It’s a question I often hear asked of my children.
“Probably a landscaper and a builder,” answers my son (age 7). We’ll call him “B.”
“An artist and a cement truck driver,” is my daughter (age 5), ” E’s” answer.
I often wonder if adults ask children this question because they’re trying to get some new ideas for themselves.
I remember back to Career Day in second grade. Each student was assigned a career to research and present to the class. We had to interview people with this particular job, shadow them for a while, draw pictures, etc. I remember being quite upset that we didn’t get to choose which career we could present. I was assigned the job of Floral Arranger. Seriously? I was outraged. This was a far cry from the Dolphin Trainer I longed to be. I mean, what better excuse to go to Sea World than to interview a real live dolphin trainer? But, no. I visited a florist with my mom, made a flower arrangement to take to school (probably some dandelions and Queen Anne’s Lace), and called it a day.
Over the years, my career aspirations changed, including: heart surgeon, principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic, teacher, author, veterinarian, psychologist, and RN to name a few.
When I entered college in 2001 I quickly changed majors from nursing to elementary education. After graduating I taught fourth grade for a few years until my son was born. I welcomed the changing of career hats as I hung up the teacher hat and wore (and still wear) the Mommy hat proudly. Along came little girl E, and things were going pretty well. I had even begun to play my harp for weddings and other events, something I had always wanted to do but never made the time (or felt like I was good enough?) to do. Things were going swimmingly.
Fast forward to today. The kids are both in school. Seven years have gone by. I’ve made countless paper bag puppets, read thousands of children’s books, and prayed bad dreams away for quite some time. And I would never take any of it back. Not in a million years. But something else happened during this time. I don’t know how or when it happened, but I am struggling to find out who I am. There is a yearning for something more.
I know that I am a child of God. I know that my identity does not rest in what I do, but in what Jesus did for me. I know this in my heart. It is not the relationship with my Heavenly Father that is in question here. Yet children are always growing–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As God’s child I pray that I grow to look more like Jesus every day. Right now I sense a season of mindfulness — discernment into a deeper calling as part of this growth. This is not an “all-about-me-navel-gazing-finding-myself” kind of journey. No. I think I hear the voice of the Shepherd speaking to this little sheep, and I am straining my ears to hear more clearly.
So the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question for me has become, “If you could do anything, what would it be?”
You really want to know? Promise you won’t laugh? If I could do anything, it would be this:
I want to play music for people who are hurting. The homeless. The cancer ward. The addicts. The elderly who are forgotten in a nursing home. The orphans and refugees who are displaced all over the world from wars and famines. I want to awaken them to the presence of God in their lives, to pray healing over them, and then to get out of the way to let the Holy Spirit restore them. I want to do this because this is what God did for me.
Sounds idealistic? Unrealistic? I know. But it’s true.
So there you have it. What about you? If you could do anything, what would it be?
“The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” ~~ Frederick Buechner