This summer was the stuff of dreams for me- I traveled to two continents, got all tanned up, hung out by the pool, was in a dear friend’s wedding, and did all the classic fun summer things one is supposed to do as a 20-something with 2 months of no work and all play.
Don’t get me wrong- I loved every minute of it. Mostly.
You see this summer, despite all the amazing places I traveled to and all the experiences I had, it was all about me. All about where I traveled. All about what I experienced. All about my awesome pictures. All about my new Instagram account to document my picture perfect summer.
Those few months, I let my wanderlust and pursuit of adventure consume me. I was so burned out from school and so tired of the daily grind that shaped my first year of PT school. I yearned to see more, do more, and be more. I wanted to feel the thrill of travel and get high on the rush from wandering the world.
I was looking for purpose in my pursuit of happiness.
Now, we all need to rest now and again; take a vacation and get away from the monotonous day-to-day, but I went to the next level. Somehow I thought that if I could just get to July, and begin my globe-hopping journey, my life would take a turn for the better and all my travel would let me find whatever it was I wanted so desperately.
I came back and started school- aimless and dissatisfied.
My sole purpose of the summer, whether I realized it or not, was to satisfy my own desires. I expended very little effort to contributing to the world around me other than to get as much enjoyment out of it that I could.
It’s funny you know, a person never realizes how tedious it is to live solely for your own happiness. The essence of happiness is in a constant state of flux, shifting as the sands that blow through a desert. It is fleeting and at the end of the day, month, year, whatever, it does not endure.
But purpose endures.
Purpose is what allows you to be content where you are, what allows you to pour into the lives of the people around you. The more time you spend in one place, the more time you have to build relationships and to find your niche of service.
So what is your purpose?
That, I can’t tell you. I CAN tell you that I get closer to finding my purpose when I am seeking out God’s will for my life. This task is never-ending but always fulfilling. For me, it begins with prayer, but also the tried and true “guess and check your work” method from learning math in third grade. Volunteer someplace where you think you can contribute, even if it may not be a strength.
Sometimes our purpose may not to be simply to help others, but to challenge our character to grow in strength and diversity.
In serving the church, I’m still figuring it out, but I guarantee I won’t get any closer without stepping up and trying to find where God wants me. Right now, I’m volunteering with teaching Sunday school to preschoolers. I know my calling is NOT kids ministry, but hey, my purpose is to be a working member of the body of Christ and if this is my purpose for these few months, then I will serve joyfully.
My pursuit of happiness this summer delivered. I was happy!
I was also selfish in my desire for my happiness to BE my purpose. Life is about so much more than making myself happy! Because, as I’ve already said, happiness is temporary, but purpose is enduring.
Luke 19:10 states, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus’ purpose in coming to this world is clear- He came to earth, out of love, to save the broken, the hopeless, and the desperately lost. Without His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection, we have no hope. We have no purpose for life beyond temporary happiness.
BUT with Him, the possibilities are endless, with countless doors wide open if we choose to take the first steps. In this Christmas season and as the year comes to a close, I challenge you, take a moment to reflect on your purpose in life.
Where is your focus? Are you simply going through the motions of seeking to fulfill the desires of a temporary life? Or is your gaze turned towards heaven, towards the will and desires of a God who loves you so much He sent His Son in the most humble form of a baby who was born with nothing?
“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
You are called to a purpose greater than your happiness. No matter where you are in life, God has a plan and purpose for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Don’t sell yourself short. You can do so much better than simply pursuing happiness. Pursue your Purpose.
Best wishes and Merry Christmas,