After Oprah’s lengthy goodbye, I debated whether to watch her last episode. But since my daughters and I watched all the shows leading up to the finale, we felt committed.
When I saw her standing on her stage for the last time looking glamorous and regal in her soft pink dress with her matching audience, I softened.
Oprah’s speech was beautiful, inspiring, and delivered with her usual poise and personality. She said, “We are all called. Everybody has a calling and your real job in life is to figure out what it is and get about the business of doing it.”
What is my calling? I wondered. Whatever it is, it’s small and weak when it’s in the same room with Oprah and her big old calling.
Oprah and her team of experts have been telling me for years to uncover my passion, discover my dreams, and live my best life. I’ve taken this advice to heart and read many of Oprah’s recommended self-help books trying to understand my big, hairy purpose in life.
I wrote long, searching journal entries, prayed and pleaded to discover my higher path because surely it was more than the ordinary life I lived every day. I had skills, talents, gifts that needed opportunities for expression and development, but life kept getting in the way.
Once I wrote a long list of things I wanted to do and then thought, “Maybe after I finish running my daughter’s school newspaper club, planning girls’ camp or schlepping to soccer practice and girl scouts, I’ll have time to discover the life that is waiting for me.”
Then I learned an important lesson.
All the things I think are merely distractions and detours in my life ARE my life.
For years I thought that once I raised my kids, I would get back to my life, get back on track, back to pursuing my mega-mission. My life would be bigger, grander than fixing dinners, going to ballgames, and grocery stores, and shopping for prom dresses. Maybe my big, purposeful life would include a book, an exciting job, or oh, why stop there? My own show like Oprah!
But the day-to-day demands of my life kept getting in the way of my calling, and pushing me off track.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I spent months in a chemo-induced stupor, and had plenty of time to wonder about life’s purpose. Is this really what you want my life to be? I asked God. Surely he did not intend my life to just be a cancer battle.
All I knew was that, it was my life.
Most of us are not going to discover a grandiose mission that allows us to feed and educate nations or give cars away to brightly colored audiences. And if we keep looking beyond the mark of where we really are in life, we will miss the real lessons that God is sending our way through the ordinary day-to-day lives he gives us.
I love the idea that a calling is out there just waiting for me to claim it. I want the spark, the juice and the inner glow that come from doing exactly what I should be doing in my life. But sometimes I wonder if the idea of one true calling is a myth.
Our callings seem more random than focused. They seem to grow out of opportunities, relationships, and the occasional risk of trying something new.
Most of us are not changing the entire universe, but we are probably changing a piece of it. We might not be illuminating the world, but we are likely lighting up a corner here and there. So with that in mind, consider this last bit of Oprah advice:
“Each one of you has your own platform…Mine is a stage in a studio, yours is wherever you are with your own reach, however small or however large that reach is. Maybe it’s 20 people. Maybe it’s 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom; your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, and your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have.
“My great wish for all of you who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show is that you carry whatever you’re supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don’t waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.”
Sometimes the life that is calling us is the one we are living now, and our lofty purpose is right under our nose just waiting for us to recognize and embrace it. Sometimes our callings come in the form of our responsibilities, and we are so busy looking for the more glamorous life that we miss the splendor of the one we’ve got.