Naturally, I’m inclined to strive for things. I recently did one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests, again, and one of the summary statements about me said that I “easily feel empty and void of purpose” which is absolutely true. I frequently fear that I’m missing or overlooking some kind of clue God left out for me, that I didn’t de-code correctly, and that I’m on the wrong path, squandering my life and missing God’s plan completely (pre-California, anyway). I don’t think everyone struggles with this, I think it’s just part of how I am wired. I fear purposelessness. During my time spent involved with certain college ministries, and certain ministries in general, I think there may have been some overkill in living a purpose filled life that I took a bit too literally. I felt like I needed to be a missionary, or a pastor’s wife, or start my own ministry to really be working for Jesus in the world. To really be making an impact during my breath of life, it seemed like I needed to be serving Him in the most literal sense every day. I’ve had anxieties about what I should be “doing” and how to make the most of my time.
For a long time I toyed with the idea of working in a church or having some kind of ministry position, but I knew that just wasn’t for me, yet. Sometimes I want to be a kick ass business woman who makes tons of money and is savvy and strategic. Other times I want to start my own business in some capacity, and work for myself. I often come back to the idea of being a Teacher just because I long to be a staple in my community, and someone who pours into other people’s lives. I’m a good teacher. I’m good at explaining things in a way someone can understand them. I love learning and want to learn forever. I love mentoring and leading. Teacher. Perfect.
Each job that I settle on, each time I land on a new idea, I just knowwwww this is it. I’ve found my purpose. But nothing ever really settles for more than a couple of weeks. I can’t think up a job that will fill the desire for a purposeful life pulsing through my heart.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 says
What profit remains for the worker from his toil? I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He also planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor- it is the gift of God.
God planted eternity in my heart, so this explains why sometimes I’m so obsessed with the thought of my existence making an impact and having eternal purpose. It explains why my heart yearns for purpose, to see fruit from my labor on earth. It explains why the list of occupations that hover in my mind can never be decided on because I don’t land on one and get a fully formed sense of purpose. The sense of purpose that I desire from my job, and family and friends can only be met by God, which is scary and comforting at the same time. Scary because it means that every day for the rest of my life I will have to seek after, strive after, Jesus – and honestly that sounds like a lot of work. Comforting because there is nothing that I can gain or lose that will be able to add to or take away from my overall sense of purpose and fulfillment. My “fullness” isn’t dependent on any other person, or occupation, it’s dependent on the rock that is Christ, the unfailing, unwavering cornerstone of my life.
Psalm 146:3 says “Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish”.
Micah 7:5 says “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion”
My friends will disappoint me. Whoever I marry will probably at some point fail me in some way. People can’t be everything I need them to be to fill me. A career can’t be my purpose. While I might not be walking around planet earth like Billy Graham, I can take joy in my day to day and be glad in it. I can build a purposeful life through how I impact my community, and the people that I love through living out the gospel with a heart of servitude, compassion, and love.
Before I left Georgia I felt like I was searching for purpose. I felt in a constant state of strife. Now I don’t feel that constant push to figure out what fulfills me, and what my purpose is. Being pushed outside of the comfort of my family and friends, and being what feels like exiled into restoration, is teaching me where my purpose comes from. I can’t rely on other people, ever, to fill a place in my heart that was meant to be filled by Jesus. While I’m far away from the people and relationships and places that I love, I am [slowly] learning to fill the “purpose” part of myself with Christ. I never realized how much I got out of walking through life with my friends. Of pouring into them, and them pouring into me, of how much being able to help them with anything gave me a sense of purpose. As all of that has been removed, and I find myself lured away from my life, to a place that I think is meant to be an intimate time for God and me alone, I’m learning to understand that the everything is fleeting. I can’t rely on any earthly emotion or being or thing to give me a sense of purpose because those things will change. Over a lifetime people will change. Where I am will change. The only thing that will ever stay consistent is Jesus. The only thing I need to feel fulfilled is Jesus. He has put eternity in my heart, because it will take eternity to see every facet of Him. It will take an eternity of praises for me to feel like I’ve expressed my love enough.
I can have great friends. I will do good things. But all of those things, and all of those friends are just a small, tiny slice of eternity. This place and time is meant for refinement and intimacy with God, to renew and reform our minds and hearts. There is no checklist for life. I don’t need to complete x,y, and z to find fulfillment. I don’t need a certain career. I just need to know God.