What If Your Purpose Is Now?

I spend a lot of time thinking about my “purpose.”

Of course, this purpose is much grander, important, and noteworthy than simply sweeping the kitchen floor, making sure everyone’s in clean socks, and teaching a scrapbooking class or two.

This purpose is BIG.

I’m not sure exactly what it entails, but I know cameras and red carpets are probably involved, and that I’ll need to go shopping for a new pair of shoes (and most likely an entirely new wardrobe).

This causes a great deal of personal angst. (Not the shoe part, but the part about it being completely different than the life I’m currently living. Because my life, by no stretch of the imagination, can be called a big life. And if I’m not living my big life, why not? And how do I get there? And what’s going to happen if I never figure it out and keep doing what I’m doing, only to totally miss that big life and big purpose that’s just out there, waiting?)

But then this weekend I stopped and asked myself,

“What if my purpose is NOW?”

Seriously — what if the life I currently have is EXACTLY what God intended? What if the crumb-laden floors, leaky toilets, cranky kids, miles driven to soccer and baseball and ice skating and math and play dates is the very life God designed for me? What if there’s nowhere he’d rather have me be than right here, right now?

Wow. That kind of changes things, doesn’t it?

It would mean, for instance, the attitude with which I go through some of my daily tasks (just hypothetically speaking, of course) might be seen as a tad, umm, diva-ish, kind of like Madonna making her fans wait two and a half hours before she comes on stage and gives a lackluster performance because someone put the wrong kind of designer water in her dressing room.

It also would mean that I’d have to kind of start focusing on where I am RIGHT NOW and doing the best I possibly can RIGHT NOW instead of constantly looking around me for that Bigger Better Deal (the one involving the red carpets and klieg lights).

And I just might have to start showing up with my game face on, ready to do battle on a daily basis, rather than viewing my everyday life as a dress rehearsal for something more important.

And possibly, those little tasks that I’ve been coasting through and not really giving my best? Those just might be a little more important and deserve more of my attention and effort than I had first believed.

And it could be (I’m not saying it IS, but just that it COULD BE) that instead of sitting around twiddling my thumbs like a character from Waiting for Godot, anticipating my big life stopping in front of me like a trolley car, opening up its double doors with a pneumatic hiss and inviting me onboard… Instead, maybe I’m supposed to find meaning in what I’m doing already. Yeah, right now.

Because maybe this “meaning” and “purpose” stuff isn’t about finding and discovering but rather accepting and infusing. Maybe we get to decide what’s meaningful and purposeful. And maybe we’ve been overlooking it, just like Dorothy’s shoes, because they’ve been with us all along.

Hmmmm.

Not saying it’s so. Just saying it’s something interesting to think about.

 

Posted by LEadmin
October 8, 2012

Writers Write.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life goals. Not in the bucket list (Picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower! Safari in Tanzania!) sense, but in the life purpose sense. And one thing that comes to me again and again and again is that I feel called to write.

I do a lot of writing in my daily work. I write emails, blog posts, books, Facebook posts, tweets, and more. And I love it. But it’s a certain level of communication that I’m longing for, one that goes deeper and is less purpose-driven. It’s, I guess, a process-based writing that I’m looking for. The kind where you start with an idea and you follow it along like Harold’s purple crayon, seeing where it takes you, never quite sure if you will end up where you thought or somewhere entirely different.

This writing gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list precisely because it has no definite point. It’s hard to set aside 30 minutes or an hour to wander — albeit only on paper — when I’ve got real, live tasks for real, live people waiting for me. After all, I could write for 30 minutes and end up nowhere interesting at all, or I could take the 30 minutes and do the dishes, scrapbook a layout, fold a load of laundry, and write five follow-up emails. Guess which wins out?

Here’s the challenge: If I want to be the kind of writer who writes about deep, thoughtful topics, I need to spend time wandering. In other words,

Writers write.

It’s simple, really. If I want to be a writer, I have to write. I have to explore, I have to “waste time,” I have to create reams of not-so-good musings and essays and blog posts so I’ll generate the occasional great one. I have to write.

And so I am.

And I’m not the only one this principle belongs to. Want to be an artist? You have to draw. Want to be a photographer? You have to take pictures. You want to be a leader, a philanthropist, a politician? Then you have to lead, donate, lie (just kidding on that last one!).

We somehow get this idea that our dreams will occur FOR us, fully-formed, at some point in the future when we are “worthy” of them (this is what the instant-gratification, overnight success society of the “X Factor” and “So You Want to Be a Millionaire” has done to us). We don’t have to grow into our dreams, or work towards them, or develop specific skills. Instead, we just need to wait to be discovered.

Nope. Doesn’t work like that.

You have to take the small steps. You have to write, draw, dance, explore, learn, create lousy art, throw it away, and try again. You have to do it over and over and over again. And then inch by inch, step by step, ho-hum blog post by ho-hum blog post, you BUILD your dream. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it is simple.

Writers write.

So, what are you going to do today?

Image from JMacPherson/Flickr 

Posted by LEadmin
September 22, 2012

The Fallacy of Fear.

I used to think I was immune to fear. I was proud that I don’t worry so much about stuff the stuff that seems to top American’s greatest fears list:

Speaking before a group doesn’t bother me (ummm, LOVE IT!), nor do escalators, insects, heights, deep water, elevators, dogs, or financial problems. I don’t hyperventilate before stepping into a car, and though I don’t look forward to it, I don’t get overly stressed about flying. I’m not even that worried about being lonely (that’s what Facebook is for, right?).

I even thought I was immune from the everyday fears about finances and sickness (I mean, I WORRY about them, but I don’t FEAR them).

But pride goeth before a fall. It turns out I have a whole host of other fears that, once I started thinking about it, invade my daily life:

  • fear of wasting time.
  • fear of not fulfilling my purpose and destiny.
  • fear of never figuring out what my purpose and destiny are.
  • fear of doing my best and either it’s not good enough.
  • fear (and this is a biggie) of BEING ORDINARY.

Can you believe it? I’m actually afraid of living an “ordinary” life. Of going to my 30th college reunion and being “just” this or “just” that. Of having to tell people that the girl who got all A’s, who went to Stanford, who was supposed to take the world by storm, is just… me.

Even writing that down is hard for me. I’m not sharing this so anyone reading can give me warm fuzzies and ego strokes and tell me, “Oh, but you DO make a difference and you’re NOT ordinary” (though if you’d like to, please go right ahead. I’m not so fully evolved that I don’t need a good ego stroking every so often…heehee).

I feel like I was uniquely equipped to do something… yet I’m not sure what that “something” is. I feel called to something greater… yet “greater” than what?

It’s this constant conflict between knowing there’s more in me, yet not knowing what I’m supposed to do with it. Between serving where I am and blooming where I’m planted, and wanting to grow into something more.

Between embracing the ordinary and longing for the extraordinary.

As a result, I second-guess much of what I do. Should I launch a new class, or work on my mystery novel? Should I volunteer at the church, or try to earn more money to donate to a good cause? Should I become politically active, or work on loving my neighbors? Should I call friends who might need support, or connect with my kids in a (rare) unstructured way and watch a movie?

The spiritual “time management” books tell me there are exactly the right number of hours in the day to accomplish what God has on my to-do list. But what if I don’t feel like he’s being very forthcoming with that list, holding it a bit too close to his white-robed chest? What if I HAVE to make the tough choices and both options seem right and therefore seem simultaneously wrong?

When I get lost in the jungle like this I try to return to what I know for sure:

  • I know for sure that God’s plan is bigger than any I could imagine.
  • I know for sure we are here to love each other and ease each other’s suffering.
  • I know for sure that part of my purpose involves creating community (though I’m not sure I need to spend three hours on Facebook to accomplish that…).
  • I know for sure I’m meant to write, speak, and share the hard parts.

Ahhh… the hard parts! Life IS hard. It’s full of confusion, tough relationships, struggles, and baby weight that is still here even after the “baby” turns eight (please tell me I’m not the only one…). And the more I think I know, the more I realize there are no easy answers.

So while I don’t have some great pithy summation, telling you how to conquer your fears in five easy steps or solve the world’s problems before your morning bowl of oatmeal, I can tell you this:

I’m struggling. You’re struggling. And that’s okay. The struggle means we’re working it.

We’re sweating into our souls as well as our hiking boots, looking for the faint, hidden path we know is there somewhere. We’re navigating from a 2000-year-old guide book, and we’re hacking away at the thorny vines of inconsequentials and the lies and the distractions, pushing back the kudzu and the spiderwebs as we make our way. We offer sips from our canteen in exchange for a handful of trail mix, we crack a joke to make the other laugh, and we give each other a hand as we stumble over a moss-clad log. We’re in this together, looking for that promised land.

And maybe — just maybe — that’s the whole point.

We’re in this together. And once we realize that, the whole thing isn’t quite that scary anymore.

 

Posted by LEadmin
September 18, 2012