As the mornings have turned a bit chilly, it’s easy to stay under the covers for just a few more minutes. Are there days that you wake up and wonder, “Isn’t there more to life than (fill in the blank)?” Whatever way you fill in your blank: being a parent, being a teacher, being a healthcare worker, being a banker, being retired… we all have days that we feel we are identified by what we are doing or not doing in our life. We identify ourselves by what we do or perhaps who we are in relationship to others. We can only be a friend, if we have a friend, we can only be a parent if we have a child, only a teacher with someone to teach. You get my drift. So, when we lose our job, or our children grow up, or we get a divorce… who are we? Do we stop being who we are?
From my earliest memories I recall being told that I was an artist and a writer. That is who I was. I went to college, became a graphic artist and ended up having a love-hate relationship with my work. Because I identified as being what my work made me or didn’t make me, I had a love-hate relationship with myself. Fast forward 25 years. Now I see myself as a child of God. As God’s creation, my self-worth is not wrapped up in my work, my relationships, or any lack thereof. At least not most days… I am human.
How did I get from point A to point B? Not through any heroics on my part. That’s for sure. When I was striving for the life that I believed I wanted and should have, I was never satisfied. No matter how hard I worked or how much I put into a relationship, there was always something that would crop up that was totally out of my control. In my teens, I tended to react with the immature, “That’s not fair!” In my 20’s and 30’s I moved into the, “Why, God?” phase. Finally, in my 40’s I realized the question wasn’t “Why me," but "Why not me?” Disappointment, dramas and traumas happen in other people’s lives, so why should I think that I’d be immune? The real question was what am I going to do with what God has put into my life? What good can come from pain and what positive things am I just not giving enough attention to in my life?
God’s miracle of creating us as unique beings extends into the unique ways in which our lives shape our purpose on earth. As Paul told the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) That’s a hard pill to swallow when life isn’t going the way you’d planned. When you lose your dream job, your health fails you, the perfect relationship falls apart or the stock market crashes the month after your retirement. The key for me has been to try to find beauty in the ashes. It may seem that our lives are created by the work we do, or the doors that opened for us, but I believe God guides us to our purpose by the doors that close. It’s in these times that God guides us toward the work that he’s planned for our lives. It is His way of reminding us that we are here as His hands and feet to do the work He had planned for our lives, not the other way around. God didn’t create us, so that He could work for us. God created His world and His people to do His work. Fortunately, God loves us. God knows that when we feel a sense of purpose or meaning, our lives are full of joy, hope, love and satisfaction. It doesn’t take lots of work to find meaning and purpose, God puts it in front of us each day with whatever opportunity He puts before us to share our time, talents or treasures. Is there something you believe would make God’s world a better place? Don’t wait for someone else to make that happen. Talk and listen to God. Talk to others about your ideas and dreams. Look for the open windows when the doors close in your path. This may be God’s way of calling you to your true purpose.