The thought was so tiny and simple, easily missed or brushed off as insignificant and silly. It randomly appeared one afternoon while I was writing, one of those whispers of the soul that we can neither confirm or deny… *they just are*. Simple truths that shake us to our core and begin to change everything.
“I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.”
I remember the moment it surfaced, because I had to pause. “I’m sorry, what?” was the thought that followed. And, as simple truths do, it simply repeated itself word for word: I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.
I sat with this for awhile. Not wanting to say it out loud.
Because that would make it real… and it’s too terrifying to be real.
But it’s my work and, if I’m honest, I know it.
I’ve known it for some time now.
You see, I have a theory. A theory that burns my insides and tugs at my heart, calling at me every single day. A theory that gives me chills and inspires me with its possibilities… energizes me with my own personal experience. A theory that’s bigger than just working with depression, and reaches for the hands of the lost and broken and beaten down all over the world.
It’s a theory that also scares the shit out of me.
Because it’s not just a big undertaking, it’s enormous. Seemingly impossible and impractical. And the truth is, I have absolutely no idea how to do it right now. I just know that I have to try. With everything in my being I know I have to step it up and figure it out. Maybe it will happen in this lifetime, maybe it’s meant to inspire the work that will finish it generations from now. I don’t know.
I just know it’s time to step it up.
And that’s really what I’m writing to you about today, stepping it up. In service of something greater than you. In service of your calling and purpose in this life. The work you’re here to do.
“I don’t know how to step it up…” she wrote me, “I guess time will tell if I need to or want to.” I’m writing this post for her as much for me.
Because the truth is, I know it’s time to step it up… but it would be so much easier not to. It would be so much easier to just focus on what I’m good at, what I know how to do. To make a decent living doing awesome work with awesome people, and just living life comfortably and freely.
That would be easier than binding myself to a calling that is so beyond me I can’t even begin to comprehend how it’s possible. And that’s the thing with stepping it up in service of callings, we think it’s supposed to be easy and obvious. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper of the soul that nudges us in a new direction. Into a new way of thinking or being or showing up.
It feels impossible and overwhelming, because we’re often nowhere near the person we need to be in order to bring that vision to life. I’m certainly nowhere near the person I need to be to resolve the kind of depression that makes people choose to leave. To grab for the hands of the lost and broken and give them the tools they need to not only thrive, but contribute in a big, meaningful way.
This is the point of stepping it up.
We have to actually step. it. up.
Callings don’t find us when we’re perfectly aligned and ready to do the work. That’s not how it goes. Callings find us when we’re close enough to a starting point that we can begin to make sense of the whispers and nudges and signs. When we’ve been through enough life and living and experiencing to see the vision for what it is. To understand all that it has the power to become. And that can be so freaking far from the finish line it’s not even funny.
I’ve watched one of my very best friends bring a vision to life, one painfully confusing and frustrating day at a time. Listening to a call that nudged him into something he didn’t know how to do… leading him to create something truly phenomenal, different, and needed.
He stepped it up.
Even when he didn’t know how.
Even when it was hard and frustrating.
Even when it stretched him in challenging ways.
Stepping it up isn’t easy. It’s terrifying… and I know that all too well. When I first felt the call to “find myself and my passion,” I was terrified. I had no idea how to do that, and it meant leaving behind all that was known and comfortable. Even if I wasn’t happy, it was known. I could do stuck and unhappy with my eyes closed. Stepping it up meant getting honest about what wasn’t working and what needed to change. And it meant diving deep into the unknown to rediscover myself and what I was put here to do with my life.
It was hard, but I don’t regret one single moment of that journey.
Which is why whenever I hear a clear call to move in a new, powerful, terrifying direction, I listen. I heed the call. I take the first tiny actions to uncover its meaning and lean in a little bit more every day. I find the courage and the resilience to venture down it’s path. I step it up, every single day.