At some point during my childhood, I formulated a game plan for my life. I would go to college, graduate with honors, go directly to law school, graduate and get married that fall (September 25, 2010, to be exact). Then, and only then, I could start on accomplishing the real purpose for my life.
Amazingly enough, I finished this checklist (maybe not on time, but fairly close). And, you know what? Afterwards, I found new excuses why I wasn’t living out my purpose. I worked too much. I had an infant. I had TWO kids. And, even this week, I’ve caught myself thinking (multiple times) that, once the kids are in school, I can go back to focusing on pursuing my goals and fulfilling my purpose.
Aside from the obvious humor (or horror) of me thinking I had to be married in order to start living purposefully, there are two things that make me hugely sad about my line of thinking. First, if I keep going like this, I could be 85 before I’m ready to start living out my “purpose.” Second, I have effectively marginalized each season of my life. Instead of continuing down this path, I want to take a few steps back, look at the bigger picture, and give myself the advice that I wish I’d had as a teen:
Reminisce (even miss), but don’t dwell on, the past. Know your purpose. Live the present to its fullest. Think and prepare for the future.
Reminisce (even miss), but don’t dwell on, the past. One of the most annoying pieces of advice that I have repeatedly received since becoming a mother (which always seems to come when I am lamenting about lack of sleep, my toddler melting down in public, or my house generally looking like FEMA should be sent in to clean up) is this: “Just remember, you’re going to miss this.” And, I get why people say it. I may have even repeated it to another. But, it’s generally a terrible saying. It makes me feel guilty for missing another past–a past that held more sleep and less unidentifiable food (hopefully) stains, more abs and less grey hair, more free time and less mess. And, in a time where I already feel guilty about 98.5% of the time, it’s just not helpful.
So, I would like to officially change that not-so-helpful phrase to the following: “This stage in life is difficult. The last stage in life had its own challenges. And, the future is likely to have its own challenges, too. But, just like you miss sleep, alone time, and the use of your given name, you will also miss the chubby cheeks, the funny pronunciations, the snuggles and the rush of pride your toddler emits when she pees near (but not necessarily in) the potty. It’s okay to miss the past. But, make sure it isn’t impeding your ability to build sweet memories that can help you get through the challenges of your next season of life.”
I know, I know. It’s a mouthful, but I really do think it gets more to the point. If we can’t reminisce on the past, then what real purpose was there of having it?
Know your purpose. First, I would like to quickly debunk some recent theories that I’ve heard about my calling and purpose recently. My greatest calling is not raising my children. It’s just not. It is a great calling (an amazing one, in fact), and I do not take it lightly! Just looking at the surface of this statement immediately calls into question the first 27 years of my life. My purpose is not to be a good wife. It’s just not. Again, it is such an important, important part of my life, and I do not take the commitment lightly. But, again, it is not the sole reason I am here.
And after exhaustive thought, the only purpose for my life that I can come up with is this:
- To love God with all my heart, soul and mind; and,
- To love others.
It is the only overarching purpose that was applicable when I was 2, 10, 18, 22, is still applicable now, and will be applicable in every season after this. This is the only purpose that I can put a career on hold and still accomplish. And, if I can accomplish this purpose, then everything else should fall into place.
Live the present to its fullest. Please note that I said “Live the present to its fullest,” and not “Live for the present.” I think that we have a tendency to get these confused. I am resolving to take each season of life (whichever season it currently may be) as extremely important. And, I plan to act accordingly! No more waiting for “x, y, or z” to happen!
Think and prepare for the future. I don’t think that I was incorrect in having goals and a plan for my life when I was a child. And, believe it or not, some of the goals I had then, I still have now, even though I’ve nixed a few (I’m probably NOT going to be the First Lady or an ambassador to China). And, I have added plenty new goals (like retirement). In fact, I think it is extremely important and necessary to sit down and draw out a plan for the future. Just as long as the checklist doesn’t become everything.
So, now that I’ve psyched myself up, I have some living to do!
How are you accomplishing your goals and living out your purpose during this season?