What the heck am I going to read to get my life together?

Today I’d like to share two of my favorite books for the young and the “too empowered”–those twentysomethings who are wrestling with vocation, calling, and whether they should move back in with their parents after college.

1. What the Heck Am I Going to Do with My Life? by Margaret Feinberg

With grace and wisdom, Margaret explores passion, talent, abilities, and vocation in God’s Kingdom. This book is practical, readable, and chock-full of nuggets of wisdom.

When I first read it about a year ago, my favorite part of the book was learning I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have it all together. As anti-hipster as it sounds, I’m just going to say that sometimes it is darn good to know that I don’t have a monopoly on self-obsessed neuroses, that I’m not utterly, uniquely screwed up.

As I’ve been re-reading Margaret’s book over the last couple of weeks, I’ve resonated more with her constant call to submit our callings, vocations, and desires to God.

She reminds us,

“The fact that you have a passion for something doesn’t mean that desire is meant to rule you; your passions are always subject to the cross.”

I’ve been learning this the hard way this year, as I’ve felt God saying to me, “Your job at Plant With Purpose is not yours to hold on to. Your passion is not yours to hold on to.”

Margaret writes,

“He designed us to live openhanded lives so that the passions we possess don’t possess us.”

Inviting others to join in the transformational work of Plant With Purpose has been such a passion for me, a joy for me, but if He is calling me elsewhere, I want to be willing to open my hands and follow His lead.

2. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

I love Parker’s views on this topic because he frames our search for vocation as the search to recover our ‘true selves.’

“The figure calling to me all those years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls “true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God’s own image– the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be.

True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one’s peril.”

Ever the intellecter and introspector, I appreciated Parker’s emphasis on self-examination and learning to receive God’s love. 

He writes,

“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”

He also offers a candid, yet hopeful discussion on depression, burnout, and healing, which has been a reality in my life in the lives of many of my close friends. Parker also authored one of my favorite, paradigm-shifting quotes on weakness: 

“We will become better teachers not by trying to fill the potholes in our souls but by knowing them so well that we can avoid falling into them.”

If you’ve been thinking about vocation, calling, and what the heck you’re going to do with your life, I highly recommend joining Margaret and Parker on their journeys to discover God’s call on their lives. They are both well worth the read.

Have you read either of these books? What books or resources on vocation and calling would you recommend?

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4 thoughts on “What the heck am I going to read to get my life together?

  1. girlhowdy says:

    Not so much books about vocation as they are about making your life a work of art are Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big Life and Robert Fritz' Your Life as Art.

  2. Susan Lewis says:

    I read "The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery" last year. It is a small book, but packed with a lot of wisdom and deep thought about the need to really know ourselves in order to deepen our experience of God. We are doing a summer bible study on it!

  3. Aly Lewis says:

    Those sound wonderful! Thank you for the recommendations.

  4. Aly Lewis says:

    I'll check it out. Thank you!

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