On Purpose

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In one sentence, what is your purpose?

I did just give homework. It’s not bad, just busy work. Take as much time as you need, its due when you’re ready to turn it in.

I’ve spent almost no time thinking about this question, and I would argue that it is the most important question of your life. As an evangelical Christian I’m inclined to respond with the basic: “To know God and make him known,” but I’m not satisfied with that answer. I know it isn’t true, in the deepest parts of my soul. To say that is to tell a lie, and I’ve never been one to lie.

I spent a lot of time with my mother this summer and I’ve learned one thing. She knows her purpose, but, now, that purpose will be fulfilled. She said it to me when we were having a conversation over a bottle of wine and dinner. It was something to the effect that she wanted to be the best mom she could. She’s done a fantastic job. I’m the best thing since sliced peas, and my brother is tolerable. That’s more than most parents could ask.

Jokes aside, my mother has spent a lot of her time and effort into making my brother and myself into good people, and setting us up for good lives. She and my Dad taught us in a multitude of ways, from finances to work ethic. I couldn’t ask for better parents, but one thing they never taught me was what my purpose is.

Now, I can’t really blame them. Everyone has to figure things out for themselves. Sure, I could say that they taught me to “know God and make him known,” but that is far too unspecific for me. All that tells me is that I should spent 8 hours a day reading the Bible and 8 hours walking up to people handing out tracts asking, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” Sorry, but I don’t adhere to those techniques.

So, I sat down and tried to figure out my purpose. I couldn’t. “To teach English” was one, “To help people” was another, but none of them sat right with me. It took me a while, but I realized that it’s something that we can’t know. You know your purpose when you’re dead. While you’re here it’s too hard to figure out something so big picture. Your purpose changes every day. Some days my purpose might be to help my mom. Other days it may be to work at Subway. Now my purpose is going to be school and my jobs there.

Living out your purpose doesn’t equate to happiness, either. I’m never happy to be at Subway, but the times that I get to take a coworker home, because they’d have to walk otherwise, makes the experience worth it. Even experiences that I look at now and say that I enjoyed, I didn’t necessarily enjoy when I was in the thick of things. I spent a few days in Ireland, during my fall break while I was in Italy, and I was stressed out beyond words. Now, I look back at all the friends I made, not the struggle I went through.

It goes to show that sometimes the tough things are what show us what our real purpose is, and where we gain our most fulfilling experiences.

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