Monday, July 23, 2012

The Calling

Today is what I like to call "The Calling". A calling is when one has a sudden impulse to follow a particular career or job. Today was when I truly realized my "future" is happening pretty much right now, but it's also always changing. From the lessons I've learned today in Lived Religion, to the College Search Counseling Session during free time, and to the Personal Etiquette Workshop after dinner, I've realized there is no more time to wait or stall for my future. My future is now.

What can I say about class today? It was probably the best class experience at VSA I've had so far. The first half of class was devoted to learning about the Christian concepts of the Afterlife and the Devil. These concepts are very complicated, and they weren't just come up with all at once. These concepts were developed over hundreds and even thousands of years. I find it very interesting how little the New Testament refers to "Hell" terms compared to how many times it mentions "Heaven" terms. It's also interesting how Jews believe God is personal, conventional, and changes his decisions, but Christians believe God is never changing even though there is plenty of evidence in the Scriptures that God does change his mind a lot. Also, most angels don't look like us, and they have these crazy-looking eyeballs all over them. We would all probably be very scared of one if we ever encountered an angel. I don't think this class is making me doubt my faith, but it has certainly made me even more open to other religions and their beliefs and practices than I was before. I was never a fan of believing everything religion tells me, and I'm glad I didn't, because this class really has had me thinking about the contradictions in certain beliefs--especially of Christianity.

The second half of class was "The Calling". We had four religious leader guests from four different denominations and/or religions; there was a Catholic priest that we've met before, a pastor from Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a female reverend from another denomination of Christianity, and of course, the Imam from the Islamic Center of Nashville. All four of these religious leaders came and joined our "discussion circle", pretty much telling us their story of how and why they became a religious leader in their religion. All of their stories were amazing. All of our guests were in their late 20s or early 30s, and it was interesting to see that they became religious leaders at such a young age. Many of them started at the age of seventeen as official religious leaders, and they were already preaching. I just can't believe they became religious leaders at such a young age. I'm not sure if I would ever get that calling when I turn seventeen (in October).

All of the religious leaders in our panel discussion agreed that their main purposes in becoming a religious leader are to serve others, because that's what made them the happiest. For me, serving others makes me very happy too. Perhaps one day, I'll have a career in community service or religious leadership?

They gave us very helpful advice in our futures and careers; they said that the challenge in life isn't about achieving success but keeping success. We are constantly evolving as humans. They told us that we should never worry about the payroll in a job, because a job for money is destined to fail for you. The big question they told us to ask ourselves is, "What would you do for free?" Whatever makes you come alive is something that you should pursue. The three kinds of people that you need in your life, Rev. Faison tells us, is a pathfinder, a peer, and a pupil. This means you need someone who can mentor you along your journey, a friend who's on a similar road as you, and someone that you can teach and mentor your own experiences to. This was truly great advice, because we always thinking about a mentor and sometimes a peer who's in a similar situation as you, but we never think about needing someone that we can teach and mentor.

One thing is for certain about these religious leaders' callings, they didn't happen in a blink in of an eye. Their yearning to become a religious leader was developed and changed over time. In fact, they're still changing. And they kept reminding us that our calling and purpose in life is always developing--that you just have to go with what feels right and be confident in it.

I found some of the religious leaders' biggest fears to be intriguing. Rev. Sigmon, a lady reverend in the Christian faith, said that her biggest fear was failure--especially in something that she loves, such as preaching. Rev. Faison, the pastor from Watson Grove, said that his biggest fear is that his kids don't want God and don't love God--that he was so caught up in preaching to the public that he forgot his own kids in the process. Imam Mohamed's biggest fear is to walk away and be "free", that he could just forget about everyone around him. All these fears were very insightful, and honestly, they were very selfless fears to me. For example, "normal" people would say that their worst fear was the dark, spiders, or heights--death. But, of course, these guys obviously aren't "normal" people. We need more religious leaders in this world who are as selfless, loving, and approachable as our guests today. I can't believe I won't be able to see Imam Mohamed and his charismatic self for a very long time; it makes me a little sad.

In Study Hall, we did something very different. Our assignment was to describe each of our classmates in a few words or sentences in order to perhaps help them find their "calling". I never did something like this in any of my classes before. Once we were done describing our fellow peers, we got in a circle and described one person at a time with everyone's descriptions about them. I can tell you straight-up that this class is a very genuine and loving one. I'm glad my classmates are who they are. They're all so unique in their own way, and I hope they felt what I felt about them in my descriptions about them. I'm going to miss them all! I didn't get to hear my descriptions yet, and I'm curious to see what my classmates think of me. Well, I'll let you know tomorrow what they think.

My extra hour of free-time was saved for the College Search Counseling Seminar. It wasn't extremely helpful, but I still received plenty of tips, especially about narrowing down my college search. I think the best piece of advice I received in this seminar was that there are many places that can fit me. Well, I guess it wasn't as much of a piece of advice as it was of a reminder to me. It was a reminder to me that I shouldn't care what others think which school I'm going to or if I'm not "good enough" for a school and was not accepted to there, because honestly--as I learned from my visit at Duke--it really is you who makes your experience in college worthwhile. And I know that whatever school I decide to go to, I'll be just fine and still be successful in order to find that "calling".

The Personal Etiquette Workshop after dinner was another reminder of my "calling" and a reminder that adulthood for me is now. It is not when I turn eighteen; it is now. From my entering in the ILC, I am now an adult.  Soon, I will have to be applying for a job, and this is what the workshop was all about. It was useful, but I thought this workshop was helping us to find what our dream job should be. I was surprised to know during the icebreaker/introduction of the students attending the workshop that many of these students already have their career interest set, and they pretty much know what they want to do already. I guess this is what makes me different from the students here, and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. I just don't want to have one career for the rest of my life; it sounds so boring. This sounds silly, but there is a little truth in it, I would love to have my own talk show. To just socialize, meet all these interesting people from around the world, to travel, and to perhaps even do community service work, being a talk show host wouldn't be half-bad. I'd like to replace Dave Letterman, perhaps, from the Tonight Show.

What can I say; I learned and experienced a lot today. My only regret about today was that I didn't take any pictures. Man, and there's only three more days of class? Do I have to leave already? I guess so. Well, until then, good night.

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