The other day I had the privilege of talking to a group of twenty-somethings. We talked about purpose and calling and destiny and if there is a difference. We talked about our lives being poetry. Because, after all, isn’t that what we want–for our lives to speak?
I thought I’d share a few things we talked about. I told the lovely group that I’d put some of the notes in this space for them to access.
Since we are young we are wired with what we want to do when we grow up. We play it out before we ever have the words. And as soon as those come, it’s “When I grow up I want to be a . . .” And most things we aspire to be are of the fairytale and comic book variety. At my, officially, grown up age of almost-forty I’ve come to believe this just speaks of mankind’s heart cry to make a difference, to matter, to rescue, to save what is lost, to be cherished and a hero (heroine). Does that ever change? The language, indeed does. I can’t list Wonder Woman as my occupation or aspiration (although I’d like to think it my job title), but still, more than anything, with my life I long to make a difference, to help those in need, to do good.
Ephesians 2: 10 explains this life longing in each of us.
We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it.
The longing is there because we have been given a destiny.
How we get to that purpose is a path. At least that is what I’ve found to be true in my own life.
I’ve been journeying through life, coasting on strengths, failing majorly only to focus on my weaknesses, discovering my uniqueness, my creative output, my style of poetry (if you will), identifying true strengths, and working through pain and woundings which have given way and help me to discover what burdens my heart. This is what I’ve found to be a path to my purpose.
My friend Rebekah, says it so simply, “Calling is where your talents and burdens collide.”
So what are your strengths, lovely one? The ones you believe to be born with? The ones that came out in play when you were at your beginnings.
What are your weaknesses? What have you failed at? Where have you gotten stuck? Failure and weakness teach us a lot about ourselves. However, where I’ve gone wrong over the years is to put my focus entirely on my weakness. It has never served me well to put all my energy into trying to better where I am weak (which isn’t a bad thing per se). Putting your efforts into building your strengths is a much better return on investment. Frankly, I’ve also found the two walk hand in hand. My greatest strength can also be my greatest weakness. They are tricky those two.
One way I’ve learned and confirmed and re-directed my thinking on my strengths and weaknesses is by taking personality assessments. A few of my favorites are:
Enneagram Type Indicator (I haven’t taken this one yet, but hear amazing things about it).
What are your wounds? What hurts have bound you up? What burdens your heart? Our calling, many times, comes out of our greatest hurts. Rick Warren says it beautifully,
“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
Is your heart speaking?
Even when we know all of these things and we are moving in the direction of our dreams, of our destiny, on the path of our purpose things don’t always turn out as planned. What do we do when the next line in the poem feels gravely out of place. Put down the pen? Leave the page blank?
Sometimes dreams don’t turn out as you planned. It’s not about missing the mark or making a wrong turn it’s about continuing movement. God always keeps inventing and intervening. He can change the direction. He can start the next line.
Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].”
Our steps, our movement is directed and established.
And what I’ve been learning in recent years is that movement isn’t always seen with the eye or felt with the foot. Sometimes the greatest movement is in our hearts.
The work that is done in us is always far greater and far more important to God than the work that comes out of us. And the work that is done in us always coincides with the work that will come out of us. The two are entwined.
It’s hard to appear like you are doing nothing in this world of go-getting . . . but you’ll know the secret–while your legs are still your heart is not.
On the path to your purpose, it’s not about Hustle … it’s about hearing and yielding. It’s about surrender.
Our destiny is activated by surrender. I thought surrender would mean I’d be a missionary in Africa but surrender, as difficult it sounds, has become quite simple. It means I hold loosely to my ideas and I hold tightly to God’s hand.
This is just a picture of what my path to purpose has looked like. Everyone’s is as unique as the poetry their life speaks. Yet, I’m certain that somewhere in line and verse the cadence is the same.
I’d love to hear about your journey.
Do you feel you’ve found your purpose in life?
What has helped you in your journey to live with meaning and intention?