The work that makes more of you

The work that makes more of you

I’ve been re-reading a favorite book: Evensong, by Gail Godwin. It’s a lovely book, slow and meditative–perfect for fans of Gilead or Jayber Crow–and at its heart it the question of vocation.

I’ve read the book before, more than once. But Godwin’s definition of calling–in the mouth of her character–is so lovely it stops me in my tracks every time: “Something’s one’s vocation if it keeps making more of you.”

Have I found the work that makes more of me?

I haven’t read Evensong, or Adrian’s definition of vocation, since I started writing again. But oh, they ring true. I write because when I do, I can feel it making more of me, even if I still feel pretentious calling it my “vocation.”

In Evensong, Godwin peers at marriage through the same lens. A much-older Adrian yearns to marry the much younger Margaret, but is terrified that by doing so, he’d forever narrow her options. He doesn’t want her ties to him–practically an old man!–to limit her pursuit of her calling.

But Margaret asks him, “Why shouldn’t our having each other make more of us both?”

I love the way that question frames marriage.

It’s a slow, snowy morning here. The kind that invites contemplation, and a second cup of coffee. And so I ask–

Have you found the work that makes more of you? And the relationships that make you feel bigger, instead of depleted?ย 

Finding the work that makes more of you: on vocation, and calling, and marriage

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32 comments

  1. Ginger says:

    I haven’t quite figured out how this applies to my “vocation,” but as it affects every area of life, I’ll share that I had an epiphany recently that I feel most alive, most like myself, when I’m learning.

    Probably not earth shaking, but from faith, to reading, to figuring out how to better keep our home running smoothly — everything is affected by learning.

    • Anne says:

      Such a great revelation. (I’m new to the enneagram, but does that make you a 5? There’s food for thought just in case you’re a personality geek liek me. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

      • Ginger says:

        I probably would be a 5, if I wasn’t apparently freaked out for safety — I’m a 6. I had no idea I subconsciously valued security quite so highly.

        I’m a bit of a personality geek (majored in Educational psychology, and my favorite class was my assessments class, where we literally took just about every popular personality test on ourselves — each week, a new test, a new revelation about ourselves, with the philosophy that if we’re going to be doing these on other people, we’d better know ourselves and the strengths/limitations of each test). The enneagram is new to me until reading your blog.

  2. Jessica says:

    Oh, that is lovely. I’ve never read Evensong. I’m not sure I have found a vocation that makes the most of me but I most certainly have found relationships that make me feel bigger than myself.

  3. Amy says:

    My day job is something I’m good at, can be proud of at times, but I would not say it makes me feel bigger. With a young family, though, the benefits keep me at it.

  4. Jo says:

    I’m quite new to my vocation (first year teacher), and so some days it really doesn’t feel like it is making more of me. But on the days it does, when kids just click, and I get to share my heart on an issue, or wonder at the world, then it really does feel like it is making more of me. And that IS a wonderful feeling

    • As a former teacher (6 years teaching high school history), I just wanted to say keep going! ๐Ÿ™‚ That first year can be so crazy, but you’re more than halfway through! My guess (and hope) is that you’ll have lots more of those moments you mentioned next year.

  5. Aime says:

    I think I get scared to look at these questions sometimes because I’m afraid that there is going to be a disconnect between what I love doing and what I am good/successful at doing. But then again, if I’m honest about it, regardless of my financial success (my normal measuring stick) at what I love, it makes me feel productive and satisfied doing it.

  6. Jeannie says:

    This is a GREAT post — so much to ponder. Things that make “more of me” include
    – singing (though that’s not really my work)
    – writing fiction (those fleeting and all-too-rare “in the zone” times)
    – when I’m able to negotiate a difficult situation with a student and end up with him/her feeling heard, understood, and helped. (I sometimes joke to my husband, “Well, I just successfully negotiated another diplomatic minefield; I hope my Nobel Peace Prize is in the mail.”)

    You also asked about relationships that have this effect, and I have a few of those too. This past fall I started walking every Tues. morning with a friend and our discussions of “life and literature” have been tremendously feeding times. I treasure that.

  7. Our marriage DEFINITELY makes more of us both, even if it isn’t always comfortable becoming more. ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel the same way about writing as you do, too. Even if I squirm at calling myself a writer.

    Have a great week!

  8. Katie says:

    My husband and I were just talking about this over the weekend. He is and always has been passionate about the study of astronomy and physics. He reads about new discoveries in physics all the time and talks and talks and talks about them. It makes him so happy. He was a physics major in college, but ending up choosing to go into wind energy and meteorology instead, which he likes well enough. He’s happy at his job, but I always wonder what it would be like for him to work where his passions so obviously are.

  9. Ailsa says:

    Thanks for this! I discovered your blog in the Autumn and I’m so glad I did! Your posts are always so thought-provoking and seem to articulate things I’ve been thinking about recently. My vocation as a mother and my relationship with my husband without a doubt make ‘more’ of me, and I’m so grateful for them. Keep writing, you are so good at it ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Amy E Patton says:

    Thanks for sharing this. It fits right in with a study I am doing on marriage. I am thinking through am I making more of my husband or do I tear him down…. good food for thought. I look forward to reading this book.

  11. Tim says:

    Being a husband and parent makes more of me, Anne. I think my career does too; at least is feels like a job that fits me like a nice set of comfortable clothes (or do all black muumuus feel that way?).

    Tim

  12. I am printing that quote and posting it on my bathroom mirror.

    Doing ministry full-time in a new church plant – made more of me! It has been 7 years since I quit working at the church.

    Helping others discover the love and joy and hope of Jesus is one of the deepest longings of my heart that always makes more of me.

  13. 'Becca says:

    I feel that the work I do through my church is what most makes more of me. I recently served a term on the vestry, but even the more humble things I normally do, mostly involving making and serving food, makes me feel like a harmonious part of something much bigger than myself. I see this effect in my son’s helping at church, too.

    My day job, managing data for a research study about which young men become criminals, makes more of me in a slower and less obvious way. Day to day, it’s all about numbers and details and is fairly lonely work in front of a computer. But it’s led me to feel a deep empathy for people in tough circumstances, to be less fearful about crime, and to feel that in the long run I’m helping our society to understand how to raise better men.

  14. I like the marriage quote, too–that’s just how I think a marriage should work. ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually think the work of marriage and parenthood DOES make more of me, though it’s not always easy or comfortable. I feel the same way about writing and creating.

  15. Rebekah says:

    This resonates so much with me as something I have been wrestling with recently- I think the career I have found is that or could be that- but I have these other dreams or ideas of what I wanted my life to look like and even remembering times of my life where I felt more alive or more me, that I still long for. I can even almost see the dreams and the current career (innkeeper) working together- but do not entirely see how they will come together. I continually wonder if I need to step away from this vocation to pursue those dreams. But then I also know that this stage in my career could be training or preparing me for the vocation that truly makes more of me.

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  17. Kelly says:

    I don’t think I quite understand the “more of me” phrase. Something that when I do it, I feel energized? Valued? Point me in the right direction,please.

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