Purpose Full

7:30 AM

Purpose.

I've been thinking about that lately...every second for the past few months. When I was little, purpose seemed so simple: Some day I was going to do great things for God (i.e. set up a veterinary clinic from a creation perspective - hey, you gotta give me credit for creativity). This day I played Breyer horses and My Little Ponies and sketched diagrams for my pet store.

I'll admit, fitting in the ferret cages among all the mice and rats was rather a tricky business. As far as difficulty goes, that was it.

Then I turned fourteen and things got complicated. For instance, the minute I dropped interest in Littlest Pet Shop and American Girl, I had to find other ways to fill my time. It would have worked out well (books, books and more books) if my mother hadn't been wise enough to push me off the couch, off the computer and into the real world of womanhood...and housecleaning.

But overall, I didn't worry too much about my purpose. I was only fourteen, you know. And then I was fifteen. But I had life figured out: the famousest youngest writer of all time, married at eighteen, soon-to-be mother of thousands and ten thousands. I would keep a house, write in my spare time and when I died, I would look back on my life and sigh happily. Fifteen wasn't all roses and peaches, mind, but I still felt purpose.

Then I hit sixteen, and after sixteen years of perfectionism and a teenagehood filled with questions and curiosity, I suddenly realized, "Houston, we have a problem."

I didn't have a purpose.

All the books I started failed and I'd rather not discuss the possibility of wading back through fifty different Word documents and piecing them back together. I began to see that maybe love wasn't always happily ever after. I still vacuumed and cooked macaroni and cheese for lunch...but those times when I wasn't doing something for someone else - discussing problems with a friend, helping my mother out, volunteering with the cutest kindergartners in the county - I felt like a failure.

What was my purpose? I did things and people willingly (rather overwillingly) praised my high-minded ideals, my mature outlook on life, my eagerness to serve. They were happy with me.

I wasn't happy. I wanted something more. Something big. But nothing seemed big enough. I wrote, and people responded. I got my first fan mail from Oregon a few years ago. People tracked down my phone number to personally thank me for my essays. I won contests and was a teensy bit of a celebrity in my own right. I saw God working through it - but it wasn't enough.

I served. I babysat and worked with younger grades in church and the community. I hugged and praised and big sistered a bunch of cute kids. I tried to help out my mother with the home and developed a keen dislike of the upstairs vacuum cleaner and an absolute adoration of my youngest siblings in the process. God has blessed others - and me - through my service. It still wasn't enough.

And you know, though I sound heretical, my goals of being a wife and a mother and a homemaker...they weren't enough either. They still left something wanting in my soul.

Service - minstry - homemaking: they're huge, but I never felt complete in doing them. They didn't encompass everything that I was, everything that I wanted to be, everything that I was hoping for - whatever that was. They didn't cover the times I sat down and enjoyed a good Shakespeare play. They didn't include the rambles through the sunset and tall grass, hair flying, startling yellow butterflies.

What intrinsic value were they? A waste of precious minutes that I could be using towards other people?

What is the chief end of man? What is my purpose? My chief end...it's to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Back in Eden, they didn't have poverty to allieve, illnesses to cure, sins to confront. They worked, yes; but when I read Genesis, I don't primarily see a life of ministry to others. I see a relationship with the Creator.

He didn't make us to evangelize. Our chief end wasn't to further the comfort or enlightenment of mankind. Our chief end wasn't for ourselves - it wasn't for man - it was for God.

Service was not an end in itself, which was what I missed: it was a means to an end, chiefly, a life dedicated to walking with the Lord. I was made for His enjoyment and pleasure: and I was made to enjoy Him back.

I could run through the fields and walk through the woods and laugh at the baby and melt over beauty because I was made to enjoy the good things He gave.

This was big enough to live for. This encompassed every single area of my being - my work, my desire, my passion, my reason and my emotion. I don't know if I'll end up single and published; if I'll teach Sunday school till my dying days; if I marry the man I love and raise an army of children. I don't know, in that sense, what my purpose is in life. The details are fuzzy and change rapidly. But overall, I know: to glorify God...to serve Him...and to enjoy Him.

Forever.

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5 impressions

  1. I am a 47 yo mom and through 27_ years of marriage, I have often felt the same way...not knowing my purpose. Yes, I knew it was to be a GOOD wife and mother, yes again, to be good to all my family and friends, but I also knew there was more..or it felt that way. But I too have learned that glorifying G-d encompasses them all and is the sum total of all I strive to do...but it seems you have learned this at an early age and that is AWESOME! You will feel a better sense of completeness as you journey forward...understanding things like this. Although I AM a little jealous....lol...

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  2. My mom always taught me that this is why we are on the earth: To know God, to love Him, to Serve Him and to be Happy with Him in Heaven when we die. And I have often felt like you do. And yes, we should always reflect back to what our purpose is!

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  3. Isn't it so funny when one thing just keeps popping up over and over over a small period of time? Yeah, I think you can relate ;) I just wanted you to know that I have been thinking about the issue of purpose (my purpose) for a few days now and not only that, guess what was talked about this morning at church? Isn't it cool how God does stuff like that! Thanks, Bailey, for letting God speak to me through you. :)

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  4. You hit the nail on the head. So many times we "think" we have a purpose, but in reality we don't. Take Marines for example. We have two purposes; 1)mission accomplishment and 2)troop welfare. Now as you said our chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.(Appartenly all those catacisms are paying off) But I believe I have a special calling as a Marine. Mission accomplishment is our primary task. So, look at it in light, my mission is to go into the world and make discpiles(spelling?). The government pays me to go into the world, only exception is that bullets are flying by my head. I expect to deploy to Afganistan within a year of completing training. So a perfect opportunity to share the good news. And troop welfare, pretty self explanatory(spelling again?) Keep the believers encouraged (or as we say in the Corps, motivated) So good on you for realizing that now. I didn't until Black Friday (ask me later). Semper Fi and God bless.

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  5. Fantastically written, Bailey. You are a consistent delight...You are so apt at pulling out a topic that touches my soul and grappling with it in a competent manner. And your conclusions leave me exhilarated and satisfied.

    Well done, as always.

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