Over the years I’ve heard questions like ‘What is purpose?’, ‘What is my purpose?’, ‘How will I know when I find my purpose?’ or ‘Do I even have purpose?’
All of these are great questions, the concern is valid and truth be told, most of us have asked ourselves these questions more than once.
So what’s the answer? How do you find purpose? Is it told? Is it showed? Is it discovered? Does it evolve? How will we ever know what we are placed on this earth to do?
At this point, I wish I had some profound answer to each of these questions. I wish I knew. I wish I could tell you! But I can’t… The only thing I can tell you for sure is that your purpose comes from God and was deposited in you before you even reached your mother’s womb. As for the rest of the questions, they are so personal to each of us, that the answers can only be found within ourselves.
What I can tell you are three practical truths that I have found on my journey.
- Your purpose is for people, not in people.
Now this first one is going to be difficult for the Momma who’s knee deep in dirty diapers and believes she is only on earth to wipe butts or the woman who believes her purpose will be found in a spouse or the Pastor who believes his or her value is found in the size of their ministry. (All of these examples are close to my own personal story, yours might be different and that’s OK!) What you have to offer this world is not found in the form of another human. Period. Your purpose is for people, not in people. Be very careful not to confuse the two. As a mother if I believe that my purpose is changing diapers, doing laundry and reading bedtime stories, what happens when my little people grow? Does my purpose diminish? Of course not! Your purpose will outlast the people in your life. No matter how close those people are to you. Knowing that your purpose is for people, not in people will free you from the entrapment of people pleasing.
Have you placed your hope and purpose in people only to be let down? I’m certain that wasn’t God’s original intent for you. Don’t quit your purpose when people fail you, your purpose is for people, not in people!
- You can’t find what you’re unwilling to face.
In my experience, purpose is usually tied to a strength disguised as a struggle and it isn’t until you’re willing to face both that our purpose truly begins to unfold. Through grade school I had two very specific struggles that now I can look back on knowing they were actually intentional attacks on my strengths that would build walls of fear like a fortress around my heart and purpose.
They began when I was young and truthfully, I have struggled with these two things almost every day since then. First, I was rejected and excluded. When I moved to a new town and began a new school, I was just that- the new girl and it was clear that I would not be welcomed into the ‘in crowd’. I was left out, forced to ‘prove myself’ and yet, I never quite fit in nor was I accepted the way I had hoped.
Secondly, I was extremely insecure- not only about my appearance but my abilities. I still remember the first time I was made fun of for the acne on my face and the day that I realized that I could never and would never read out loud AGAIN! (Let’s just say this experience involved the word pesticides and resulted in a room full of young, mean and relentless teenagers laughing my soul into a state of panic!) I will never forget these experiences. I will never forget the journey that began on each of these respective days when fear, rejection, hurt and pain filled my heart and tried to wage war against my purpose.
What I didn’t know then is that I was called to stand out of the crowd. I was never meant to fit in with the group or flow with the crowd. My purpose would require me to ‘stick out’ in a sense because if I looked like, acted like and become like everyone else, what impact could I really have? What better way to attack my strength then to make it my weakness? To make me believe that I could not impact ‘the group’ because I wasn’t even worth being a part of ‘the group’?
For a very long time after this, I had a hard time facing people. I always felt like I would be on the outside, and often times I was! This only further validated my dysfunction. Once I began to realize that I had a purpose and in my purpose I just couldn’t fit in with the crowd, it became ok for me to be on the outside. Secondly, being made fun of for my inability to get through a basic paragraph in my school textbook without error made me think that I couldn’t, shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) speak out loud ever again. But that was also a lie. I am called to write, read and speak! My biggest weakness was my strength in disguise.
What is your biggest fear? Insecurity? Worry? Obstacle? I’m certain that if you would face your weakness, you will find your strength and your purpose will be nestled nicely in between the two.
- Practice your purpose.
Don’t wait until you feel as though you’ve arrived to get going on your purpose. That day will never come. We will never ‘arrive’ on this side of eternity. We will always be what I like to call ‘a work in progress’ and that can’t be a reason to stay stagnant. You have to start!! Where are you right now? This looks differently for all of us but if you can begin to practice your purpose in a practical way, you will begin to see it unfold in a supernatural way. What does this look like? Well for me, I believe that I am going to be an author. I’m not (yet), but I do believe that is a purpose I have in life. Often times I get messages from friends or family, ‘Can you read this?’ or ‘This is what I’m trying to say, how would you word that?’. So what do I do? I practice my purpose and I write. I’ve become quite the ghost writer! Anything from cover letters to speeches to emails and more! I write on the boards at work, I write in my notebook, I write in my planner. I write as much as I can because I’m practicing my purpose in a practical way! Whatever your purpose looks like, make an honest effort to practice it, daily and it will grow.
Purpose is a beautiful thing and like any mosaic masterpiece, all of the pieces need to come together in order to make the full picture. The world is waiting for ‘your piece’ to arrive. Get started, right now, where you are, with what you have. Begin to explore, discover and practice your purpose. The world is waiting for you.