The Power of Purpose

Purpose – it is a concept that is not often talked about anymore, and yet it is at the heart of the human existence. We were created on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose. We were never meant simply to take up space and consume oxygen. No…there is more to this life than that. We are were created with this sense that we were meant to do something specific, contribute to society and the world in some tangible fashion. Our sense of purpose is that source of our hope and life force. It is the reason that we get out of bed in the morning. And it makes life worth living.

Purpose, in general, in defined as “the reason for which anything is done, created, or exists; the proper activity of a person or thing.” The implication here is that there can be improper activity, or maybe a misunderstanding of purpose. Myles Monroe states in his many books on purpose that “if you don’t know how something is meant to function, you will misuse or abuse it.” This applies to anything that has a determined purpose and function. Purpose has a way of giving form and direction to your life that otherwise doesn’t have any. The bottom line here is that, if you choose not to seek out your purpose in life, or you have no sense of why you are here on this earth, you will abuse the life that you have been giving. And abuse comes in a variety of forms – partying too much, lack of discipline and responsibility, lack of accountability, treating your body like an amusement park instead of a temple, etc. When your life lacks purpose and direction, you are headed for disaster and destruction, and the implications can be profound.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in a man’s life are the day he is born and the day he finds out why.” That’s the power of purpose. It becomes your modus operandi in life’s journey, the thing that gives your life meaning and creates the foundation for a legacy that you can leave for your children and grandchildren. This is something that we often lose sight of. Everything that you do – every choice you make, every direction in life that you choose – has generational implications. How you live life in front of the next generation is how they are going to conduct themselves as adults, and how they will teach the generation after them as well. You see, purpose is not just about you, and the sooner you realize that, the better impact you can have.

Purpose possesses the power of influence. Your purpose is tailor-made to who you are and the experiences you have had in your lifetime, as well as those things and areas that you are most passionate about. Discover what you are passionate about, and I guarantee you it will lead you to your purpose. The saddest conversation I ever had was with a gentleman who was in his late 40s and had no idea what his purpose was in life. Here was a man who had served his country in the Marines for years, and now worked security in the prison system. Both his parents were still living, and active in their church community. But he, for some reason, had not found what his purpose was. Or rather, he wasn’t actively seeking out his purpose. I found it incredibly disheartening to see this man at this stage of his life, with absolutely no sense of who he was or what he was meant to be in life. He just existed to take up space and consume oxygen. Sure he had a job that provided for his basic needs, and some of his wants, but his life lacked the impact he was meant to embody on this side of eternity. He was aimless.

How many people are walking this earth aimless? How many people are simply going through the motions because society tells them to, but they aren’t really living because they fail to realize that they were created with a purpose in mind? How profoundly sad that they lack an innate sense of self and a sense that they were meant for something bigger than themselves! There is a story about George Washington Carver that tells about how he came to discover the many uses for the peanut. He was having a conversation with God about himself and his purpose in life, and he asked God, “What was on your mind when you made me?” And God told him, “That’s too big a question for you to ask me.” So George thought for a moment and then he asked, “What was on your mind when you made the peanut?” And God replied, “That’s a question that I can answer.” That story always makes me smile, because George Washington Carver was not just bold enough to seek out his purpose in life, but he went to the right Source to find the answer. You see, there will always be someone who thinks that they know what you are supposed to do with your life. Your parents may have high aspirations for you. Your friends may be able to see what you are good at, where you are talented. But none of them created you. There is only one person who will be able to tell you for certain what you were created for, and that is your Creator.

Just like there is only one person who can tell you who you are, there is only one person who can tell you what your purpose is meant to be.  Your Creator is the one who gave you your raison d’etre when you were created. He created you unique and with a built-in purpose that justifies your existence on this earth. Discovering your purpose in life is by far the most defining moment of your entire life journey. There is nothing like it, because it has the power to define who you are and with whom you surround yourself. There is nothing wrong or arrogant about only wanting to surround yourself with like-minded people, because they will encourage your pursuit of purpose, instead of drag you down. And don’t let anything or anyone deter you from seeking out your purpose in life. Those are usually the people who somehow perfectly content to take up space and convert oxygen to carbon dioxide. They live to survive; but we were created to THRIVE. Don’t settle for simply going through life existing, going through the motions. No, beloved, you were meant for so much more than that. You have a purpose, and you were meant to thrive and flourish and live abundantly.

So, the question is, what was on God’s mind when He created you?

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Positively ME

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I thought that I would be talking about purpose for tonight’s post, but instead I feel that I should share from my heart and be transparent. This past weekend I attended a women’s conference that was themed around being seen, being heard, and being known by God. For me, the most incredible part was that I could be me, with all my shortcomings and weaknesses, and be accepted and loved and encouraged in a safe space with other women who were seeking God and yet willing to admit those same shortcomings and weaknesses. It was a very comforting and cathartic experience for me. You see, I have always been a strong woman. I have a strong personality, and it is something that has become a double-edged sword for me. Those who have been around me for an extended period of time, have come to see me as a formidable source of strength and encouragement for other people. And, most days, I embrace that.  However, the unfortunate drawback of being the strong person in your inner circle is that they often forget that you are human too. So, when you have a moment of weakness, it becomes this monumental occurrence, instead of one human expressing a moment of weakness to another human who is equally susceptible to moments of weakness.

What I found to be so profound and such a blessing this weekend was that I was allowed to own the fact that there are things in my life that I struggle with from time to time, and be met with unadulterated compassion. I can be really hard on myself. It’s true that I am my own worst critic in life, but here, in this space with these women of faith with feet of clay like mine, I found genuine grace. When I admitted that I struggle with feeling like a failure, I wasn’t met with spiritual clichés or dismissed altogether. I looked into the eyes of my sister in the faith as I shared from my heart, and discovered that I was not alone in the way I felt, or the struggles that I face in life. I realized that, more than anything, I simply want to be accepted for who I am, with all my flaws and struggles and moments of weakness. I want to be able to look into the eyes of at least one person in my life who appreciates my strengths, but makes room and provides a safe space, full of grace and unconditional love, for my weaknesses. And this weekend, I reconnected fully to my First Love. This weekend, the unconditional love that I have been seeking after all my life materialized right in front of me once more, and I encountered Love in a way that I have never encountered before.

You see, the abundant life that Christ spoke about was an abundance that flowed from the inside out. There is a God encounter so profound, so life-changing, and so deep that it draws out of your heart and soul such a sense of connection to your Creator that nothing can shake your confidence in His love for you. This weekend, I fell in love all over again with the Man who gave His life for me. I had been going through life, encountering people and things and places that saw how strong I could be, and chose to only see that. I suffered in silence, in private, without a second thought, because I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be human. I had been robbed of the very thing that brought me life – my humanness. I couldn’t be emotional, or sensitive. I couldn’t be upset or fall apart. I couldn’t live, because other people’s lives crowded out my ability to live fully and authentically. But the most important thing I learned about myself this weekend, and my relationship with my Creator, is that I don’t have to do anything but be me with Him, and that’s enough. I don’t have to be strong, or smart, or brave all the time. I don’t have to be articulate or profound. I don’t have to be flawless or have it all together. Because He sees me just the way that I am, every strength and weakness; every mountain and every valley; everything I am proud of and everything that I have allowed to cause me to feel shame. He sees me, ALL OF ME, and He still loves me UNCONDITIONALLY. I don’t have to put on a brave face or put on a show in order for Him to accept me or want to spend time with Him. He sees ME, He loves ME, He knows all about ME, and He wants me just the same. Not only that, but He thinks I’m AMAZING! He’s enamored with me, obsessed with being in relationship with me, so much so that He sacrificed a part of who He is in order to bridge the gap, mend the rift that was torn when Adam and Eve fell in Eden. Just for me! He sees my heart and soul, and says she’s beautiful, an incredible work of art. This is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I don’t know where you are in life, or what has happened in your life that has you worn down and torn down. But this one thing I know for certain: Your Creator sees you, flaws and all. He knows you, inside and out. And He wants to have a deeply, intimate relationship with you, where His all-encompassing love can wrap you up so tight that it mends all the broken places. Because, the truth is, I am broken just like you, and I have been more broken in the past. But the love of Jesus has made all the difference. He loves me, and you, enough, to walk with us on the journey to wholeness. And it doesn’t require that you do anything before coming to Him. You don’t have to get yourself together before you come to Jesus, because that’s His job, to put you back together, whole and healthy and complete. Don’t hide from Him because you think that you are unworthy; He doesn’t care about that. He will do the work with you, so long as you are willing to do the heart work with Him. Take it from me – there is no other love like the love that He will pour onto your soul. The warmth and healing and restoration that takes place in the presence of a loving and compassionate Creator is the most incredible encounter you will ever have in your lifetime.

I’m broken, and I’m okay with that. It may make other people uncomfortable, but I wasn’t created to make other people comfortable with who I am. I was created to reflect the glory of God in the earth. He is more than about to redeem and restore the broken places in my heart and in my life, where I have been humbled and brought low by the trials of life, and raise me to a place where I can openly share about the pain and turmoil that He was able to turn around and use for my good and the good of others. I’m so glad that He sees me and knows me and wants me, ALL OF ME. And the same goes for you, dear one.

 

SELAH.

You Are Special

I want you to meet a dear friend of mine – Punchinello the Wemmick. Yes, that’s his name, and a Wemmick is a person made of wood, kind of like Pinnochio. But Punchinello has a problem. He is not what the other Wemmicks would consider a good Wemmick. He’s not the prettiest Wemmick, and he’s a bit clumsy it seems. And, in a town where the inhabitants walk around all day giving gold stars and grey dots, this doesn’t bode well for Punchinello. Since he wasn’t quite the best Wemmick, it earned him A LOT of grey dots. I mean, he was covered in grey dots from all the other Wemmicks who looked down on him because he didn’t fit THEIR definition of a Good Wemmick. Poor Punchinello felt that he was beyond all hope… until he met Lucia. She was different from all the other Wemmicks in that she didn’t have any gold stars or grey dots on her. None. And when Punchinello questioned her about why that was, her response was that she spent time every day with Eli, the woodcarver who made the Wemmicks who lived in that little town. When Punchinello further inquired as to why she did this, she encouraged him to go see Eli for himself. Everything in Punchinello told him that Eli wouldn’t want to see him because of all his flaws and the fact that he was covered in grey dots. But what he found out when he mustered up the courage to climb the hill to Eli’s cottage was quite the opposite. Watch and see what happened…

“Punchinello?” The voice was deep and strong. Punchinello stopped. “Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you.”

Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. “You know my name?” the little Wemmick asked.

“Of course I do. I made you.” Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench.

“Hmm,” the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. “Looks like you’ve been given some bad marks.”

“I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard.”

“Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.”

“You don’t?”

“No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”

Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling.

Why do I matter to you?”

Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”

Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this – much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.

“Every day I’ve been hoping you’d come,” Eli explained.

“I came because I met someone who had no marks.”

“I know. She told me about you.”

“Why don’t the stickers stay on her?”

“Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them.”

“What?”

“The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about the stickers.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“You will, but it will take time. You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground. “Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. “You are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.” Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, “I think he really means it.” And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.

 

The first time I heard “You Are Special” by Max Lucado, I instantly identified with Punchinello. But, then again, don’t we all? In a world and society where everyone wants to put you in a a category, to stamp you with a label that dictates who you are and what you are worth in this world, it’s really hard to not let the gold stars and grey dots of this life stick to our souls. As much as we would like to say that we are tough and that we have thick skin, it makes no difference. Unless we take the time to go to our Maker and let Him tell us how special we are to Him. Because the reality is that He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of you, and neither should you.

A few years back, I attended a multicultural student leadership conference, and one of the speakers at the conference spoke about something that I will never forget. It was one simple question: “What is your noun?” The question was really about who you see when you look in the mirror, how you define that person that you see reflected back to you. Is she a woman? Is she an African American, a Caucasian, a Latina, an Asian? Is she tall or short? Is she beautiful or ugly? Is she a professional? What is that first thing, that first noun that comes to mind when you look at yourself in your mirror? I had to think about that. Over the years that noun has evolved, but I can tell you one thing for certain. I decided, from that moment on, that I would speak life to the woman that I saw in the mirror every day, and I would teach her to see a daughter of the King, created in His image and likeness.

Beloved, there are so many voices around us trying to tell us who we are, who they think we ought to be. But they are not our Creator. Only our Creator can truly tell us who we are and who He created us to be. David proclaimed that he was thankful for being fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139.14). That is what we ought to see when we look at our reflection – someone fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, someone who loves us endlessly and unconditionally. And the only way the labels of this world will begin to fall off of our souls, is if we take the time to climb the hill and step into the cottage of our Maker, and let Him remind us of how special we are to Him. Your past doesn’t have to define you. Your mistakes don’t have to define you. Your life choices up to this point do not have to define who you are destined to become in the future. No one and nothing but your Maker can really tell you how valuable and priceless and magnificent you are. You possess profound power within you, simply because you were created with it already built into your being! But the only way you are going to tap into that boundless power is to spent time talking to the Source of that power, the One who created you with purpose, on purpose, and for a purpose.

Singer Matthew West wrote a song called, “Hello My Name Is.” It’s a dialogue between a person and the things that try to label them and hold them back from living an abundantly free and beautiful life, things like regret, defeat, and shame. But then he says this:

I am no longer defined

By all the wreckage behind

The one who makes all things new

Has proven it’s true

Just take a look at my life

And then he goes on to declare:

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free

“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Now that’s an awesome change of self-perspective! That’s what happens when you take time to talk to the Maker and let Him remind you of who He created you to be! We don’t have to live in the shadows of our past mistakes, or even the opinions and expectations of people who haven’t the faintest clue or couldn’t care less about our true purpose and destiny. Go back to the One who loves you, who created you to be the mirror image of the Divine. Take time to talk with Him and spend time with Him, and watch the gold stars and grey dots of life fall off as they matter less and less to you in view of a Maker and Creator who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3.) Because YOU ARE SPECIAL.013b74f3f7c64c99d5ea5f7d4397fdc582f24c782e

Powerful beyond measure

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson

I love being a woman. Sure, it’s not always easy, but I love being a woman. When God created me, He knew I would enjoy womanhood. I love being beautiful. I love being nurturing and caring. I love that I have the potential to carry and grow life. I love being soft, gentle, sweet, and luminous. I love being feminine and graceful. And I love the deep strength that comes with simply being a woman. I love that I am UNIQUE. Plain and simple. Part of what makes me uniquely me is the fact that I am a woman, and I love that. But being a woman is intricate and often challenging.

We live in a society that has convinced us that, in order to be acceptable, we have to be able to do it all. And they have convinced us that it is possible to have our cake and eat it too. We can be professional women and family women. We can pursue a career and meet the needs of our families at the same time. They expect us to be stick skinny and flawless, brilliant, keep a spotless home, cook like a chef, be the perfect mom who attends all the events, tend to our spouse without complaint, and be an ambitious career woman. These are unrealistic expectations that don’t even stop to consider that each and every woman has her own unique purpose and calling. It doesn’t consider that life was meant to be lived in seasons and stages – you don’t have to do it all at once. Something will suffer if you try to do it that way. There is no such thing as “one life fits all.” And, in piling on such unrealistic expectations and standards, our sense of self-worth and self-esteem often takes a hit.  You’re too tall or too short. You’re too skinny or too fat. You’re too educated or you’re not educated enough. You’re too domestic or too driven. You are always going to be “too something” for someone. But what society thinks is not what matters, nor are they the ones who dictate to you what purpose you are meant to fulfill. What matters is what your Creator thinks and says about you. What matters is what incredible plan He had in mind when He breathed His life into your body and you became a living soul. The way you were created was not an accident; it was by design. You are a designer’s original, and you have a personalized path to follow and a divine purpose to fulfill. We were created to reflect the glory of our Creator, because we were created in His image and likeness. Unfortunately, we as women have allowed society to detach us from our Creator and convince that we are failures if we don’t meet their definition of success in life.

It’s time to stop accepting the lies and embrace who we were originally meant to be. We are women, full of power, potential, and passion, each of us with our own tailor-made purpose to fulfill in life. It’s never too late to discover who you are and what you were created to pursue. It’s never too late to start over and dream another dream, or revisit and old dream that you thought had died or was impossible to achieve. Your best days are still ahead of you, and you are going to be AMAZING. Let the journey begin…. It’s time to honor who you are and who you were created to be. Time to start loving HER.