Life is an accumulation of becomings, all of them important, none of them complete. –Joan Chittister
I admit it. The hope of meeting and marrying a great guy was my primary motivation for attending college. My plan met with success and after 33 years of wedded bliss, he’s still the one. It’s a happily-ever-after story.
I guess I did learn a few things in college, besides the fact that Alpha Phi Omega frat parties are among the best of places to meet marriage-eligible men. One lesson forever etched in my memory is that of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His theory of motivation suggests that at any given time in life, a certain need dominates an individual’s motivation. The most basic level of needs must be met before a person will desire the higher level needs. Maslow identified the pattern that human motivations generally move through as (1) Physiological, (2) Safety, (3) Love/Belonging, (4) Esteem, and (5) Self-Actualization. Undoubtedly, my desire to establish a home and family life upon entering college was fueled by my dysfunctional family of origin.
Six years into marriage, I exited the professional path to journey on the road marked parenting. There, I experienced the thrill of nurturing a very inquisitive boy, then giving him wings to fly successfully onto his chosen path. I treasure my family life. It has been a good ride for me.
I’m currently reading, Called to Question, a spiritual memoir by Joan Chittister. Throughout the book, I can repeatedly hear the heart’s cry of a woman who gave up husband, children and family life to marry God and serve her church as a Benedictine nun. The author chose to place obedience to an institution before all other self-interests in life, to lock up her freedom as a human being for the sake of others. At some point, she came to question this choice.
As a young woman, thoughts of living in a convent amongst a community of sisters would have sounded the death toll for me. It would have meant the end of all my dreams and desires. Or, so I thought at the time. Subsequent to finding my knight-in-shining-armor and during the wildly joyful season of parenting my little professor, I continued on in education to earn a master’s degree. I then went on to hold several teaching, leadership and management positions. I always believed I could have achieved more in my career had I not placed a high priority on family life. And once empty-nested, I began to question, what if? What if I had put more effort into reaching for the corporate ceiling? What if I had never married? Never had a child?
We are called to question. We may wonder whether we should have taken another road, better used our ability here or there. Perhaps, we think someone else made the best choice. When we begin to question our chosen path, however, it probably means the one we are currently traveling has helped us to meet a level of human need and God is preparing us to step onto the next path, a new path to meet a new need.
Psalm 16:11 assures us that God will take us where we need to go to accomplish his intended aim for us. The All Knowing will use our human needs to drive our decisions and God will make something good of them. We can remain confident that our lives will have the right ending because God is with us, leading us, on each of our paths. One day, all of our joys and struggles will receive their proper meanings. And, we will have the peace of knowing that on our way to heaven, we lived the lives we were meant to live.
What is your deepest point of need? Can you see how God can use your current path to meet that need? Are you questioning your current path? Feeling motivation to move on?