Right For You

Listen, I know it’s terribly unpopular for writers to talk about how they write because everything should be effortless to a reader, but you guys know how I feel about effortless. And so, I’m going to talk about it.

Whenever I feel really, truly convicted about something, I want to share it that very moment. And because I’m not new to this rodeo, I know the right way to share an epiphany or conviction or brief bit of wisdom online is to put it in list form and title it something crazy SEO-friendly, like “Three Steps To A Happier Life” or “How To Cure Bacon In Thirty Seconds” or whatever. But you know what? I don’t want the angle. I don’t want to brand myself as a life expert, complete with bullet point lists and tweetable captions. I’m an expert in me; you’re an expert in you. And the expert truth is that neither of us are experts in anything at all, except for maybe the genius that thought of this. That certainly borders expert territory.

And still, we are convinced, trapped, by the assumption that there is a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something, which is a lie – a liiiiieeeeee!

There is, instead, only a right way to do something and a right-for-you way to do something.

Right is a universal standard that isn’t universal at all. It is a mirrored gem, and you look at it into the light and it catches something different, a reflection of its surroundings. It changes by circumstance, and time, and popular opinion. You wear it on your hand, a ring, and it tangles your hair.

Right-for-you is a gem, too, but it is the one still earthed below, unpolished and raw. It is buried deep. It hasn’t yet entirely surfaced to be marked or ground down or touched by human hands. It is yours for the honing, the keeping, the sharing.

My girlfriend is working on a project that’s a right-for-her project. You can tell it’s a right-for-her project, because her hands flap wildly when she speaks of it, and there’s a certain buoyancy in each word. Her smile travels up into her eyes and bursts, and for a second, you’d think it was a right-for-you project, too.

But it’s not. It is hers. For the honing, the keeping, the sharing. A gem of a gift.

And then, another girlfriend. She’s working on a project that’s a “right” project. It is everything she should do, everything that is right, everything that makes sense. And yet, it is tangling her hair.

And I don’t know what to make of it all, because we’re taught right vs. wrong and good vs. bad and the truth is that there is all of it – right and wrong, good and bad, glorious and wretched – in all of us, and there is no simple decision that will contain one without the other.

I was raised in Christian circles as a kid, and there was no end to the discussion of a calling. We’d talk about our calling crouched down in metal chairs at church camp, in couches of the youth rec room, in wooden pews after services. We would pray about our calling, think about our calling, obsess about our calling. A calling is to say, yes, this is the job God has created me for. This is how I will serve the world, how I will shine my particular light. I will be a fill-in-the-blank. Yes, that is right.

And what I have found is that, no, this is not right. A calling isn’t a profession, a job, a career. It is, simply, character. It is not what you do, but what you are. What you treasure, what you practice, the fruits you produce.

We can be joyful as an elementary school teacher, and we can be joyful as an accountant. We can be patient as a stay-at-home mother and we can be patient as a pilot. We can share a legacy with our biological children, or with no children, or with ten adopted children, or with the 97-year-old man we visit at the nursing home twice a month. We can have faith seated in a cubicle, or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or waiting for the test results, or vacuuming the carpet for the third time this morning.

And we can love. We can love in all of these jobs, with all of our skills, with all of our souls. We can even love the gum-crackers*, if we try really hard.

And so, right-for-you, or right, or wrong, or wrong-for-her, or right-for-him, or right-for-me and wrong-for-all, these things don’t truly matter, do they? We are free from this. We are free from the right, period. The wrong, period.

It is time for the ellipses.

Do the right thing or the right-for-you thing. Do what you love, or don’t do what you love. Just do it with love.

*Gah, the gum-crackers. I’m trying.

  • I love reading all your posts. But this one in particular really spoke to me. This is my year of doing what is right for me, my business and my family. It’s not always easy staying true to oneself when you are distracted by the world of media “showing” you otherwise, doubting if you are on the right track. But if you trust your own inner compass, I believe it always steers you to the right place. Thank you as always for sharing your eloquent thoughts. Have a great weekend!

  • Erin,
    You put so beautifully into words many of the thoughts that have floated through my head. I appreciate your writing and insight very much. I have been processing this a lot lately – the right and wrong, black and white. It all becomes more shades of grey than we realize and that’s ok. Loving others through it all is what really matters.
    Thank you for the wise words!

  • Great words! You know, some of us would like to do more of the right job but sometimes we end doing something else. That particular time my Christian education told me to pray and do my best. Thank you!

  • I really relate to this! First off, I remember similar youth group couch conversations, but also, in my current 27 year old life there exists this seemingly enormous pressure to find and follow your passion. And I’m always like ah! What’s my passion?? I need one stat!! Which really isn’t a good approach (obviously). I love the idea of living your calling/passion in everyday life. Not putting pressure on yourself to do the “right” thing. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “You are a human being not a human doing.”

    • Ha – I can COMPLETELY relate to the ‘What’s my passion?!’ approach, as if I searched enough, it would appear. ;) But I forgot I could be passionate about where I was, not where I should be or could be or supposed to be. Also, I LOVE the human doing quote – thank you for sharing with me! :)

  • Loved this, Erin. Thanks so much for being you and giving us the permission to be us. Sending love!

  • I am so glad that I found your blog. Your writing travels straight to my soul; makes me laugh and makes me cry; and reminds me of what is truly important in the “one precious life.” Thank you so much.

  • Love this! I always hesitate about writing about things that have changed my perspective or have helped me because I worry that people will disagree or think I don’t have the authority to say these things but you are so spot on, because I need to see that they can disagree and it can still be right for me.

    Thanks for sharing!



  • This post is something truly motivational Erin. Every time what we might think does not happens the same way we want it to be. The key point is to be confident and believing in yourself so that everything becomes Right for You :)

  • I think that you hit it on the head when you said “for a moment we think someone else’s project is a right for us project too”. That’s the tough part…when someone else finds that thing that lights up there eyes and “gets their hands flapping” we compare our not so lighted up feelings with theirs and we WANT that too! Then…maybe we think their project should be ours as well. For me- I’ve had to work long and hard to find my “lighted eyes, had flapping” projects. Long and hard working on myself. For me that meant focusing more on who created me so I could learn more about what He had created FOR me. Beautiful post!

    • Yes, yes, yes. I hear you loud and clear and struggle with this often, Dija! For me, putting on my “blinders” and just walking in what I have, today, has helped tremendously with those feelings. But I do get distracted with that doubt often, thinking should I just do what she does?! She looks so JOYFUL! Should her thing be my thing, too?

      This is such a beautiful thought instead: “For me that meant focusing more on who created me so I could learn more about what He had created FOR me.” Thanks for sharing this with me, Dija!

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