We all have an innate desire to have our lives matter and to know that after we are gone, we have left some sort of mark on the world, even if it is simply in the minds and memories of our friends and family. Social media seems to add to this pressure as we see numerous quotes about living out our highest purpose and postings by people who seem to be leaving us behind in this race to a meaningful life. It's easy to doubt that we are achieving what we think God wants us to achieve, especially if we don't think that what we are spending a bulk amount of our time doing each day is valuable to anyone, especially to Him.
This search for meaning and purpose is nothing new for me but I've been on the fast track recently. I am entering that dreaded mid-way point in my life between the life I knew to a life I don't know at all. My vocation for the past almost 30 years has been primarily as a stay-at-home mom, or as some like to call it "domestic engineer" in the attempt to "sugar-coat" it. Whatever it is called we all know what the job is.
I can relate to the feelings that come along with any job where you don't feel valuable, often seem to be taken advantage of, question whether or not you have somehow become invisible, and hope for anything to happen that could possible end the constant monotony of your duties. I've been embarrassed to answer the question "so what do you do?" or hurt by the comments like "I just don't know how you can do that day in and day out".
So, as my time as a stay-at-home mom has been approaching the end, I have been on the search for what I can do that will give me a sense of meaning, of contributing to the world, of being all that I can be! I'm excited to have discovered a love for Life Coaching and have gone through training programs the past couple of years to get ready for the new life that is before me. This new venture is filled with the hope for meaning I have been searching for.
But...what if I have been looking at this whole purpose thing wrong all of these years? What if I've been searching for a sense of value that I thought came from every other source of work others were engaged in while missing it in my own experience? What if the "grass is always greener" scenario is truly a myth?
The light started to go on for me during a surprise party my family had for me on my 50th birthday. My kids are all artists and very creative so they had an elaborate 6 course meal for our extended family that was like no other. One of my sons who is a great chef planned each course around facts they knew about my life. Another son presented me with a written description of these facts folded into origami shapes. I know...it was pretty intense. But what got me was that my four sons all knew things about my life. They told me what they appreciated about me and what I had meant to them. All of a sudden, I mattered and I saw exactly how I mattered and why.
That experience changed my entire outlook on what it means to have purpose. Francis Chan says "God's definition of what matters is pretty straight forward. He measures our lives by how we love." God says the same thing in Matthew 12:30-31 about the greatest commandments being loving God and then others.
I'm sometimes slow to catch on, but it seems to me that our greatest purpose is simply to connect to, encourage, be a good example for, support, be kind to, and most of all love others. We are called to do that in everything that we do, especially in our "workplaces" wherever they may be and whatever they may entail.
Nelson Madela says "There is no passion to be found playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." Maybe the more that we desire is simply having a bigger influence on those we work with. Maybe that's real the real meaning is hiding.