When I first came back to church in 2011, I was obsessed with “finding my purpose” in life. The book “Purpose Driven Life” was still popular around that time. I not only read the book- I took extensive notes in a special little hard-cover notebook that I bought just for the occasion. The notebook had the poem “Footprints” recessed into the wood on the front. It was very nice; I still have it and all the notes.
I would love to tell you that after reading and taking notes on every page of that book that a light bulb went off and I knew my life’s purpose. But, alas, I was still clueless.
Do What You Love?
This “finding my purpose” became a fixation point in my life. I would read books, listen to sermons, search the web, pray, and ask friends how to find my purpose. Some gave me good advice such as:
- Do what you love, and it will find you
- Just serve God, you will find it soon
- Do what you loved as a child
- Do what you’re good at or passionate about
I was already serving God by singing in the choir, and I do love to sing. Could that be it? I am trying to raise moral, godly children. Could that be it? I like to hike, but I don’t see how that amounts to anything. I wasn’t really passionate about or good at much of anything. I was stumped.
It turned into a place of desperation! I knew from reading the bible that our general purpose was to serve God and be a witness to others. Was that it? I knew many people who seemed to have “found their purpose” and “calling” among the things of God. They were happy and had a deep sense of, well, purpose and meaning in their lives.
The Long Way Around
I knew that God had a job for me, but how did I figure out what it was? I wish I could tell you that it was easy, or that it didn’t take long; but I would be lying. Some people come into church and seem to jump right into their calling within a short time. For me, it took years.
I’m not sure the reason why God seemed to be taking me the long way through the wilderness, but looking back, I have some ideas.
I was lost, and by that I mean emotionally lost. I had recently been through a traumatic divorce and was redefining my role in life from wife to single mother. I was also in school and working full-time. I was so focused on surviving that any “soul searching” had to be placed on hold. I had to finish school, put my focus back on my kids, and find some normal in our lives.
I was too focused on me. My purpose, my goals, my dreams, my wants. I wasn’t really concerned with what God wanted for my life. I wasn’t concerned how I could help others. I was too busy whining about wanting help for myself.
I Give Up!
Finally, I gave up my search for purpose and decided that I just wanted to get remarried and my kids and I would be happy (this is about to get embarrassing, but it’s real, y’all).
So I decided that I needed to prepare for what I was asking for. I began to keep the house cleaner and try to cook more family dinners. I made a list of all the things I was looking for in a husband and prayed over it. During our nightly prayers, the kids and I would always pray for a new daddy and husband. I read Christian books about dating, marriage, and relationships. I was doing everything I knew to do to get ready.
Then one day, while reading Tony Gaskins, I read that a single woman should work on her “Brain, Body, and Brand”. I thought, “Well, I got the brain part going for me. I could work on my physical strength some more. But what is this about a brand?” He suggested that a woman have her own brand such as a business, book, or at least a blog.
That word “blog” hit me like a lightning bolt! I started looking up how to start a blog. I didn’t know what I was going to write about, but I was gonna think of something! Once I finally got the blog up and running, I realized I already had a ton of material in the form of my journal and some letters.
I worked feverishly for about a month, putting out everything I had saved up into blog format. A lot of the things I wrote about were deep and dark. Everything from depression to abortion- and all from my own experiences. Then I had to come up with new material. It was slow-going. Sometimes only one post per month, and I started to wonder if this was for me after all. But I felt something deep inside that I had never felt before.
A profound sense of purpose.
It came from seemingly nowhere. I had stopped searching for it altogether. I had my sights set on landing a husband, but God put me on a one-way track to what he wanted me to do. He wanted me to share my pain, triumph, and newfound hope with the world.
You Will Get There
If you had told me a year ago that I was going to have my own blog site and publish a book, I would have looked at you like you’d lost your mind. I have always liked writing except when I was forced to write about a certain topic (I’ve been in school from age 5-37). I have always been better with written communication than oral. In fact, if I need to have a hard conversation- don’t be surprised if I hang up the phone and text you!
So how long did it take from when I first started searching for meaning and purpose in my life until I finally felt like God revealed it to me? Two years? Five? Nope- it was eight years. Eight years of feeling like I had no direction or any real meaning in my life. It was very hard and lonely. I felt like nobody understood. Only a few people seemed to know the struggle. But this is what I now write about: my eight years in the wilderness (plus my life before God) and how I made it through.
There is a quote that I just love which sums it all up nicely:
“I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength.” ― Alexandra Elle
If you’re trying to find your purpose, take heart. You will get there. It may take you a lot longer than you thought, but it will happen. Maybe it will come from your passion- music, singing, writing, baking, children, photography… or maybe it will come from your pain. Maybe even both, like me!
Wherever it comes from or however long it takes, just keep serving God in the meantime. Just do your best this day. And the next day. If you feel like God is telling you to do something specific- do that one thing. Then the next thing. For me, it was starting a blog. I had no clue what I was doing and was scared to put my pain and struggle out there for the world to see. But God knows what he’s doing, we need only to trust him.