Occasionally - very occasionally - one gets an immediate answer to ponderings and prayers. Unfortunately, these too often seem to be precisely not the answer one was hoping for.
I went to bed pondering in the back of my head everything about essentialism and goals and what should really be focusing on, with the slow disposal of items as the backdrop to my thoughts. And then, like the proverbial bolt of lightning, the answer hit the following morning.
The most essential thing I am doing right now is my career.
This is not, as you can imagine, the answer that I was desirous of. For years I have been looking at my career field of the last 20 plus years as an interruption in my true calling, that somehow my real calling was right around the corner. I was only in the wings, waiting for my call to drop what I was currently doing and roll into the task that I was truly appointed for.
That call, however, has never come.
I had pictured that it come as an author or speaker or wise person (past versions of this had me as a performer or pastor or real estate magnate) - my time would come, the call would come in, and I could go in one morning and simply say "I am moving on to something more grand, something more fulfilling".
But it is time to face reality.
After a lifetime of waiting, the single purpose of my life is to serve God (on which all Christians agree) - which in my case means I work well in my job, seeing it as the only job I am likely to have until such time as I do not have it, for the purposes of providing income for my family to enable their activities (including college) and having money to support the various good works of the Church.
That is it.
That said, what then becomes essential is what makes me a better and more valuable employee in that field. In that sense, the path is pretty clear: more study on quality, regulatory, biology, chemistry, and information technology. None of these are my passion, to be sure - but they are needs to happen to move forward in this most essential task.
Everything else? It fits into a much narrower scope and is limited by the time available. And to be perfectly honest, they are the sort of thing to balance out my life, not be the main focus of it.
Am I disappointed? Yes. One likes to believe that one is going on to greater and more important things; it is disappointing to realize that what one has spent one's live trying to move beyond is apparently one's destiny.
But it is as it is. I can either continue to fight and be disappointed and unhappy or simply accept what is and make the best of it.
We hope for our desires. What we more often seem to get is our needs. One can only hope that in God's economy, this will come out for the better.