I’m not too sure where to start with this, probably because I’m not exactly sure where it’s going to go. It’s difficult to formulate words, particulary to provide some kind of context when the context is a mixed up combination of conversation, situation, what you’ve read, what God’s been showing you and telling you and what conclusions you’ve drawn from that when it all stems from so much more.
I don’t think I’d be too wrong in making a wild stab that a lot of people in my age bracket (and I’ve only tasted the very start of the ‘twenties’ zone), okay probably from about the age 18 up (or even younger) that we are all on this funny round about, frustrating, curve of working out a) who we are b) what we are meant to be doing and the sum total, the frightening, seemingly unatainable definition of PURPOSE and what the means for us. Whoever we happen to be.
I did the other night, and frequently do throw the icing over the cake of defining purpose as, “What am I doing with my life?” – or more, “What am I not doing with my life, I’m so damn frustrated because it feels like I’m sitting here being a bum and not doing anything worthwhile.”
The icing is never the best bit.
The word document I opened last night in order to rant and conclude in, produced a very short statement that got no further than:
“I want to be part of something bigger than myself”
I don’t think it was meant to get further. It was certainly not eloquent nor something I’d start of writing in order to share. It was and is a want. I get the idea that it’s something in the core of being human. I also think it can be extremely selfish.
Ironically. Technically (or scrap that word as it’s too steel and concrete). We are part of something far bigger than ourselves. We often forget it. We often choose to ignore it. We often try to alter it to suit and make us feel good. We try to redefine it. We try to fit ourselves perfectly within a corner of it. We like order, control and knowing what, when, who, how, when and why.
What frustrated me in regards to ‘purpose’ is that I know perfectly well the above. I know that God’s working out of us and around us and over us this thing we choose to dob ‘plan’. Yet I still distinctly want to know my role, I want immediate gratification or at least the clear lead up to it, I want (even if I hit one of those unhuman humility points) to see results even if they are God’s. It’s the ‘knowing’ I’ve played a bit, been available etc. (ie: It’s really not humble at all).
My conversation the other night led its way into how I concluded that life for me now is very much less about shaping me (which is what last year was quite distinctly about) and more about what I guess I in a round about way coined, ‘living it’.
“How do you work out purpose? The chief end of man is to… glorify God right? Yeah. but what’s that going to look like? I can love God all I like from my mind and my words, but what kind of life is that? I’m not doing anything?”
“I spent last year, the year before that even doing the character refining stuff, the focus thing. Sure its always going to be happening, but I’m terribly sick of just focusing on myself. It was good, it was hard, it was amazing, challenging, horrible, wonderful but it’s like that season is in some way over… It’s like I’ve smoothed out the bigger things and now I (with God) just have to work on the smaller things – but they aren’t so much blocking the way, just things that will ease out with time, with experience, with God. Yet if Im totally fixated on the smaller things, I’m missing a whole lot more.”
It’s disturbing when the ‘Do’ gets in the way because it hauls in ‘I’ with it.
Something stuck out quite distinctly at me from Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell) this evening. It’s a bit strange that it hadn’t properly come up before in my ‘purpose thinkings’. It’s a concept that I grasped at some stage last year and it was one of those gold, turn the lights on moments. Not one of those you should forget.
I have pottered for a long time around characer refinement and I was struck quite speechless the other day around something my sister Emily said. “Sometimes your awareness doesn’t help” (Context was that of the totally mundane, “You have to wipe the table after you’ve cleared it!”, “I’m aware of that”, “Sometimes your awareness doesn’t help.”)
It is a fantastic thing to pursue God in working at recognising how we should live but unfortunately we (I in this case) forget something rather fundamental.
And this is what I’d forgotten,
“The issue then isn’t beating myself up over all of the things I am not doing or the things I am doing poorly; the issue is my learning of who this person is who God keeps insisting I already am.
Notice these words from the letter to the Philippians: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” (3:16)
There is this person who we already are in God’s eyes. And we are learning to live like it’s true.” – Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis p.143)
I don’t think it’s a mistake that our ‘purpose’ so to speak is wrapped up so tightly in our identity. We were and are made in the image of our Creator. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” – Acts 17:28
It is still and will continue to be frustrating at times in wanting to know the purpose that fits the dictionary definition of, “To intend or resolve to perform or accomplish.”
There is the other definiton though and that is, “The object toward which one strives or for which something exists.”
We are called as Solomon concludes to, “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecc12:13)
Our lives might just be working out how to do that.
and if you need more to think about,
“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”