An Obvious Calling

As a natural performer from age 3, I’ve always loved the spotlight. It was never a problem to sing, dance, or act – spouting lines and lyrics from the artists who created them. But public speaking? That was a big bag of NOPES. As I got older and had to do more speaking for school, people scratched their heads over my dramatic complaints. “But you can sing in front of thousands! What’s the difference?” It made sense to me, of course.

Singing covers was a form of communicating someone else’s vulnerability. Public speaking was communicating my own.

“Cover bands don’t change the world. Don’t be a cover band. You need to find your unique voice if you want to thrive.”

– Todd Henry, Accidental Creative

I never would’ve thought life would be lending me the very same opportunities that used to be what I called my #1 fear, but here we are.

In the summer of 2022, I received an email from my alma mater: “You were identified as a servant leader with outstanding character and radical integrity; we believe you would be an amazing mentor for students who feel that their purpose might align with your area of work.”

Having started my own work in combating perfectionism and leaning into who I’m becoming versus what I’m achieving, I was intrigued. You mean… Belmont University has a Purpose Mentorship program for college students who’re interested in this very same thing? I wish they’d had this when I was a freshman in 1999!

Four months later, I was meeting with my three new mentees — two college seniors and a junior; one a Commercial Music major and voice principal, one a Musical Theatre major, and one a Creative Studies major who’s interested in becoming a Creative Director. No doubt, these ladies were hand-picked for me.

The four of us have been meeting since last fall and having conversations about character, community, and redefining what CAREER means for them as they embark on a new chapter into adulthood.

Now that we’re about halfway through the program, I’ve been asked to speak on an alumni panel about purpose and how we use it in our vocations. I accepted, despite the many moments where I think, “How can I speak on this? I’m not even sure I know what my purpose is!” Imposter syndrome is real.

The truth is purpose didn’t really click with me until 2020. And now, it has nothing to do with my work… but it can inform it.

As I was having some quiet time of reading and writing this morning, I remembered The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. For all those times I wracked my brain and looked for tangible signs of what my calling should be, there it was in the red text of verses 13-16:

I am called to be salt and light.

The light part feels obvious—encouragement, lifting others up, reflecting back parts of them that already shine, even giving others a chance in the spotlight.

But salt, though? Salt is a little more confusing.

In the Bible, salt comes up in stories to signify new beginnings and a separation from the past. Salt is healing and purifying. Salt preserves. Salt is an amplifier, magnifying fragrance and flavor.

Margaret Feinberg, author of Taste and See (a favorite book that I’ve written about before), says:

“As salt of the earth, we are agents of flavoring. Our purpose is to bring the taste of heaven to earth wherever we go. Salt improves flavors as it seasons. In low concentrations, salt suppresses bitterness and enhances sweetness. In higher concentrations, salt reduces sweetness but enhances umami and savory flavors. Just as salt brings out the best in food, so too, Christ brings out the best in us as others experience the flavor of Christ through us.”

—Margaret Feinberg

She goes on to talk about where salt is harvested; how the individual atmospheres of dirt and minerals in salt mines can give each harvest a unique distinction. The metaphor isn’t lost on me. In fact, it’s much like what our circumstances and situations can give to us.

This reminds me of my favorite quote in another favorite book, Get Weird by CJ Casciotta:

“We’re weird because it’s the best way to show others they belong in a world that often tells them they don’t. The second you decide to use your crooked nose, your awkward smile, or your offbeat perspective rather than hide it is the second you’ll find a whole bunch of people who now feel permission to be themselves too.”

—CJ Casciotta, “Get Weird”

How can we use our unique distinctions and attributes to be salt and light to our corners of the world?

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s