When I am working with people who want to figure out their calling (which, you may remember, is different than your job), I will give them an assignment to help them figure out their belief system, because I believe our calling is an expression of our belief system.
Here is the assignment:
Buy a cheap notebook and pen. Carry it everywhere with you for 90 days. Every day, you have to write in it at least once, answering the question, ‘What do I believe today?” Your answer can be bullet points or paragraphs, but you have to answer the question every day. If things come to you multiple times in a day, you can have multiple entries for each day.
This is what you believe about any and everything. It can run the gamut on any given day from spirituality to parenting to Marvel vs. DC comics. The entries “I believe Batman is really about a spoiled rich guy who is stroking his own ego” and ‘I believe Pema Chodron is a brilliant writer” are both equally valid as entries.
If you are at the end of the day and feeling uninspired, writing, “I believe this is a stupid assignment” is totally valid. But it’s important you do it every day, and it’s important you do it over a period of at least 90 days. You want to capture you in different situations, different moods, different seasons, even.
At the end of the 90 days, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit in a quiet place and read the pages. Look for trends. Everyone I have done this with, the answers immediately popped out at them.
I still do this periodically. Here is a sample of various entries I made in an early notebook that pointed me to where I am now. None of this should surprise anyone who knows me, or my vocation.
Note: My examples below tend to be spiritual in nature, but they need not be. The exercise is agnostic – it doesn’t care what you believe, but I guarantee you believe something, and that your vocation is found in that belief system.
What do I believe today?
I believe scripture is best understood in community.
I believe in prayer, but I believe it most effective in community.
I believe we resist community, which is how we know we need it.
I believe God is most perfectly revealed in relationship.
I believe that my relationships reveal not only who I am, but who I want to be.
I believe that how I love “the other” is how I love God.
I believe that any hope this world has for survival, let alone redemption, is going to come about because of our ability to love each other.
I believe we are sustained by love.
I believe that the community is the smallest unit of health, and that to speak of a “healthy individual” is to speak of a contradiction in terms.
I believe all change comes about because of our relationships.
I believe God is love.
I believe community is hard. But not as hard as not having community.
I believe in original selfishness more than I believe in original sin.
I believe an ethic based on “the other” is the single greatest contribution the teachings of Jesus has given the world.
I believe love wins.