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Posts Tagged ‘Purpose’

Purpose


With our youngest graduating from high school in five months, I have been perseverating about my own purpose or calling.

I remember well, as a teenager, being asked what I wanted to do when I graduated. I also remember my immediate thoughts to be of being a wife and mom, followed by lying and giving more ‘driven’ responses of professional goals.

Years later I discovered that I was pregnant … my life’s dreams were coming true … until, at about seventeen weeks, it’s heart stopped beating.

Twenty-one months later our ten and a half pound daughter was born. I was happy and challenged more than I ever imagined mothering to be.

The next seven years were filled with four more pregnancy losses, the birth of a daughter (who cried for two years) and the birth of our son.

My pursuit to hold the professional title of mom, was earned through PhD-like blood, sweat and tears. I awoke each day ready to go to work at my practise of mothering and homemaking.

As they headed off to school in succession, I realized it was time for a new, or more specifically, another vocation. What to do, when one grows up? became a regular question for me to ask. 

So, I went back to school … to work as an Educational Assistant. I have had the privilege of going to work, with a contented heart, for almost fourteen years, learning daily from the students I have the honour of working with.

Now … now, as my favourite three are moving into their adult lives, I see an opportunity for me to, once again, ask “what will I do when I grow up?

So I have looked at different jobs, courses and schools. I am still looking.

To this point, the only thing that keeps resurfacing, the only message I keep encountering that resonates with me is that relationships matter.

I am not sure that this message is for me, in terms of my vocational pursuits in the years to come, or in terms of me as an individual, in my life.

When I came across the words of Mother Teresa,

“we have been created in order
to love and to be loved”

I realized that, in considering what I want to do, I must first start with who I am.

Still no answers, yet all the answers are wrapped up in that core awareness that we are to love and to be loved. From that statement a stewardship of and to humanity is known.

 

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I just realized that I had not written a post for today, so today’s post is a repost from 2012. As I re-read this one, I agree with ii’s words still …

Last weekend someone asked me “why do you blog?” It was such an easy question to answer, because the one reason I blog is complete and utter selfishness, I blog for me.

After about ten months of writing everything from the insane to the serious, averaging about five posts a week, writing has become something that I rely on, that I need to do, that helps me to keep in balance.

Although there is great jesting in my house about my desire for Oprah to discover me, really, I write for me. This little corner of the cyber world is where I connect with God, where I process my hurts, where I share my celebrations, and where I just get it all out. For me, itsawonderfilledlife is my hairdresser, my bartender, my shrink. And, you who read are the flies on the wall.

Writing has allowed me to have a voice, my voice. In this venue I am still daughter, and mother, and wife, and friend, and pastor’s wife and special ed. assistant, but I am mostly just me. I am just a woman, speeding down the superhighway of aging, who loves her God, her kids and her hubby, trying to make ends meet, experiencing great successes, and dark failures. And this is the forum that I have used to help myself find reason for it all.

When I chose itsawonderfilledlife as my blog title, I did so with pshychology in my mind. I am one who looks for a reason for every event that occurs. I look for wonder, like others might look for chocolate (okay, I look for that on a daily basis too), or luck, or a break. For me, when I can see wonder in my day, I can see purpose for living. For me, a little bit of wonder can make my experiences of living purpose-filled, and in focusing on wonder, I do not spiral down into the dank world of negative thinking.

Recently I was feeling a bit bummed that my stats were lower for a particular week. I pondered different ways that I could bolster them, but that takes time. Then I re-read a couple from that week, and felt good with what I had written, and felt good as I remembered the pleasure that writing them provided. It was then that I remembered, I am doing this for me. So, I forgot about feeling bummed, and felt the pleasure of communing with my God, my thoughts and the computer keyboard. That is why I write this blog, and it’s good enough reason for me 😉 .

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There is nothing like summer break for actually enjoying, revelling in the mundane things of life.

I enjoy doing laundry, even returning to my childhood, hanging my clothes out on a line to air dry. Dusting is an art form. Cleaning toilets becomes a humble expression of love. Clearing unneeded items from closets a cleansing. Getting groceries an expression of love and care for my family.

Maybe it is because there are less demands, there is less to do, little of the “big things” in the back of our minds.

Joan Chittister said:

“The ‘mundane’ is certainly dull, I agree, and may even limit us — not only our perceptions but even the breadth of our questions. At the same time, there is something very freeing, very humanizing about the mundane. Doing dishes and buying vegetables get us back in touch with ourselves, give us time to smell the earth of our lives, give us time just to be. We will go on long after the big ideas fade and the profession ends. The question is, Will there be anything in me then? Will there be a me in me? It all depends on how I deal with the mundane.”

I believe that the greatest adventures in our lives are not found in our jobs, our education, our accomplishments. Our greatest adventures are found in opening our eyes each morning, ready to live fully, whatever may come.

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In the Waiting

I am not a good waiter,

and by waiter, I mean someone who (has to) wait.

I think that many people are not good waiters. I especially think that today, Black Friday.

Black Friday, the day that follows American Thanksgiving, is a day of reckless shopping, spending and individualism. It is the human behavioral evidence that we do not see benefit from waiting. Ironically, Black Friday falls just two days before the next holy season, on the church calendar, that of Advent.

Advent means coming, and when something is coming, someone is waiting.

Advent is about remembering the waiting for the arrival of the Messiah (as a babe) and the waiting we do now for his second arrival. He is coming again and that coming is Advent.

To know someone or something is coming is a far more exciting waiting than any other. For in this waiting is the promise that our waiting is not in vain. What we must always remember is that there is purpose, there is the attainment of skills and strength, and humility that will make us ready for the day that the promise is fulfilled.

As we walk through this Advent season, let’s try to prepare for the promise of Christ, just as we do in the gifts and food and parties of the other side of this holiday.

When we are in the waiting, ask the question,

What will you teach me through this, God?

The Bible is full of waiting for something to come. It is also full of promises that the waiting would not be in vain.

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So, what happens when the vision fades? Or changes? Or dies?

What happens when the vision perishes?

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Proverbs 29:18 reminds us that

“without a vision, the people perish.”

Those are frightening words to the ears of those who believe that the vision has faded. And when the horizon is no longer in view, it can seem as though the future plan is no longer attainable, in reach.

Whether we are talking about the vision of one person, a family, a school, a church, a business, or a nation, there can be times when unexpected events, failures, tragedies and sins that hide our ability to imagine and see the vision fulfilled. This can be devastating, heartbreaking and hopelessness can ensue.

There can be times when we think that only our human intervention can allow the vision to be fulfilled.

Humanly we might even say:

  • it is impossible
  • God must have changed the vision
  • God gave me the ability, so I will fix this

Those excuses sound very familiar. They remind me of the story of the promise, or vision, that God had given to Sarah and Abraham. When Sarah believed that it was impossible (physically) for her to conceived the child that God had promised, she took matters into her own hands, perhaps thinking that God had changed the manner of delivery of his promise (Genesis 16). The result was that Abraham slept with Sarah’s maid, and a baby was indeed conceived, but Sarah knew, as soon as she saw the growing belly of her maid, that she had done wrong (reminiscent of Adam and Eve, and their fruit tasting in the Garden).

Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest, spoke of faded visions beautifully …

“God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience. Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has! He is never in a hurry. Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry. While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us. God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work. He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal.”

I am not a patient person … I expect that most of us are not. And when we have a vision of what God is going to do in our lives, the lives of those we love, our work, our church, our community … the lack of patience in us makes us desperate, hurried, and impatient to allow God to work the details out in his perfect timing.

The visions that God gives do not change! They just do not take place in the time frame that we anticipate … God is not in a hurry … ever!

“This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming,
wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.” 

Habakkuk 2:3

 

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Recently, as hubby was cleaning up after dinner, I was griping to him about a frustration or two in my day. I think I may have done this too much lately.

He then said, “don’t take this personally (ya right … saying that only encourages me to take it personally), but I think we are both in a state of discontent right now. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might be good to look for the reason for our discontent.” For whatever reason, I did not reply, I only pondered his words. And then pondered them some more.

As much as I pondered, and as much as I tried to look at the reasons for discontent in our life (lives), there was only one consistent line of thinking that came to mind, “who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

The quote comes out of the story of Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman, chosen by the king of Persia to be his queen. It was through this position that she was able to secure the safety of the Jews throughout this Persian kingdom. It was through her understanding, that perhaps God had placed her in the position she was in for this very purpose, that encouraged her to do what was right.

But, why the discontent? Why did that verse keep recycling through my thoughts, for hours after? It is not as though, like Esther, our decisions could affect the physical lives of ourselves and those around us. It is not as though our decisions affect anyone, right?

Wrong!

That verse that has been recycling through my thoughts has reminded me of a very important reality … we do not live independently, but in community with others. We may like to think (perhaps out of a false sense of humility, or a very real sense of arrogance) that others lives are not affected by our choices, but we are not islands. We live in community, we live with others, we depend on others. In turn, others depend on us.

Maybe that is what Esther heard and understood, as her uncle Mordechai reminded her of her current circumstances (not ones she had sought or chose). He also reminded her that there was perhaps a purpose in her position, and therefore, a purpose-giver (without directly saying so).

That giver of purpose is the the Creator of our souls (our very beings), the Creator of all that is around us, the same God of Esther.

It is He who directs our paths, and it is He who creates us with and for purpose. Even our discontent is not without purpose (maybe even our griping). But, we must not sit in our discontent, we must seek it’s purpose, it’s role in the circumstances we are currently living.

Maybe hubby was right (oh boy … I can hear him snickering as he is printing and framing those words … I will never be able to live with him now), maybe we need to look for the reason or purpose for our discontent.

Maybe, we (each of us) have come to this position, this place, for such a time as this.

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I sat there looking at the four types/styles of leaders on the paper, and wondered which I might be, but with each passing moment I was more and more confused. It seemed to me that I was about half of one, and half another.

For whatever reason, it really irritated me that I could not definitively figure out which type or style I was. I was looking for black and white within a mind consumed with grey.

Finally it came to me, the following day, while I was still obsessing about my split personality. My split personality is due to being a people pleaser.

As anyone else who shares this innate need to please other people can attest to, we do all that we can to make other people notice and be happy with us and our efforts. We will even do and be who we are not, in order to attain the affirmation and positive attention of others. After years of ‘becoming’ what and who we may not be, we can end up struggling to see who we really are … who God created us to be.

Now don’t go thinking I am depicting myself (or other people pleasers) as martyrs or victims of the expectations of others. For most who seek to please others, they do it because that is what they have been taught, or it is something that feeds them. For some it is even a means of control and power, providing opportunity to manipulate or create a positive image of themselves.

Whatever the case, our gifts and our abilities can be modified by the behavior of becoming something … someone else.

This is seen so often in volunteer organizations. A need is expressed, and someone jumps to meet the need, not because it is within their unique talents (or even interest) but because they do not wish to disappoint or see the need unmet. Often this results in not having the best person doing the job. It can also result in the one doing the job being too busy to fulfill a task that they are best suited for, because they (we) are too busy filling positions to make others happy.

As I looked at the leadership qualities for each of types of leader I read, “good with paperwork” on one and “not good with paperwork” on another.
Would I choose to do paperwork?
NO.
Could I do paperwork?
Yes.
Would I choose to do paperwork if it pleased someone?
Yes.
Should I choose to do paperwork BECAUSE it pleases someone?
NO!

This could put us on a mission, to find out who we really are, not for the sake of pleasing others, but for the sake of pleasing the God who has given us a purpose and a future.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily,
as for the Lord
rather than men.”
Colossians 3:23

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord.
“plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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