I wasn’t “called” to be a high school teacher.
In my experience, every time that word has been used that way – someone “having a calling” – it has implied a god-figure somewhere “out there” drawing the person to it through their profession.
It has implied the person was “called” toward the correct option, the righteous option, the holy option – what they were “supposed to” or “meant” to do. It implies a clear path forward.
That hasn’t been my experience.
When I was 13 years old, Mrs. Beers, a warm yet ferociously demanding teacher, helped ignite in me a love for history and geography.
When I was 16, I saw the way Mr. Yudin taught and I felt the implicit permission to be as excitable and zany and life-affirming as he was.
When I was 21, I witnessed Jesse Hagopian leading teacher protests of bad testing policies and I, too, wanted to use my profession to work for justice and healing.
I wasn’t “called” to be a high school teacher – it emerged up from my experience of the people and the world around me. It was a path modeled for me where my passions could meet the existing possibilities of my circumstance.
And seen from that lens…
And seen from that lens – not as a “calling” from above, but as a very earthy invitation from the realness of the present moment – I had no issue leaving the classroom.
Because, unlike “callings” which imply a linear and divine trajectory, earthy invitations are always about the dance. There is no correct or righteous path to walk; things shift and change and wobble around. We are each invited by the providence of the “right now” to move our feet; to find where our passions meet the possibilities of the present moment.
So, for now I write and share what I’m seeing, I trade my time for money by working for an education nonprofit, and I lead workshops supporting people navigate their inner lives.
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll do something else entirely.
My new book is now available!
“In Unmasking the Inner Critic, Andrew Lang has created a beautiful and accessible guidebook to help you do the inner work central to the act of being human.”
—Brian D. McLaren, author, activist, and teacher with the Center for Action and Contemplation
Rooted in the teachings of mystics, saints, poets, and prophets, Unmasking the Inner Critic: Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life offers guidance and support for how to move beyond some of our most challenging fears and negative inner narratives.
With an intuitive blend of reflection questions, contemplative practices, action prompts, and his own personal story, Andrew Lang shares the wisdom from secular poets and therapists—as well as from Christianity, Buddhism, and Sufism—that has grounded his workshops for almost a decade.
Discover how to:
do the work of inner excavation with spiritual practices that hold and embolden it,
dig deeper for a more authentic way of living and being who you truly are,
lay aside the masks that keep you from fully experiencing the world,
engage the inner life as the beginning of sustainable activism, and
live a healthier, more confident, and well-grounded life.
The perfect book for progressive Christians, secular seekers, and those who are deconstructing Christianity, Unmasking the Inner Critic helps us expand our spirituality beyond the institution of religion for our personal transformation and communal healing.