfillment story. As the word “fulfillment” implies, these are stories of more than just doing what you’re good at — the element of joy, of being filled, defines these moments. Miller shared that knowing our fulfillment stories helps us better understand where God is calling us and our personal vocation, as well as “the unique contributions you are called to make.”
He also referred to a lovely line from one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ letters: “All things therefore are charged with love, are charged with God and if we knew how to touch them give off sparks and take fire, yield drops and flow, ring and tell of him.”
For some reason, this line reminds me of plucking a string on an instrument. Reflecting upon and telling a fulfillment story is, to me, like plucking a well-tuned string with a knowledge of how the string should sound, and a reverence for its reverberation.
In what Miller terms “pivot moments,” fulfillment stories can help give us direction. Perhaps we’re considering a new job or ministry. Perhaps we’re contemplating a new state of life like marriage or religious life. Being attuned to our fulfillment stories is so good because it helps us to discern how we can be good gifts to those around us.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
I invite you to meditate on your own fulfillment stories in prayer. As you reflect, you might ask yourself the following questions, which I’ve drawn from Joshua Miller’s website (inscapevocations.com):
- Think back . . . [to] an activity you have deeply enjoyed doing and believe you have done well
- What exactly did you do?
- What was so deeply satisfying about it?
A further question you might ask yourself is: “What does this fulfillment story have to say to my life right now?” Perhaps you’re called to lean in to a gift you’ve been given, to notice a particular pattern of joy running through your story, to consider how you might weave this joy into your current work or state of life.
Personally, I’ve found that proclaiming the Word of God through lectoring is connected to my delight in writing and performing poetry. I find both activities to be a way to pray, to share with others words that I hope will nourish, heal, and encourage. The fulfillment story I shared above reminds me that I am called, at least in this present season, to share my voice with others. In moments of fear or low confidence, I can rest in this story, which meets me and speaks this truth: God loves me and wants to collaborate with me to love others.
So dear reader, what moments have you found to be “charged with love,” “charged with God” in your own story? These moments may feel quite ordinary, even mundane, but they are ones that when you hold them again in memory draw sparks.
Lindsey Weishar is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org .