Maybe this is something that my generation specifically focuses on more than past generations, maybe we just talk about it more, or maybe we lack focus more than our parents and grandparents did so we are consumed with the idea of it. Maybe it’s none of these things, maybe everyone who ever lived struggles with this idea:
The idea of purpose.
Everyone wants to have a purpose, a God given purpose, a meaningful purpose, a rewarding purpose. We are encouraged to nurture dreams for our future purpose from a very young age, and then to put something of a plan together based off of those dreams in order to achieve our purpose. We are taught that having a purpose means having vision, and having vision means you’ll go farther in life, achieve more, be more marketable. Find your path and stick to it so that by 30 you can be successful in your chosen profession, you can claim to have found your purpose.
But what if that purpose changes?
In middle school I wanted to be a poet, by 9th grade a lawyer, by 10th grade a teacher, by graduation I was making plans to join the army, and then after graduation; well after graduation I was trying to find a place to live. In a span of a few weeks my focus had completely shifted, college went from being in the forefront to being an afterthought, and purpose, well purpose had thrown itself out the window along with all my career plans.
Screen fade to a year and a half later and there I was, having put some questionable life choices and one terrible relationship in the past, but still having no clear cut plan for the future. I stood in a new home, in a new state, with a new relationship, but still no purpose. I became extremely depressed pretty quickly. I enrolled in college for lack of a better plan, still unsure of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be in the future. All of my experience from high school and life was telling me that because I didn’t have a solid plan I was a failure. I quickly went from having great grades, to dropping all my classes once again and barely making it to my part time job each day.
Another year of this went by and I skated along, no focus, no plan, no purpose.
God was doing something though. My lack of commitment didn’t translate into a lack of action on His part, He was just waiting for me to catch up to Him, to be willing to follow His lead. He called me to go back to school, where I developed an interest in Biology and Nutrition of all things, not something my 12th grade bookworm self would have expected, and I decided to find a job in the healthcare field. I bopped along pretty happily for a year, getting good grades and making new plans, finally feeling like I had a definite purpose. A God given purpose. I was going to help people.
What I didn’t realize at the time, what I still struggle to wrap my head around now, is that God will sometimes give us a glimpse of His future plans for us, just enough to get us motivated and interested, but then He will change the terrain of the path immediately in front of us. He will add a few potholes, a few bumps, a few twists and turns; and if we don’t keep our eyes on Him the whole time it can seem like we’ve been totally derailed.
I was derailed.
College got put on hold yet again. Financial aid didn’t work out. I was working 40+ hours a week waitressing, I had struggled to find an apartment so that my boyfriend and I were no longer living together, and I was struggling deeply with my faith and family issues. I went from having a vision to treading water in what seemed like a matter of minutes. But God has a way of taking advantage of the times when we are treading water, when we are figuratively fighting for our lives. He uses those times when we have only one thing on our minds to grow us and stretch our hearts and faith; it’s so uncomfortable but so necessary.
But hindsight is indeed 20/20 and I am writing these words after having gotten married, bought a house, rediscovering my faith, and making solid life changes for the better. In spite of all of this, I still feel at times as if I lack purpose.
I am a mother. Some will tell you that there is nothing more purposeful than being a mother and a wife. That these are the most important jobs we could ever have, and if they are all we ever do in life then that is okay. I would not go so far as to argue this, I think it is definitely true for some women, and wonderfully so. But not for me. I was back to treading water.
No matter how much enjoyment comes from mothering my little and being wife to this husband of mine, I still felt at times as if I lacked a true purpose. I recently saw a meme that said that if all you’ve ever dreamed about in life is to be a mommy and a wife that’s perfectly okay. That’s truly a gift. That’s a good purpose. I totally agree. I wish those were my dreams almost every day. But deep down my heart longs for more. My mind strains for more engagement, my soul searches for a way to help more people than just my small family.
So I am back in the academic world, studying Exercise Science and Biology. Having come past a debilitating health setback, some serious depression, some pretty serious doubting of my abilities and gifts, and another bout of stale faith. My trust in God has been stretched almost to the breaking point yet again, and He has driven me further out of my comfort zone than ever before.
But He has been teaching me something amazing all the while.
Purpose is Fluid.
Purpose is a fluid thing. It is not always a linear development of dreams to plans to goals to life choices. Sometimes it develops on a continuum so that by the time we reach the middle or the end, what we have before us only vaguely resembles what we started out with. God doesn’t do this on accident.
Whether you had dreams to be a stay at home mom but ended up working community politics, or you dreamed of being in the Army but ended up homeschooling three littles while cooking your hubby dinner and folding laundry every day; God has a unique purpose in mind for each of us. Sometimes it looks like what we thought it would, sometimes it looks nothing like what we dreamed, but if it’s God’s purpose for us, it will always be perfect.
So yeah, if all you’ve ever dreamed of was being your husband’s helpmate and mamma to a bunch of littles, that’s totally okay. But if your dreams look a little different and you’re wondering if you can do this mommy thing and have a career at the same time, that’s okay too. If God has shown me one thing, it’s that often our plans for life look a lot different than His do, and we will always be surprised and blessed by what He has in store for us.
Regardless of what that looks like we can rest assured of one thing; We all have a purpose.