The question- why?
About six months ago I was having a conversation with someone about what they want to do with their lives. I love people and I love hearing about their lives and what makes them tick.
This particular day, I was waiting for my husband to pick me up from a party. Most of the people had left and it was just Monica (not real name) and I. I was tired and so sleepy and needed to talk to stay awake. I decided to initiate a little chit chat.
Since I had known Monica for not more than 10 days I can’t come up with a justification of why out of the blue I asked her;
“So, what are you going to do with your life?” (my sincere apologies to the chit chat police)
“You mean like a career?” I’m not sure what I meant so I let her go on without answering her.
She went on to talk about the job she wants to do and I started getting that tell-tale discomfort in my chest that I get when I feel like someone is shooting below their potential. I also realized that that’s not what I had been asking.
“No, I don’t mean that. I mean what are you here for?”
Blank stare from her.
“I mean, why are you still here on earth? What is your purpose here?”
“Well, as a Christian my purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus”
“That’s right but that is the purpose of every Christian. Right? What is your specific purpose? You. What is your unique contribution to all this? What were you designed for?”
Yap, I had properly and single-handedly just put an end to a nice and quiet evening. The sleep had sought solace in another room. I was now wide awake. Damn.
“Hmmm…Do you know what your purpose is?” she asked, tilting her head a bit.
“I’m an encourager. I see potential in people and call it out. I spur them on until they become all that they are meant to be.”
The words came out before I had a chance to think.
I may have sounded like a know-it-all. I will confess to you though, that I had no idea what I was saying until I had said it.
If I had been by myself, I would have done my very embarrassing victory dance because that was the very first time in my life that I had articulated an answer to that question. I had been trying to find that exact answer and it had been a process. I did not know that I had found it until I said it.
I was pleased. However, I had got Monica thinking and she was not going to be content with my nicely phrased words.
“So, how did you know that that is what your purpose is?”
Well, that is a good question. For me, the process started when I was fifteen. I was in a place where I wanted someone to reassure me that there was more to life than waking and sleeping and dying.
I had started wishing that God had created me as a moon instead and not a person then I’d have no thoughts and feelings and these so many questions.
As you might have read in some of my posts, I suffered from clinical depression and other disorders for a long time especially in my teenage years. This did not help my frustration at all.
It was during this time that my mum gave me a copy of Rick Warren’s “A purpose driven life”. Rick Warren in that book talks about everyone having a purpose and being designed a certain way in order to fulfill that purpose. You know like how a pot is designed differently from a computer because they have different purposes.
Anyway, that was the beginning. It took me another eight years to refine, re-examine my purpose and even though I was ‘sick’ during the time, knowing that I had something to give gave me such joy and delight, I knew there was something key about this discovery.
The process involved taking part in various activities to find out what really fitted me; reading more books on purpose, getting mentorship from various people; and while doing all this praying for wisdom and direction.
I’ve been able to just sit down and chat with a few people in my circles and help them to use their gifts and strengths and find fulfillment and for me that’s what makes me tick. I’m looking forward to learning more effective and better ways of achieving this but for now, here are some of the questions I ask;
1. What do you enjoy doing?
2. What are you good at doing? (your opinion and other people’s opinion of your strengths and gifts)
3. What work can you do without getting paid a single dime?
4. If you had all the money in the world, what would you use it for?
5. What makes you very discontented or angry about the world?
6. What things in your community do you want to change?
Usually, there is a common theme with all this, or ways in which the answers can be merged to form a mission/purpose. I encourage the person to write out a mission statement over time and keep on editing it and if the person allows me we pray together (I believe that God is the creator and He knows the purpose for everyone in this life and it just makes everything much easier to ask Him for direction) It is not usually a one day or a one month thing. For some people it has taken a year. It is usually very dependent on-
1. How much the person really wants to find their purpose and go after it.
Is he/she ready to do this? Is he/she ready to listen? Do exercises? Take up opportunities when they are given? Look for platforms to use their gifts for the benefit of others?
2. How self-aware the person is.
By self-aware I mean does the person even know what they enjoy? Do they know what they are good at?
Some people tell me that they are not good at anything “All I really like doing is sleeping and eating”. I love to sleep and eat too, as you might have read on my about page and poem but if that was the whole purpose of my existence, I do not think I would like those chips and ketchup so much anymore, it would be more of a prison sentence.
The “I’m not good at anything” line is a blatant lie. Either the person is lying to me or has been lied to by other people in his/her life.
Through the process of working with the person through answering and testing the answers to these questions and other follow-up questions that arise, I’ve been able to help some people in finding and working out their mission.
Mostly, I listen to the person and pray with them and sometimes all they need is a sound board or affirmation. Everyone has a unique journey and unique experiences. One of the things I’ve also seen is that sometimes the method of achieving the mission/purpose changes but the purpose remains the same.
There’s so much to write on the subject but I’ll stop here for now.
If you have would like to contact me directly, send me a message here.
This is one of those thoughts where you are allowed and even welcomed to disagree. This is what has worked and is working for me. If you find some points helpful, use them. If you have some points that have worked for you, please share them in the comment section. I would love to hear and learn more.
I think sometimes we only see bits of the vision but when we start moving towards it, it gets clearer and clearer. This post is meant to nudge you to ask yourself the why question and to encourage you towards your own journey of playing your part in this whole mix. To God you are not just a statistic, “even the hairs of your head are numbered”, you are important; your role is important, do not deny the world of yourself.