Something I’ve pondered a lot in recent months is Purpose.
As I Christian, I believe that ultimately my purpose is to glorify God, to love him, and to love others. I’m just saying that so that you don’t read all my ponderings and wonderings and think, “oh no, she’s missing the point!” The fact is, I do know the point, but it’s the daily “hows” and “whens” and “wheres” that I have struggled with.
I can remember in middle and high school having friends who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. They wanted to be accountants or teachers or writers. They had an idea of what they loved and what they were good at, and they knew they could pursue it.
All I wanted was to be a wife and a mom, and I never, ever, in my wildest imagination, considered a career to be a good fit for me. But how does one “pursue” being a wife and mom? I figured I’d go to college for my “M.R.S.” degree. That worked out real well for me. Ha!
Anyway. I got through college and landed awkwardly in the workplace, and began to grow new legs. I was not where or who I thought I would be. I was like a newborn, trying to figure out life. I watched as my ambitious and confident peers navigated the first layer of their new found careers, marriages, and homes. And as I tentatively took my first baby steps, I felt off-balance, weak, timid, and afraid. I was uncomfortable. I was embarrassed. I was quickly discouraged. And I just kept thinking, “Surely the man who will make me a wife and mom is right around the corner. It just has to be happening soon! This is NOT the life I was made for…”
Fast forward. Ten long, off-balance, uncomfortable, and confusing years later, I don’t have it figured out. Nowhere near. In fact, I think I’m more confused now than I was at the end of college!
Because then, I at least had ideas. I could at least imagine possibilities. But now I don’t even know if I can really do that!
It’s not all bad, mind you. The plus side of this predicament is that a control-freak like me is learning what it looks like to actually let go and trust that God has a plan. The more time that goes by, the more I can see His hand at work. And that is more awesome than I know how to describe.
But there’s a downside too. That downside is that I slowly allowed my crooked, confused, and blundering path to slowly deconstruct my dreams, my goals, and even my hope. I let discouragement change me from a bubbly, smiley, dreamy girl to a woman with a wrinkled brow, thinning hair, and somewhat unpleasant disposition.
I have ambled through my adult life, mostly aimlessly, a little bit on accident, and grumbling with every step.
I could feel my attitude grow sour within me and I didn’t know how to stop it.
I didn’t know how to ask for help, because I didn’t know what I needed help with.
To be completely honest… usually I still don’t.
But sometime, in the last year or so, I started to have realizations. I started to see what was going on. I started to discover what hurt so much; what was so wrong.
I heard words coming out of my mouth that I never would have believed would come from me one day. Words like “It’s easier to let go of that dream than it is to hope for it anymore.” and “I’d rather let go of the thing I’ve wanted more than anything else, than let the dream of it, that dream that might never come true, interfere with how I treat the people in my life right now.” and “I thought I knew what God made me for, but I was obviously wrong, and now I don’t have a clue.”
Those things are dripping with discouragement. Laced with anger. Painted the color of bitterness. They’re emptied of all hope. They’re the echoes of a broken heart. But not a heart that was broken by a lover or friend – a heart that just gave up and fell apart, piece by piece.
And when I started having these realizations, and started hearing the words that were coming out of my mouth that didn’t sound like the happy girl I once was, I tried to collect the aching pieces of my heart and look for the culprit, the thing that made the it come apart in the first place.
The truth? I don’t really know. I can see the role that sin has played. I’ve begun to recognize what shame and guilt look like when they poke holes. There are some pieces that make a little bit of sense. And there are others that I only know to pick them up and cradle them sometimes. And offer them to God with tears. Release them to Him. Somewhere within there’s the smallest spark of hope. It’s not big enough for me to hand my heart over swelling with excitement and anticipation and overflowing joy. But it’s enough to remind me that when everything feels wrong, He’s right. When everything feels broken, He’s whole. When I feel alone, He’s there.
I know with every fiber of my being that the spark of hope should be a blazing fire. And I know that God’s grace will not let the spark go out, even when it feels so tiny. So I’m not afraid I’ll lose hope. I just wonder how long I’ll feel aimless.
Aimless. Somewhere along this journey I realized that when I started “letting go” of my dreams, I was “letting go” of direction.
I believe that our individual journeys in life were designed by the Creator. And I believe it is our responsibility to find that balanced place between taking action and waiting on Him. I find both of those things in Scripture. We are created to DO. And we are taught to WAIT, and to BE STILL. We know that God laughs at the plans of men. But we also know that we are to use wisdom to plan ahead. There’s need for careful balance.
But if I don’t have a clue what my purpose is, and I don’t work toward any dreams or plans, that basically makes me aimless.
But I want to live life with purpose. ON purpose.
I want to push ahead in life, experiencing growth, anticipating the future, and hoping. I want to watch Him close doors, as He gently reveals His plans for me. I want to watch Him open doors, as He confirms direction. But if I’m aimless, I’m not going to be pursuing anything in particular, or seeking His plans, and listening for His approval or cancellation of the pursuits I consider. And mostly, I want to be in pursuit of His plans for me, as He conforms my heart to His. But, again, I ask: If I’m not pursuing anything, if I’m aimless and purposeless, will I not become stagnant and stuck and still, rather than growing and advancing and molding to Him?
These are the kinds of questions I have wrestled with. More often than I’d like to admit. I’m not a scholar, so my understanding of Scripture is very limited. But He has begun a work in my heart. He has been fanning that spark of hope. He has been restoring my hope, and awakening visions and dreams for my future. He has been reminding me that I have purpose.
Sometimes the reminders are from Scripture:
Sometimes I’m reminded in music:
JJ Heller, Your Hands
(click here to watch the video if you can’t play it!)
And sometimes they’re just random:
And sometimes it’s even from a silly (but well-done) movie:
(click here to watch the video if you can’t play it)
The point is, He’s been reminding me everywhere I look: I have a purpose. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how He might be using me every day where I am right now. I don’t know how He might use me tomorrow, or next week, or in five years. But slowly, I’m starting to allow my heart to dream again. I’m learning to trust Him as he heals the broken pieces and makes me whole, in Him, and for Him. I’m learning to let go of my petty needs, my selfishness, and even the shame and guilt. It’s a long road ahead. It will be a lifelong journey, I know. But every step I take, every work He does in me, fans the flame of hope a little brighter and a little warmer and a little bigger.
I can’t tell you right now what my career will look like. I can’t tell you if I’ll ever get married. I can’t tell you if in ten years I’ll still be saying “I never would have imagined myself here…” But what I can tell you is this: I am learning to find joy, in Him, just because He is. His grace is sufficient for everything, including my dreams, my hopes, my heart – tattered as they may be. The things that feel monumental to me? They’re easy as pie for Him. The answers I seek? He has them. The heart I desire to have? It’s the same heart He desires for me. The one He planned for me. The one He’s showing me, the one He’s growing in me.
As He draws me near to Him, as He opens my eyes to Him more and more, as He quiets my soul and fills me with peace, as He reminds me that I am in His hands and I am safe, I find focus.
I find clarity.
I find a little more purpose today than I knew yesterday.
He is good.