Monday, October 15, 2012

What Women Want—Purpose


It made the cut. Of course it would. Purpose. Women want it. We all crave to understand what ours is. And we rub this question in the confines of our minds like a worry stone, a rabbit’s foot, the corner of a beloved blanket, or rosary beads until our dying day.
Purpose is the fourth want I’m reflecting on as a response to your answers to the question I posed weeks ago, what do women want?

I came up with a few more thoughts about purpose…
 

It’s gurgled out of a newborn’s first cry

Found sprinting across playgrounds during Red Light, Green Light

It’s brushed by trembling fingers, grasping a bus ticket

It hides in award speeches

Dances until dawn with blistered feet and a raspy throat

Blooms with gratitude on a face tilted upward to catch the rainfall

It’s oftentimes untamable, unpindownable, stubbornly unknowable

It’s the call of the wild, while mysteriously also pounding pavements in well-loved socks worn with holes

Palm rubbing a back, feeding the hungry, clenched in inconsolable anger

Love poured out, sacrifice like a pinprick then machete to the heart

We thirst for it, beg for it,

the burning, germinating

in-the-gut question, “What am I doing here?”

 
 
And now for some thought-provoking quotes:

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller

“For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.” 
~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

What is your compass when it comes to understanding your purpose here? Is it important for you to have clarity about your purpose?
*photo by stock.XCHNG
 

28 comments:

  1. In my younger years (my 20s and 30s), I yearned for a purpose. It wasn't enough to fix peanut butter sandwiches and do laundry and clean up messes. I later learned that was true, but not because those things weren't important to do for my family. I learned that my purpose needed a bigger audience, a bigger cause. I thought that meant a more public purpose. I was wrong. It did mean a bigger cause to live for, but that didn't mean more people recognized my purpose. If fact, it often meant few did. When my thinking shifted and I understand that my sole purpose was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then every single word and action had purpose for the biggest audience of all: the perfect, holy God of the Universe. It gave me purpose in marriage. In parenting. In friendships. In writing. I could quit searching for purpose, I just had to pursue that purpose. It's something I continue to strive toward today, to remember that my purpose has nothing to do with myself and everything to do with glorifying God--and looking only to Him to validate my fulfilling of that purpose.

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    1. Wow, Anne. Beautiful. (As is your post, Wendy!)

      I totally relate to what Anne is saying here. And even when I totally realize my sole purpose is to glorify God, I often find myself chasing after less-than-worthy purposes. I'm constantly steering myself back on the true course.

      Great, thought-provoking post. Thank you!

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    2. I think Anne totally pinned my experience as well...at least part of it. About five years ago I really struggled with the idea of purpose or lack of it. The whole mother thing (while I adore that aspect of my life more than anything) didn't feel like enough somehow. I wanted to do something more, something "important". But it came out in a floundering, sinful way. I think there's real danger in not knowing where He wants to use us, because then we go searching for something that looks/feels like purpose and often that's just a false sense of the true purpose that only He can fulfill.
      Good stuff, Wendy! :)

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    3. Anne, thank you for this rich wisdom! I like your point about every single word and action having purpose. I love that I'll be able to come back and reread your comment whenever I need a good reminder about what it's all about.

      Heidi, I meander sometimes rather than chase or I fall into, trip over, or bump up against things I think are purposes that end up only being lessons in the bigger purpose.

      Lacie, I'm working with this concept in the book I'm writing now--the idea of motherhood creating purpose and how, as you mentioned, it can fill or leave lacking in the purpose department. At first read I completely agreed with your point about searching for false senses of the true purpose, but then I started to wonder if those too couldn't somehow lead us/guide us to Him and ultimately be interwoven with the grander one...

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  2. Oooh, that's good!!! Love the quotes! I don't know if I need details on purpose, but a main overarching one for me is found in Micah 6. About our purpose, to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. :-)

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    1. That's a good go to. Guess I'm a details type, b/c I love me some of those.

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  3. Can I just say "wow" and "amen" to everything Anne said? :)

    I've got a firstborn, Type A, achiever personality thing going and so often my tendency is to land in "I must do awesome things and meet all my goals to feel purposeful" territory. But that's just not a good place...it's way too me-dependent. My real purpose, just like Anne said, is glorifying God. And yeah, I can do that by meeting goals. But I can also do that by simply staying calm, trusting Him and opening up my eyes to the people around me.

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    1. Why yes, yes you can & I'll second that Amen!

      By trusting. I think that's a huge one--maybe the biggest when it comes to purpose b/c if we're trusting we're daring to try new things and find contentment in whatever present purpose we're involved in.

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  4. Love the Lewis quote!

    My compass is God, though I often forget to look there.

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    1. Love Lewis!

      And yeah, me too on your second point.

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  5. I love what everyone has said so far. I'm a lot like Mel...I want to achieve something big, do something "significant" with my life. I feel like God's called me to something larger than life. But I often find myself charging ahead of God, not stopping to ask what HE wants for my life, whether I'm following the path He has for me. And that's the biggest tragedy of all: that I would be killing myself, stressing out, about something that really doesn't matter, and take my eyes off the thing that really does.

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    1. Yep, I get this mentality. It's part of how He wired me (like how I blame it on Him?). Seriously though, to poke at this a bit is it not okay to want to achieve something big or significant? I guess when we're charging ahead that's where the trouble can come in, but otherwise, I see women in particular downplaying their dreams, concerned about coming across too ____________(fill in the blank).

      And to poke at it more...I'm not always clear when a goal is in His plan for my life. Half the time (okay, way more than half) I'm winging it (and yes, that's after prayer and all that jazz). I may ask what He wants but I don't always get a clear cut answer. Does this mean I should park my heels in the sand? Or do the Chariots of Fire run? I'm a runner. (Remember He wired me that way.) And yes, this is probably why I suffer through all kinds of consequences. ;-)

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    2. You've given me lots to think about, Wendy. As usual. :)

      I can't wait to someday be able to chat face to face with you about some of this!

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  6. Love the poetic expressions of purpose you posted!

    Purpose is so important, because it gives meaning to everything we do. Knowing Christ gives us that purpose.

    We, as the Church, are the main vessel God is using to reveal himself to the world (Ephesians 3:9-10)Jesus told his disciples: "Let your light shine before men is such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."

    "In such a way"... it's not just the works themselves, but the manner in which we carry them out. I believe that how we do things is what enables others to see Christ in us. So my sense of purpose extends beyond the "what" to the manner in which I conduct myself.

    The other day a neighbor angrily confronted me about something completely unreasonable. As I struggled with how to respond the Lord reminded me that I was in our neighborhood to reveal him to the lost. It so helped temper my response with humility and love. What I said and how I said it could reveal Christ in me.

    When we keep our calling in mind, it brings a sense of purpose to everything we do.

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    1. This is why I love the Lewis quote...really gets me thinking about how a purpose is carried out.

      Either for me or against me I imagine looks a lot different than the little devil or angel on the shoulder our minds conjure up.

      How cool that you could respond to your neighbor that way. I'd be much obliged if you'd come talk to a few people in my life. ;-)

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  7. I think as a Christian, God must define our purpose. There is such comfort in that. No matter what our current goal or dream is, our purpose to glorify God will never change. As long as we keep our eyes on that One thing, we'll never stray too far. It's so different from having a worldly purpose where you never know if you're on the right path and always jumping from one path to another.

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    1. I like your point about how no matter our current goal or dream, God is the constant. I always knew I'd return to writing, but ten years ago my goal was to make sure every time my baby breastfed she didn't suck all the brains out too.
      Oh, and I wanted to make sure she had the nourishment she needed.

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  8. I once heard that we may be the only Bible people ever "read." I feel a strong sense that my purpose here is to grow in my understanding of God's character, and to listen—really listen—to others' hurts and brokenness, and to be a physical, loving presence, demonstrative of God's co-suffering love, accepting people exactly as they are.

    In recent years, I've come to peace about my search for significance. I've learned how much ordinary, plain, and quiet love with those we are in a relationship with is every bit as important as those visionaries who are out there changing the world.

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    1. Powerful thought. I need to improve in the listening department. My mom insists I'd make a good counselor and I tell her two things. One, my characters are like my clients. And two, "Mom, I love to talk too much."

      And Amen to your second paragraph. Reminds of God's response to David...1 Sam. 16:7.

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  9. Beautiful prose! Finding and following God's purpose for my life, how He wants me to serve others is the purpose for my life. When I fall out of step with Him, I find myself less light-hearted, less peaceful.

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    1. Lynn, I would love to be able to sense sooner than I do when I'm falling out of step with Him. It always seems so subtle.

      And you hit upon an important point with serving others.

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  10. Couldn't agree more. Purpose is that crucial ingredient that keeps us moving. Without purpose were mired, stuck in the mud and unhappy.

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    1. Yep, it's a good kick in the pants to get out of bed in the morning instead of hiding under my comforter.

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  11. Beautiful post, my friend. My new favorite word: unpindownable. :)

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    1. Like that? ;-) I figure it's my blog & I can be easy on myself as an editor when it comes to a post every so often so I just made up a word. There you go. You get the meaning though.

      I say we create a day when we all make up words that still convey meaning. Ah, freedom. :D

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  12. Love your thoughts, Wendy. Finding my purpose has been a challenge at times because I was trying to navigate without God. Once I gave it up to him, He helped me find my purpose--to be a woman of God in all of my relationships. Sometimes I'm lacking, but He continually fills my spilled bucket of grace.

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  13. These are such great comments!

    I always want instant gratification. I want things settled, you know! So I have to say that part of my personal purpose is waiting. Yes. The waiting is actually my purpose. It's the being still, living in trust that God has it all under control.

    I'll be honest, I don't much care for waiting, even if it is my purpose, but I'm getting better at it. And I do see value in it.

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