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5.16.2012

A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE - WHAT'S YOURS?

This title is a direct quote from a reader's comment who played the "GAME PIECE" interactive blog post game.  He or she left a comment on a subject they wanted me to write about. 

I thought about that phrase, a much over-used one, made popular by a national best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California.  Though the book had an obvious spiritual message, it likewise appealed to those outside the church.  I thought all last night and this morning about my purpose driven life and what it was all about. 

In looking for my life's mission statement that I had written on a scrap of paper years and years ago, I came across cards and letters.  They were from family, friends, my daughter.  Words written by people who meant the world to me.  It dawned on me, at that moment, as I pulled out a letter dated December 7, 1998 from my then 11 year old daughter, what my purpose driven life was and is all about.  Stapled to the letter was a science assignment marked heavily by a teacher's red pen.  I giggled as I glanced over it.  Hannah was a smart kid who grew into a smart adult.  It was rare that she did not do well on anything in school.  The letter (prompted by her teacher) read;

December 7, 1998

Dear Mom and Dad,

You know that I dearly love science.  I was trying just as hard as I could.  I guess I just "bombed".  You know, I tried just as hard as I could and I spent all the time I needed on it.  I'm very sorry and it will never happen again.

Sincerely Sorry,
Hannah 

I wondered if I had placed pressure on her, if she had placed it on herself or if the teacher knew this was not her norm.  The letter was never necessary in my opinion.  I knew Hannah's heart, her intent.  Her letter reminded me of the scrap of paper, my personal mission statement, that I had been looking for.  Hannah was part of the purpose that had driven my life. 

I thought about how purposes never really change, but methods do.  The way we approach them, the prominence they have in our lives ebb and flow, but not the purposes I have had in my life.  People have clearly been the purpose of my life.  I thought back to when I was a teenager, knowing without a doubt that God had a purpose for my life that involved touching people.  I didn't know that part of that would be being a pastor's wife for 25 years.  But really, the biggest part of that purpose of touching people's lives came much of the time outside of the church in daily life interactions. 

When I was a realtor we had to write yearly goals, business and personal.  That is when I first penned the statement, the missional thrust of who I was.  To always leave someone better for having been in my presence.  To give them the gift of love and freedom to be who they were created to be by God.  To live a life being fully present in each thing in front of me - spiritually, emotionally and physically.  To foster and develop a spirit of lightness within.  That was part of what I wrote. 

That purpose has been the cause of perfect strangers crying in a store to me, telling me their life stories, neighbors and co-workers feeling free to be themselves without condemnation, friendships created that celebrate who people are and where they are at that moment, relationships with my daughter, nieces, sisters and family that are rich and deep.  It has been about being very present in the experiences I find myself in, with the event, the person, the season.  My purpose-driven life is really all about letting others express and be themselves and then celebrating it.  I want people to know they are loved, valued by me and by God who created them to be just who they are. 

Knowing you are loved, not for how you perform or how well you do on a 5th grade science paper, is freeing.  It is the foundation that allows us to be all that God truly intended for us to be.  That has been my purpose of my entire life, and still is.  Whether in parenting, friendships, work, writing, speaking, or just regular daily interactions, I want to leave people better than I found them. 

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