I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live with purpose. I’ve been working on a new book proposal and my main character is going through this time of dealing with disappointment and reexamining her life–and she decides she wants to start living with purpose. So, of course, I’m going through this with her and trying to figure out a way to put into words what this might look like for her.
Purpose? What does this mean to me?
Hmmm. Well, this might look different in specific areas of life. For example, as a Christian, I believe my purpose is to know God and to love Him, to live with integrity, to love and serve others. Last week we took Ashtyn in for her first round of shots. During our very first visit, her doctor mentioned casually that he’d worked in Africa for a while years ago. So last week, I asked him about it. He said that about ten years ago he and his wife felt like they were frustrated with the rat race, with the fact that life seemed to be just about gaining material possessions. They decided to move their family to Africa. Why? Because they wanted to serve. So, in order to live with purpose, this doctor and his family moved to a place where there was very little food, where drinking a Pepsi is a luxury, where life looked completely different for them. All because they wanted to be able to really know what it feels like to live a life of service.
To me, that sounds like purposeful living. In a big way. And it’s inspiring. But what about the small ways? The small ways make a difference too. Maybe it looks like being available to a friend who’s going through a difficult time. Or listening to someone who needs to process something they’re going through. Maybe it’s giving a little gift to show someone you care. Or writing a letter to tell someone you thought of them. Or spending a few minutes to pray for someone you barely know. Or even spending some time praying for those you do know. Maybe it’s holding your baby and taking a moment to recognize that these moments go fast–absorb all you can. Letting go of that anger you had toward your spouse. Forgiving him or her, without even telling them you were angry. Just moving on and choosing to pick your battles wisely. Maybe it’s something as small as cooking dinner for your family. Or enjoying a really good glass of wine.
Living with purpose. I want that. I want to be amazed by the mountains, even though I see them every day. I want to still love curling up with a good book that I’ve read a dozen times. I want to really appreciate a good cup of coffee. I want to feel excited when we pull out the Christmas tree. I want to be the kind of wife who holds her husband’s hand when they walk together. I want to be the kind of girl who dances with her sisters. I want to laugh until I cry. I want to be the kind of woman who prays for her Compassion kids and hurts for those who are suffering. I want my friends to know I care about them. I want to smile when I hear a really good song. I want Ashtyn to always know she’s loved.
I think if anyone lived with purpose, it was Jesus. In 33 years he changed history. Think of all the random people he touched that we don’t know about. I think he made a difference every day. I think he absolutely lived in the moment, but with the knowledge and understanding that there’s so much more ahead. To be fully alive but to keep in mind that this life is just a step away from what’s beyond. To understand that it’s so important for someone’s soul to be reconciled to God, but that it’s also so important for that person to have something to eat today. Jesus lived that way. He healed and ministered and taught–but don’t you think there were those moments when he just laughed with his friends? When he enjoyed a really amazing sunrise. When he tasted a delicious meal. When he felt the warm hug of a true friend. When he cried from pain. When he sensed death but held on to his courage.
I think living purposefully happens even when we’re in pain. Like the day Ashtyn was born. Pain, definitely. But it was also the day I became a mother. I’d do it all over again to hold her even for one day.
So . . . my conclusion. Being purposeful is being like Jesus. Having a servant’s heart. Being a really good friend. Living in the moment with the awareness of what’s really important, what will last. Understanding how blessed I am and being grateful.
Sounds good to me. That’s how I want to live.