purpose

August 31, 2007 at 7:02 pm (Uncategorized)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the purpose of life.  I’ve been trying to figure out just what my calling may be, and how I can put it into action.  I guess I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  Chances are that won’t happen anytime soon, so I’ve got still got some time to come to some sort of conclusion.

Once upon a time, I thought I knew what I wanted in life.  I’ve gone through a whole list of potential careers, none of them being what I am doing today.  It started out as a kid.  I wanted to be a teacher.  Then somewhere along the lines I realized I could do that without actually having a teaching degree.  Looking back, I wonder if I should’ve taken myself down that road and pursued it from the get go.

A little further along in life, I became consumed by music.  The words and lyrics of a song spoke to me as nothing else ever has.  I was drawn to it, and found myself expressing myself in my own ways.  I taught myself how to fumble around on a guitar and began to write songs.  By the time high school was ending (a mere 10 years ago…yikes!) I had decided to pursue music as a career and move to Nashville.  Little did I know that it would be the first of many steps that led me to where I am now.

My first college experience was nothing to be proud of.  I rarely showed up for class, and didn’t really even try to do much of the work, if any at all.  But still, I was free.  I was on my own, and I quickly had to learn how to survive on my own.  It was lonely, and scary, and breathtaking.   Somewhere along the way I made two great friends with a common goal.  We all wanted to be a part of the music industry, in pretty much any way we could be.  We fell into a relationship with a management and were hired to handle their online media marketing and fan club.  Slowly, we gained more credibility and more clients came to us wanting our services.

I don’t really know when it happened exactly, but we all burnt out.  What used to be fun and exciting was now simply a job.  We all drifted in separate directions, again left with the question of what we all wanted from life.

As a result of all of that, we wrapped up our business and went different ways.  I took the first job opportunity I could (other than retail or restaurant…I refuse to ever do that).  I’ve alwas said that no matter what, I have to enjoy my work.  I will never settle for a job I don’t like just so I can pay the bills.  I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse.  Anyway, I began working at a program that deals with children that have behavior issues.  I did two Americorps terms there, and then managed to get a staff position when my terms ended.  That’s where I am today.

I write all of this to remember where I’ve been, and to remind myself how the small choices ultimately lead us to where we are.  I’ve constantly amazed at how such mundane, insignificant things make up the big picture of life.  That’s something I lose track of way too often.

Even more important than my “jobs” is my own personal growth.  I truly believe that, partially through genetics and partially because of circumstance, my early adolescent years shaped me into a sullen, cinical  18 year old when I ventured out on my own.  I didn’t really have anything in mind to “pursue” that would make my life feel complete.  I fumbled my way through the days, hoping it would all work out in the end.  Somehow it did.

After much soul seeking, and persistent coercion from well-meaning friends, I began the lifelong process of unraveling the parts of me that are so hidden.  With guidance and support of some amazing people, I slowly felt like the true me began to surface.

As I began to see just how crucial it is to have loving support, I began wanting to reach out to people.  If I was going to make any difference at all in the world, the least I could do was to turn around and give just as I had been given to.  Still to this day I am trying to figure out just how to accomplish these lofty goals.  It is something I refuse to take lightly.  It’s potentially the most important thing I could ever do.  Whether it is simply being a friend to someone that’s hurting, or trying to convey what I’m learning about who God truly is, the opportunities carry the risk of being completely life changing for the good, or causing more harm than was already present.  It’s such a delicate task.

So, this brings me back to my original question at the beginning of this rambling blog.  What is my purpose in life?  What is anyone’s purpose?

Years ago I attended a writer’s night at a small coffeeshop in Franklin.  A CCM artist was playing, but before they sang, there were a few no name singer/songwriters that played.  Even with all of the years that have passed since that evening, I can vividly remember the guy when he mockingly said “People are always wanting to know ‘what’s my purpose?’ and I want to tell them, your purpose is to serve God”.  I don’t know why it stuck with me so much, but the flippant tone in which he expressed such a huge idea just rubbed me the wrong way.  It felt, to me, like such a cheap, canned answer.  Of course our purpose is to serve God.  That’s the entire reason why we were created in the first place, but hearing it like that doesn’t help.  It’s like telling a drug addict that all they need to do to get better is to stop taking drugs.  The answer is obvious, but it’s the process that people have the most difficulty figuring out.

There are a million and one ways to “serve God”.  In the past, that simple phrase may have stirred up some resentment in me.  It brings to mind the Christian lifestyle that is overly portrayed in today’s culture.  After looking up the definition of “serve”, I can wholeheartedly say that is where I want to be.

According to dictionary.com, to serve means:

to render assistance, be of use, or help; to contribute to; promote; to have a definite use; to answer the purpose

Wow, why can’t we use some of those words to better explain our relationship with God.  Why does it always have to be so “christianese”.

I plan on continuing this journey for as long as I live.  I hope to never lose the desire to seek more.

No matter where I am in life, I hope my purpose stays the same.  Any career choice can have purpose.  If it doesn’t, then it isn’t worth it.

If I should choose to teach or guide people, I could  help them endure the process of life and make sense of it along the way.  I could show them that there really is a deeper meaning to everything, and that a small step in the right direction can make all the difference.

If I should choose music as a career, I could put words to the thoughts and feelings of so many people who don’t know how to express the inner workings of their hearts.  I would have the potential for making people feel not quite as alone.

If I should choose to work with behaviorally challenged children (and quite often their behaviorally challenged parents), I could assist families in working together as a unit in more positive way, allowing each family member to grow and relate in healthier ways.

If I should choose photography as my job, I would be allowing people to notice the importance of the mundane things in life, as well as helping to capture memories that will live on forever.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope and pray that you find purpose in it.

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