Unique and Unrepeatable

True vocation is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” (Frederick Buechner)

Jun 24, 2022

Word Made Fresh Nicholas Lye

I was recently invited to run a creativity workshop, of a secular nature, for a group of widows. Within the very first activity, where I had invited them to choose an origami paper of the colour that reflects their current emotion, and to shape it in whatever way that reflects where they are in life, stories and tears started pouring out from the participants when asked to share what they had created.

I was amazed at how a simple activity could so quickly open up a safe space for these women to share their deep and vulnerable stories of grief, pain and struggle. Some confessed that they did not expect to share so much, but that they also found it a much needed space and time to express their deeper emotions and realities, and somehow gain support, encouragement and strength from the stories of others.

At the end of the workshop, everyone was so surprised at how they could find so much comfort, joy and insight through origami. Yet what surprised them even more, when they asked if I had studied psychology, counselling or social work to be able to do what I do, was my reply that the only official accreditation I have is a bachelor’s degree in accountancy.

What was even more humbling and affirming was when a professional counsellor, who heard from the participants of their experience with me, came down for the next workshop wanting to learn from me and experience what I do.

True vocation is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” (Frederick Buechner)

If you had asked me five years ago if I would imagine myself doing what I do today, I would have laughed at the thought of it. Yet after eight long years of seminary formation, thinking that I would be sent to the parishes to serve God’s people, I now find myself being sent into the world to serve “other sheep that are not of this fold” (John 10:16). What I have also discovered through my years of formation and discernment, is that God is less interested in telling me where I am meant to go or what I am meant to do, and more interested in helping me discover who I am meant to be, and where my true and deeper passions lie.

For it is only when I have come to understand my true nature better, and what deeply gives me life, that I begin to more naturally and easily discover places where He invites my deep gladness to meet a very particular and unique need in the world, one that no one else could ever meet in quite the same, unique way.

“Because of each member’s unique and unrepeatable character… each member of the lay faithful should always be fully aware of being a member of the Church yet entrusted with a unique task which cannot be done by another and which is to be fulfilled for the good of all.” (Christifideles Laici, 28)

Throughout my life, I have often found myself involving creativity in everything I do. When playing games as a child, I never played by the rules, but always came up with my own rules, and found fresh and new ways to play the same game. When giving presentations in school, I too often incorporated lots of creativity in it, such as opening the presentation with a skit or a joke. Back in the seminary, whenever I was tasked to lead the Holy Hour or Rosary, I would often explore fresh and creative ways to help people better connect to God, and themselves, during the prayers.

Today, I find myself desiring to incorporate creativity, theology and the human sciences to bring about something fresh and meaningful into the world, where people of any background or age or context can still encounter the love of God and His Good News in a way that truly heals our wounds and sets us free for the life we were meant to live.

“Do not say; ‘I am still young’, for now you will go wherever the mission I am entrusting to you requires you to go , and you will speak of whatever I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you – it is the Lord who speaks!” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

Still, there are many times when I often doubt if I have what it takes, given my lack of professional credentials or years of experience. Yet moments like the recent workshop remind me that I do not require the world to validate my work and worth. I have God to do that for me, along with my life and work that speaks for itself. It is those whom my unique gift is meant for that are the ones who can truly appreciate me for me, regardless of what the rest of the world looks for.
May you also take the time to discover your own uniqueness, and truly set the world on fire by being who you are meant to be. For me, I am glad those ladies walked out of my workshop feeling on fire with hope, encouragement and empowerment.

(Nicholas is always open to explore new opportunities, platforms or spaces where his unique and unrepeatable gift can bless others in a unique and unrepeatable way. Contact him at lye.nicholas@gmail.com if you wish to explore these possibilities, or even speak to him about his life journey.)

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