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What is my purpose?
Why on earth am I here on earth? Wouldn’t you say that’s the number one question we ask ourselves? And if you’re a Christian, you might phrase it a bit differently by saying what is God’s will for my life? But in all actuality, we’re all asking the same question. What is my purpose? I think we naturally ask this question because we’re the only species that has an awareness that expands beyond ourselves. And we also know we did not consciously create ourselves. There’s something greater beyond ourselves that is at play here.
So, we sort of wake up one day and realize, Oh, well, here I am. Now what? What am I supposed to do with this life I’ve been given? I’m pretty sure there should be a bigger purpose than living and then dying as just another animal in the forest.
But life is so open ended. We’re not given our next steps. So discovering why we’re here and the greater purpose for the life we’re living can be so overwhelming. You look around at all the different directions, the different options, there’s an infinite amount of possibilities. You sort of get that stunned feeling, right?
Which one of these options is my purpose? Where do I go next? What do I need to do?
It’s like putting a 5-year-old in Baskin Robbins and asking them what flavor of ice cream they want. They just stand there. They get choice overwhelm. And then ask them to pick a topping. Forget about it. You’ll be there till Christmas.
Then, if you put a moral judgment on top of that, meaning there’s a right purpose and possibly a wrong purpose. There’s God’s will and NOT God’s will. There becomes an even more stunted overwhelm because I don’t want to pick the wrong one, because if I pick the wrong one something bad might happen to me. So we sort of stumble around in the wilderness of life trying to find our promised land of purpose or God’s will.
I was one of those people who struggled with this my whole life and sort of thought I might’ve gotten into the wrong line when God was handing out his will for people. There was a glitch in the system when it was assigning purposes. I felt lost in this world the first 30-something years of my life.
I think a lot of times this lost feeling comes from a place when you don’t have natural talents that are easily identified to be fostered into a career of purpose. What I mean about that is, I wasn’t gifted in the arts. I didn’t have a natural disposition to project my voice, sing, dance, or command the attention of others. I was quiet, mild-mannered and preferred to go unnoticed, so I wasn’t ever going to go into the entertainment world. I wasn’t a born leader or had a knack for entrepreneurship or driven by status. So, from a young age, I didn’t really have a passion that drove me into a life of a greater purpose. I felt most at home daydreaming lost in my thoughts.
And you know what I would do for hours as a kid? Talk to myself. I would sit in my room and tell myself crazy made up stories to myself in the mirror. Or I’d play school and I was the teacher. I’d teach my imaginary students all afternoon with the little chalkboard I had on my bedroom wall. I thought this was a normal thing to do until I told a friend about it in middle school and she told me, “No that’s not normal. That’s weird.”
I did get my teaching degree, only to discover I loved teaching, but I hated being locked into a room with 20 children. So I felt like I had missed my purpose even with that. Talk about coming full circle. Who knew 30 years later I’d be talking to myself in my room teaching to an empty room would be normal and people would call it podcasting?!
My point is when you don’t have giftings that society may deem as valuable, it can be difficult to find “Your passion in life” to discover your greater purpose. So you can get lost along the way. I felt this way most of my life. Continually asking God to show me his will.
Is this how you feel too? Do you feel like a 5 year old in Baskin Robbins worried about picking the wrong ice cream flavor?
And maybe you’re like me and worry, “what if I do pick this purpose or passion to follow, only to discover I hate it?” Like with me teaching elementary school.
You worry, “What if I start climbing this mountain, only to get to the top and realize it’s the wrong mountain.” So you don’t make a decision because you’re worried it’s the wrong one. You wander around the wilderness wishing you could find the answer. Praying for God to show you the way. Can someone just come tell me the right flavor to pick?
So, we live in this stuckness.
I talk a lot about the pivotal moment in my life, but that’s because it’s what woke me up. That was the event the trajectory of my life changed forever. That’s why I think we hear so many people talk about life after their life-altering event because it those kinds of moments that wake you up from the sleep you were in. So, after Matt’s affair, I had gone through months and months of healing and I went from depressed and lost and feeling so insecure and insignificant to bursting in love. I had found a new lease on life and I was so excited. My life was expanding from the inside out. I was so incredibly happy.
I was sitting in my therapist’s office one day and everything within me shifted. I had spent a year focused on myself, healing from childhood wounds, life wounds, not even just my husband’s affair, just so many of those hidden places I was getting healing from. At that moment, sitting in the chair in my counselor’s office there was a shift, a pivot within me, and I started sobbing. Not for myself. Not for anything that had happened to me. Suddenly, I had this awareness that there are others living the hell, in the prison I had been living in for so many years. In that moment I knew I was to help other women be set from their inner darkness. In that moment I found a purpose. The purpose I had sensed inside of me my whole life. There’s something greater for me to do with my life. I knew that I knew, I had to share what I had learned. I didn’t know how or when or to who, I just felt a calling to come to leap on the mountain tops.
That was six years ago.
Not long after that, I was sitting in the carpool line waiting to pick my kids up from school. When I sat thinking about my new found passion. It felt so good to have a greater purpose to work toward. That’s when I wondered, man, did I not have a purpose before this? Did I have to go through my husband’s affair and heal from it to finally have something greater than me to do?
All of these questions were mulling around in my head.
A few days prior Matt and I had attended a silent auction dinner for a non-profit organization. The man who started it was spending the rest of his life building this organization that supports families with young children that have one parent in the late stages of cancer. He was passionate about this. You could tell he was in the flow of his greater purpose, but it all came about after his wife passed away with young children at home. His purpose was birthed out of the pain of his trauma.
Did he not a purpose before that?
I know another lady who will spend every last breath raising money for her non-profit fighting for better pediatric cancer research because she walked the broken road of watching the adverse affects our modern medicine of radiation and chemotherapy had on her young son.
Did she have to go through this tragic even with her son to finally wake up to a purpose?
Surely this isn’t how it works. You don’t just find a purpose after events like this happen in your life and now you have something beyond yourself to get behind. Because you sense something long before that. I thought surely there’s a way to discover your purpose without going through a tragic event. Surely you can have a purpose long before.
So how does one find such a thing?
That’s when I went back to the root of it all. Love. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” So, I went back to my foundation and began to dive into love to see if I could find our purpose.
This lead me to the words of Jesus. This was how he told us to live our lives. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.”
There’s love again. The very foundation of who we are and what we do. That’s when I realized that
We all have the very same exact purpose for our lives. It’s to Love and be Loved.
Your purpose is to Love and be loved. My purpose is to love and be loved. It’s from this very foundation we live our lives. But how Love manifests will look and be different from person to person. And it will look different in every chapter of your life. Love expands and fear shrinks, so at any point, your life is expanding, you know you’re rooted in love, you’re living in your purpose.
For example, if you’re young and single, Love may manifest through you getting yourself an education or volunteering at a homeless shelter. If you’re married with young kids, Love may manifest in pouring all your attention into fostering a peaceful and loving home to raise your children in. Or maybe Love manifests in a career that gets you excited to get out of bed every day. Because when you’re happy and full fo Love you spread happiness and love to everyone you meet. It’s whatever lights you up and expands this world and makes it a better place.
Love doesn’t have to be grand or philanthropic, either. If you’re expanding in any way at all you’re fulfilling your purpose of Love. I have a friend who makes custom sugar cookies and they’re absolutely adorable and delicious and she makes everyone happy who eats one. That is Love manifesting itself through her creative abilities.
Your purpose is to manifest Love in this world through creativity, song, dance, leadership, or supporting your family.
So, don’t be afraid to pick a flavor of ice cream. The ice cream itself is your purpose, the ice cream is love, what flavor you choose is entirely up to you. Did you pick something and Wanna try another flavor? Go for it! And serve it up however you like, waffle cone, sugar cone or a cup. Make it into a hot fudge sundae if your heart so desires! The possibilities are endless!
Now it’s super easy to find out if you’re in God’s will or living your purpose, you simply ask yourself, “Is this rooted in love?” And if your life is expanding in love, if you’re moving humanity one millimeter closer to God, than you’re in the will you’re living your purpose.
What if you find out you’re not expanding in love, but you’re shrinking in fear. What if you haven’t been living in Love. In a split second, you can shift your thoughts back into a space of love and within seconds you are back in the will of God.
But that doesn’t just make life, rainbows and unicorns, right? What if you’ve got other factors involved that are sucking the life out of you and keeping you from doing what you love and it’s keeping you from enjoying your life. Like, a dead end job with a boss who makes your life hell, or you’ve got a mountain of debt, chronic illness or you’re in an unfulfilling relationship.
How are you supposed to live out your purpose when life seems to be preventing you from going after it?
I don’t believe there is one thing in your life that can stop you from living your purpose.
Do you remember my north stars? Corie ten Boom and her sister Betsie in the book, The Hiding Place?
I talked about them in the post “How to Feel Better on a Bad Day” Corie and her sister Betsie were sent to a concentration camp during WWII for helping Jews escape the Nazis in Holland. But in the most horrific inhuman conditions, Corie and her sister remained in peace and love. They were not defined by their circumstances. So any time I feel sorry for myself in my life, I remember them and I remind myself I have no excuses.
Here are three ways you can begin to live out your purpose of love when your circumstances are less than ideal.
1. Accept your life just the way it is. Right now.
You’re gonna hear me talk a lot about acceptance because it’s the key to live in happiness, peace, and contentment. Acceptance is really hard for people because acceptance feels a lot like approval. But that’s not the case at all. The opposite of acceptance is resistance and when you’re continually resisting something you don’t like or wish wasn’t so you’re creating tension and frustration within yourself, making it more difficult to make the change you desire. Accepting is simply allowing something to take up space in your life. Without judgment without resistance. It’s from this place of acceptance you can begin to make the changes you desire in your life.
2. Practice gratitude.
There’s a saying that says, people aren’t happy because they have a lot to be grateful for. It’s grateful people who are happy. When you begin to practice gratitude you open up the flow of love in your life. The more you’re thankful for the good things, the more good things will come.
Scripture says in all things give thanks. This even includes things that don’t seem to be good, because the truth is all things work together for our good. And when you are in a space of complaining and worry you are actually not in a place of gratitude and you are cutting yourself off from the flow of Love in your life. Begin the daily practice of gratitude. Like actually speak it out loud, write it down. Pay attention and be grateful for all things in your life, because this is what keeps you connected to the flow of God.
3. Be present.
Keep your mind and thoughts in this present moment. Do not live in regret of your past. What is done is done. There is nothing you can do to change it. Let it go. Do not worry about the unknown possibilities of the future. It hasn’t happened yet, so why spend any time trying to figure it out. Jesus tells us not to give any thought for tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. You’ll figure it out when it comes, you always have, and you’ll be able to figure it out again.
If you find yourself anxious about the future or depressed about the past, here is one way to practice living in this present moment is to pause your thoughts and bring your awareness to your breathing. As you pay attention to your breathing go to step number 2 and begin to speak out loud the things in this very moment that you’re grateful for.
You’re taken care of at this moment. You’re alive. Breathe in. Breathe out. All is well right now.
As you begin to practice these three things in your daily life, watch Love spring up inside of you and as you begin to make the small changes in your life to live in the flow of God, you will discover a new sense of happiness, peace, and contentment along the way.
Here’s my challenge for you:
Starting today, let go of your fear that you don’t have a purpose or you can’t find the will of God for yourself and begin to step into your purpose to love and be loved. Take the three tips I shared with you and apply them to your life as you move more into the flow of Love.
You were meant to live a full and happy life. Follow the desires of your heart, and start dishing up your favor scoops and live your purpose to love with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength.