I had three kids in four years. Which means six years straight of either nursing or being pregnant, of changing diapers, and of sleepless nights (well, who am I kidding – it was more like ten years of sleepless nights thanks to a certain baby girl who couldn’t quite get the hang of sleeping alone). On many a weekday afternoon, as I pureed veggies and tried to figure out how to make pasta palatable yet again for dinner, I’d flip on Oprah on the small TV in our kitchen. And I have this searing memory in those tender young-mom years of Oprah nearly shouting through the screen to me, “If you want to find your purpose, just follow your passion!” It was as though she were stating the fact of something that we all seemed to know but for some inexplicable reason refused to do. She really bugged the heck out of me with that.
Because the truth was, as I picked soggy Cheerios and breast milk off the front of my blouse, played Legos and read The Hungry Caterpillar for the 14,000th time, I couldn’t have followed my passion if you gave me step by step instructions. What even was my passion? I loved being a stay at home mom but it was not lost on me that the career I’d built and strived for was all but gone, replaced by…well, by Cheerios, Legos, Hungry Caterpillars, and Oprah.
Still. I do think Oprah was right to encourage us to pursue a life of purpose. It just turns out that I already was and I didn’t know it. Parenting – talk about living your life in service to something bigger than yourself. Can all the young parents out there please hear me say how amazing and purposeful your lives are? You are in the thick of it. God bless.
Psychological researchers say that a meaningful life comes from knowing your strengths and then using them to engage in something that you believe is larger than you are. Our faith tells us that too. Proverbs 11: 1 says, a life built on things is a dead life; a stump. But a life built on God is a flourishing tree. We are meant to flourish!
One way we do that is by knowing our strengths, and then attuning ourselves to God’s voice to help lead us toward pursuits that serve God’s purposes, not our own. God not only knows your strengths, God placed them there to begin with. I find such hope in that. Looking back on my 33 year-old self, I wish I could tell her to trust that God makes a way. It’s not entirely up to me to chart the path and fight my way somewhere; but it is up to me to pay attention.
Last Sunday, we heard the story of Esther, from the Old Testament, and one of my favorite lines of scripture: “Who knows? Perhaps you were made for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) That verse applies to much in our lives. The messy, mundane and marvelous. If you’re looking for purpose and meaning, get to know your God-given strengths and pray about how to put those to use in the world.
Speaking of purpose, Snowmass Chapel is engaged in several meaningful projects and groups in the valley, and beyond – in this week’s Mountaineer we begin highlighting some ways you can put your strengths to work by engaging with these organizations. Check out info in today’s Mountaineer about the Aspen Camp for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing; they’re in need of strong leadership and visionaries to help them sustain their program in the years ahead.
Flourishing means, in essence, living “the good life.” Right now, in this minute. This moment of poopy diapers, sleepless nights, caring for elderly parents, enduring illness, break-ups, joblessness, worry – in every circumstance we can know that God is with us, there is hope, and we can live a life of purpose even now. After all, perhaps you were born for such a time as this.