Answering the Call – Not Such An Easy Thing
Sometimes when we think about following our passion and doing what we are called to do, we think about things falling into place and life being an easy journey with this transition. I resonated with Elizabeth Gilbert as she talked about her own journey when she talked about the difficulties in answering the call. I had never studied the stages of the hero’s journey, but in listening to Elizabeth, I knew the stages certainly had fit my life in the quest I took.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her own journey in life and how it related to the Hero’s Journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. (Campbell, 1949)Campbell studied the common patterns running through the hero’s journey. Gilbert listed these stages below as she talked about how they relate to each of us. (Gilbert, 2014)
Gilbert believes that each of us has a calling in our life and opportunity to take the lead in our own story – be the hero of our own story. To do this, we have to answer the call. She reminds us that just because we answer the call life will be not necessarily be easy. On the contrary, if we accept the call, and we expect to transform and change, then the work merely begins when we answer the call. The patterns of the hero journey then comes into play. It is then that we can expect to be challenged, have times of despair, moments of second-guessing ourselves and feel lost, hurt and alone.
After answering the call to take the lead in our own story, our own life, comes the next stages of the hero:
· The refusal.
· The road of trials.
· The characters who show up that you have to figure out how to navigate – the friends who look like enemies, the enemies who look like friends, the wise older woman who is the trickster; these are the pat people who show up and you take what you need from them.
· The dark night of the soul. This is the lowest moment when you lose all faith consider quitting and maybe even dying. You feel broken and you have to call upon Divine Assistance. And through that Divine Assistance you are helped.
· And with that recovery from the rock bottom, you learn your own talents and your own strengths and then you have everything you need for the battle. In the battle the hero (you) loses your fear of death and then you can face anything.
The climax is the battle where you come out as the hero of your story. But the end of the story is that you come home and share what you have learned with others, those in your family and your community. This can be the part that can be overlooked, but people need to hear the story so they know they, too, can make it through their own quest.
Each of us has a quest. Perhaps we are just considering whether to answer the call, are in the midst of the journey and feeling quite alone, or have completed the journey and have arrived back home and are preparing to share our journey with others.
Regardless, it is our work. As hard as it can be, it is where we can find the hero within ourselves. We lose our fear because we face our dragons as we go through our trials and obstacles. And we arrive home a different person. We arrive home our own hero.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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