“Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.” Pope John XXIII
Recently I had one of the most surprisingly profound conversations on this idea of fulfillment and God’s purpose for our life. Surprising and unexpected because these are not the conversations you choose to begin only minutes before the start of Mass and with someone you have met only once before. And yet as we spoke it seemed as if there was all the time in the world. Instantly I perceived his spiritual depth and receptivity as well as the Holy Spirit’s intentionality in this brief encounter.
“What is it that you do”, I asked inquisitively with a smile , “that is when you aren’t serving here?”
“Well I used to be in social work with those suffering from addictions and difficult life choices..but for the last few months I have been working in the technology field.” Though he spoke about his recent work, it wasn’t his life’s work. Immediately, sensing the urging of the Spirit to respond I prayed for the words that needed to be said.
“I can see that you would be very good at your previous work..not sure if you are aware, but you have been given a beautiful spiritual gift of connection. This is not something that everyone obtains, to be able to meet, connect, and relate spiritually with purpose. Have you thought about God’s purpose for your life?”
“Yes, in fact I have said that I would give this present job one year, I have been discerning where I am meant to be.”
“While I am certain that in whatever you do, you can use this gift, I truly believe that God may have greater plans in store for who you are meant to BE. Financially, we work at various jobs because they provide a necessary income to provide the essentials in life. And, this is important. However, in my own life in an initial desire to use my education and potential to achieve success in this world, as a follower of Christ, I found myself saying yes to another path. In doing so, I began to glimpse all of the unfulfilled potential in my life, to ask what God’s will is for my life and to grow to be who God has called me to be. I will be praying for you, and I cannot wait to hear how God leads you!”
As the first lines of the opening hymn played, we finally parted and each made our way to our pews. Taking my place beside my family, the grace received from being who and where I needed to be, was undeniable. This journey of staying unfulfilled isn’t about never finding happiness, but in a realization that all happiness lies in God’s will for our lives. It is refusing to rest success and failure in what we have tried in the past or in what the world sees as a realized potential. But instead choosing to shed our fears for God’s hopes and dreams. For “What I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me.” St. Augustine.
What are my gifts? Do I have unrealized or unfulfilled potential in my life? What might God be asking of me today?
6 thoughts on “Unfulfilled Potential”
A wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing.
The gospel about talents comes to mind. It was upsetting to God when he have one of the men a talent, and he just buried it to keep it safe instead of growing it.
Sometimes I think I am that man. I could be doing so much more, but I haven’t figured out yet what exactly that is.
I love what you wrote here. That gospel comes to mind too, and I too feel like I still don’t know what I am supposed to do with the talents that I have. The only thing I can do is keep praying and asking for guidance. The willingness is there—the direction is just not clear yet.
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May the path become so much clearer to us sooner than later.
Very thought provoking post. I love it how we can trike up a conversation with someone and it just goes straight to the heart of the matter.
I think the hardest part is just trying to reconcile where God meant for us to be vs what the world sees as unused potential. Sometimes I just have to stop wondering and just work where God placed me at the moment.
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