Jeff was forty-five years old when he was admitted to hospice with end stage heart disease. Jeff reflected, “I was one of fourteen children and mom raised us pretty much by herself. Dad was a truck driver and he was always gone. We didn’t have much money so mom raised us on eggs and potatoes. Back then, Keller’s Produce delivered them to our house. I was a mama’s boy; I got my feelings hurt easily. When my family saw me they would say, ‘There’s little Dorothy’. Dorothy was my mom’s name.”
Jeff’s wife, Lilly, died eight years earlier and Jeff’s mother-in-law, Shirley, graciously took Jeff in. It seems that one of Shirley’s callings in life was to take people in. She’d also taken in her sister-in-law, Becky, after Becky’s husband died. Becky stated that she and Shirley had become, “like sisters, best friends”.
Jeff and his wife, Lilly, used to enjoy playing bingo. Jeff stated, “We started out going to bingo at the Elks. I started helping out with the hard cards and they ended up asking me to call bingo; and I called for over twenty years. I loved it. I would tell jokes; and they had a piano and I would play and sing happy birthday to anyone who had a birthday that day. I even sang a George Jones song, ‘Choices’, once; and people said I missed my calling. People said I was the best bingo caller around. Really, I’m not lying, just ask your mom.”
There was a reason why Jeff suggested I ask my mom. You see, my mom traveled the same bingo circuits as Jeff and Lilly. They were fellow members of the local bingo community. In fact Jeff and Lilly, once gave my mom a ride home when her taxi didn’t show. So I did ask my mom and she confirmed, “He was the best bingo caller around.” And she affirmed, “He could have been a country music singer.”
While Shirley and her family made their yearly trek to Myrtle Beach, Jeff spent a week at the Hospice inpatient center. I suggested Jeff take his guitar and entertain the hospice staff and other patients. I gathered some of the staff in Jeff’s room and requested he sing “Choices”. The lyrics could have been Jeff’s personal confession: “I’ve had choices since the day that I was born. There were voices that told me right from wrong. If I had listened, no I wouldn’t be here today, livin’ and dyin’ with the choices I’ve made.” After everyone left the room, Jeff and I had a long discussion about choices and consequences and Jeff again suggested, “I feel like I missed my calling.”
So, what do you think? Can we miss our calling? Do we all have a calling? If so, how do you know what your calling is? I suggested to Jeff that he hadn’t missed his calling, but he may have neglected his gift and missed opportunities.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call. (Romans 11:29, Amplified Bible). And Paul exhorted Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift which is in you, that special inward endowment which was directly imparted to you by the Holy Spirit… Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them as your ministry…” (I Timothy 4:14, Amplified Bible)
I believe that our calling is manifested in the desires of our heart. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When the Lord has our hearts we can trust them. Therefore, let’s stop holding back and throw ourselves “wholly into them”.
I’ll close with the an excerpt from a song written by my daughter Jessie’s boyfriend, Shane: “But did you know that what’s in your soul matters…If you hold something in your hand, never let it go, never give it a chance; the chances are slim to none that it ever really bloomed, that you ever really won. You’ve got to let your inside out, go after what you want and take it now. If you don’t you’re like the dead woods now, the butterfly that hit the ground; gone, gone, gone, gone…and never coming back again.”
Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 740-356-2525