ist1_2890422_rainbowStanding at the head of the classroom, her tiny facial features peeking out from the massive folds of her long veil, Sister Peter stared out at fifty-second graders. By the sharpened look in her beady coffee-colored eyes, I knew we were about to be schooled on her favorite topic.
“Now, children,” she began, her voice rattling the musical scale, ending on the high note “C.” “You’re all about to become one with Christ with your upcoming First Holy Communion. It’s time to start thinking about your vocation.”
For weeks, the main focus in religion had been discernment: that spiritual process in which we decide who God was calling us to be. If Sister Peter had her way, we’d all grow up to become priests and nuns. I had my plans for I already knew my calling: motherhood. Besides, black one-size-fits-all muumuus were not a look I wanted in my future wardrobe.
In my late 20’s, it came to fruition. While I originally wanted twelve kids, God thankfully knew best and blessed me with four. With each birth, there was no question I’d discovered my true purpose, but as my crew grew up, I found myself struggling; Was it OK that  I placed so much emphasis on being “just a mom?” Did I shortchange myself by not exploring other options along the way that would have made an impact on society?
One day, while hiking in the Rancho San Antonio Reserves, thoughts rumbling with ideas, I heard a voice in my head. Knowing I was getting a message from the universe, I listened intently, but the words didn’t come with any mind-blowing revelation for my questioning brain. Instead, its message was simple, “Be a conduit for kindness – to everyone.”
“That’s it?” I asked, looking at the sky above. “Just be kind? Don’t you want me to save the world from poverty, sell a million homes, or write the next great novel?”
Giggling how uncomplicated this was, I then recalled those times I let my head lead the way instead of my heart when dealing with difficult people. Snarky individuals make my skin crawl, and when it crawls, I feel like an army of ants is marching all over my body. Sadly, I become snarky in kind. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be as easy as it sounded.
But as I walked further, I realized perhaps the voice wasn’t talking about how to treat others. Maybe it was a reminder I needed to be kind to myself.
While the aging process has brought great wisdom, the one thing it hasn’t done is eradicate my habit for self-deprecation. As a child, I was the butt of a lot of jokes, so in order to head off mean comments, I’d make fun of myself first. I wanted people to laugh with me, not at me.
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Perhaps, this goes for how we make ourselves feel too.
So, moving forward, if you hear me cracking jokes about my looks, my talents, even my smarts, you have my complete permission to knock me over the head and remind me to stay the course. By being respectful of the gifts I’ve been blessed with, I’ll be honoring the path I was born to walk.
Hey, maybe that’s what all this life purpose stuff is about: respecting ourselves as much as we respect others, with loving and kind thoughts, as well as actions. I’m so grateful I hear voices!