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Navigating Life Transitions & Following a Calling

While there are many reasons folks seek out spiritual direction or spiritual guidance (terms I use interchangeably), it’s often because they’re going through a life transition and/or trying to follow a calling.

peering into mountain mists as stream flows past - Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

They might be going through a change in seasons or stages of life, facing a weighty decision, or coping with a collapse of the life they’ve known. They sense this transition has a spiritual dimension to it – though just what it is may remain elusive – and they’re trying to listen for the quiet voice of a calling. Conversely, they may already have an inkling of the direction Spirit or their Soul is calling them, but they’re unsure or hesitant about what that means as far as lifestyle changes. It’s even possible that neither the calling nor the transition have fully taken shape, or that both have but are still presenting challenges. Whatever the case, there’s a need to align spiritual longings with tangible transformation.

When the life transition feels clear, but the calling does not

Some big changes we choose – like career/retirement, community, education, marriage/partnership, parenthood, and place – while others are thrust upon us – like losing any of the above, loss of a loved one, aging, health challenges, or a wholesale falling apart of the life we’ve known. In any transition there can be a lot to process, especially in the latter situations, where there is significant grief involved. Whatever the case, if we are practicing our best listening, we can get the sense that underneath it all, Spirit or our Soul is speaking to us via the events of the transition.

peering toward bend in a river among mist trees - Wenatchee River, Leavenworth, Washington

You know somehow that there’s an important message for you in all of it, maybe even something concerning your true identity and gifts. You might feel an inexplicable curiosity, nervous excitement, or sense of destiny or inevitability as you move through the changes. This is the experience of feeling a calling. When you feel a calling, it often seems like your life is drawing you toward something – because it is: an impulse for adventure, discovery, or growth; a rising to your higher purpose, creativity, or wisdom; a settling into rest, healing, or home.

Since Spirit and our Souls are always speaking to us, we get subtle versions of these feelings all the time. But the busyness of life can crowd them out, and even under the best conditions it can be difficult to tease out the true message from the rest of our experience. That’s why we have to give these callings the space they need to be thoroughly felt and heard and heeded. This is where spiritual guidance can come in.

When the calling feels clear, but the life transition does not

It’s possible you may already have a sense of what you’ve been called to, but what to do with that calling in terms of concrete action is a different story. You might feel like your calling is controversial, and that if you pursued it, you’d be met with criticism or perplexity from people you care about. This is common, for example, when falling in love with a person, place, life-path, or belief system that defies the expectations of other loved ones.

from the mainland, peering toward distant mountain island shrouded in cloud - Whidbey Island, Puget Sound, USA

Alternatively, you might also feel like your calling is strong but nebulous and vague, and you’re not sure how to bring it to fruition. This is common, for example, in the early stages of artistic or entrepreneurial inspiration.

In any case, you’re puzzling over how the rubber will meet the road. Hopefully you’re asking questions like: What resources, allies, mentors, and educational experiences do you need to move forward? What fears and obstacles might get in the way? We have to give these questions the space they need to be thoroughly asked and deliberated and answered. This is where spiritual guidance can come in.

When both calling and life transition feel either clear or unclear

Sometimes you know where you’re being called and what you need to do about it, but you need support through the trials and tribulations for the journey. Or sometimes you know in your heart that you need some kind of change, but just what kind remains stubbornly fuzzy. In either of these cases we need to attend to all the above – ensuring plenty of space for callings and questions! This too is where spiritual guidance can come in.

Image credits: #2, #3 - Devin Bard



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