It may be time for all of us to stop obsessing about our purpose.
Does that statement shock you? I can assure you it did me the first time I thought it! After all, our purpose is us, right? It’s our heart and soul, who we are, who we’re meant to be, what we’re meant to accomplish. Our imprint on the world.
Purpose is a buzzword right now for women. Not so much for men, who seem to bind their purpose to their career easily. They may be a husband and father, but their worth and identity is so solidly wrapped up enough in their job that it’s uncommon to find one who ponders his “purpose.”
I think we need to stop.
And we women don’t just ponder our purpose, we agonize over it. We scour the internet for articles about finding our purpose (I put “women and purpose” into the Google search box and gave up reading headlines after 25 pages of them). We take personality tests (how many of you are currently obsessing over your Enneagram?) to identify our strengths and weaknesses and the ways we think and operate and relate to others, hoping that will help us identify our true purpose.
We pick our friends’ brains: “What do you think your purpose is? What do see mine as?” We graduate college and insist we must know our purpose in order to search for and find the right job, the perfect one that “fits us.” We get married and discover quickly that while being a good and healthy wife is our desire, the position of being a wife doesn’t feel like a “purpose.” We lose our jobs and wonder if that path wasn’t our purpose and we missed it somehow…and how we’re now supposed to find it. Our kids grow up and move out, and we feel we lose our purpose.
At every stage of our lives, we are in what I believe to be many seasons. A season is what we spend our time on. If you are a mom, that is not the only thing you focus your life on, although it ranks as the most important. You also work and may be a wife, have lots of friends and activities like church or a book club or a volunteer position, or possibly a family member who needs your help. You have many seasons within the season of motherhood. Even if you truly thought motherhood was your only season, you quickly discover there are different seasons based on your children’s ages and needs… and your age and needs as you move through their lives with them. We recognize that we live in many seasons of our life at one time.
Our purpose can be found within each of us and is lived out every single day.
The same is true for purpose. Scan your life to date and think about all the things you’ve done, the relationships you’ve nurtured, the changes you’ve instigated or endured, and the challenges you’ve faced. In the midst of each of those was purpose. Your purpose is to be you—to tackle your education, job, family, friendships, challenges, fears, heartaches, triumphs, stumbles—to the best of your ability, with the tools you have at the time. You have many purposes at once! Right now mine are to love my husband well, advocate for abused foster children with every ounce of patience, empathy and integrity I can muster, be the most supportive mom I can to a missionary daughter and son-in-law, love my grandson as best as possible from long distance, care about my clients’ needs and—even more so—my friends’ hearts. And my purpose must include myself as well—to nurture my own heart, my faith, and my health. Part of finding our purpose is recognizing the significance of our every day.
Certainly, you can try to pinpoint a particular purpose by asking yourself questions to help define what you’re passionate about. “What do I enjoy?”, “What am I good at?” and “How can this talent or hobby help others?” can help you focus and refine your passions and add depth to your overall purpose in life.
But, ultimately, our purpose cannot be summed up in one word or defined by one of the many roles we have in any given season(s) of our life. Our purpose is to be our very best me. That doesn’t mean we don’t trip and fall, sometimes fail miserably, or question what we’re doing at any given time. Women of grit and grace don’t lose their purpose when that happens. We let every life experience teach us and refine us, helping us to be women of strength for the ins and outs of the days, years and seasons that fall within the purpose of just being us.
For more encouragement on your purpose, start with:
Anatomy of a Strong Woman
Does Finding Your Purpose Really Matter?
Not Sure How to Answer the Question: “What’s Your Why?”
What My Faith Says About My Purpose
Unsure of Your Purpose? Discover It With These 5 Steps
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