The blaring of the alarm begged me to get out of bed. But, I didn't want to. The night before was still too fresh and I wanted nothing more than to stay under my covers and not start the day. I knew that once I was up, I had to face all of the day's challenges. Staying in bed seemed like the better choice for me to do. I hit snooze and try to drift back to sleep but my mind was already spinning, re-living the drama of the night before. The tantrum I threw at my husband when I didn't get what I wanted. The tears and sobs that soon followed. The feeling of being all alone, even though he was in the other room. All the stress that had been building inside of me had exploded and once again I was questioning what to do with my life.
Hadn't we been through this already? Like a million and one times? Me, wanting assurance and answers and him the punching bag? He's listened to the same questions over and over and over. But, with every fork in the road, I keep asking, doubtful and scared:
Am I living my life on purpose?
As my breathing slowly turned from shaky, short gasps into a steady rhythm, he asked me what exactly was my definition of purpose.
"Didn't he know this already?" I irritably thought to myself.
But, then I really thought about what he was asking. I knew in the deepest marrows of my bones that I wanted to follow God with my life and to get to heaven one day and hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." However, this has caused the great question to continue to surface again and again and again, "What does God want me to do and am I doing it?"
While examining the root of my anxiety, I realized something that had been building in me over the past year:
What I do for God will always change but how I love is timeless.
My work, my lot in life will keep me busy each and every day but how I love will steady my soul.
I think back to the chapter I read earlier in the week from Ecclesiastes. The author is asking himself a similar question, I think, and his answer is, "Everything in life is meaningless."
"Oh, that's great", I thought to myself. But, after several verses of saying what is meaningless in life - fortune, wisdom, pleasures, work - he concludes with this statement,
"Nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun" (Eccl. 8-15 NIV).
At first, I think he's just having a bad day and needs to find the Jimmy Buffet Pandora station so he can sing, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." But, the more times I read this book, the more I understand what he is truly saying:It's not what you do but it's how you live.
I think that living a life of purpose is not about accomplishing this One Important Thing but it's about loving God, loving myself, and loving others through the course of a lifetime.
When I was twenty-five, loving God was asking himself to use me one day when I was in the shower. At twenty-nine, loving myself was believing that my body could birth another baby. Just this past year, I chose to love others by dedicating countless hours to a women's conference at my church. And almost twelve years ago, my seventeen year old self who was just getting over her heart being broken said yes to a boy who seemed kind and strong at the very same time.
My purpose is not about my performance, my ambition, or finally getting to a place where I've accomplished this great achievement.
My purpose is about looking into his eyes through my tears and saying, "Yes, I will always love you." It's getting out of bed and pouring another bowl of Lucky Charms for my girls and holding Ridley just a little bit longer than what is necessary. A life of purpose begins with a daily choice to love.
My alarm rings again. Even with my worry and my fears and my doubts, I get out of bed. I shuffle into the kitchen and turn the bright light on as I cook my eggs and pour myself a glass of orange juice. Then, for a moment, before the sun peeks around the neighbor's fence, I sit down to read the true meaning of life: love God, love others, love myself.
This my friends, is our purpose.
Till next time, let your light shine!