What is my purpose?
How can I find more purpose in my life?
We all ask these questions many times throughout life. While in high school, we begin to ponder the meaning and purpose of our life as we start preparing for college, hoping that the place where we are educated will prepare us well for what we want to do in life.
Once we get to college, we start thinking about majors and minors, trying to find that perfect fit for our particular skill set and interests.
When we graduate and finally have our degrees, we realize that a long job search can probe us to ask the question even more. What am I to do with my life? What is my purpose?
As baptized Christians, we are called to ask this question often as we seek to discover our calling, trusting that God has given us specific gifts that can be used in this world. We hope to find that place where our gifts meet the world's great needs and hungers. We hope to find that place where we can apply our gifts in an effort to make a difference in the church, the community, the nation and the world. Our purpose is to share these gifts with others.
We all have a purpose - even though the purpose can be hard to find.
But what happens when we feel like we can no longer fulfill our purpose?
As many of you know, my step-father, Red, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease earlier this year. When he was first diagnosed, we were all devastated. Red is one of the most remarkable and gifted people I know. Red never forgot a name of any of the hundreds of students he taught - he could even tell you what year he taught them. Red was so gifted - he could do just about anything including winning over my mom, sister and me.
Red was in a nursing facility for a while and then moved home. While he is no longer as strong as he used to be, he was doing well, and Mother was adjusting to a different kind of life as she became the supporter and the caregiver. Things were going okay. But, everything went downhill on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Red called his children and told them "good-bye." He was ready to die because he no longer had purpose. His purpose was gone. He was no longer useful around the house. He could no longer remember the things he could once articulate in a blink of an eye. He had no purpose, and he had no desire to live a life without purpose.
Fortunately, a team of people immediately rallied behind Red. He was given instant care and is now in an exceptional care facility for treatment. Still, his statements are ringing in my head.
How do we help all people to discover their purpose - whether they are 16 or 96? How do we help people to find their new purpose when they are no longer able to fulfill their old purpose? How do we help people to discover their call - their purpose in life - throughout all stages of life?
I do not know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that my heart has been broken by Red and the dark place he reached last week. I also know that this darkness is pushing me forward to help others find the light - the light of their purpose when the darkness has evaded it.
We're starting a new Bible study this week at Mount Vernon Place. Led by one of our gifted interns, we are going to gather around a table and study scripture - the scriptures about spiritual gifts - about the ways in which God gifts all of us. There is power in such a study. If we know our gifts and if we have a place to use them, then we can all know our purpose. I hope you'll make plans to be with us; all are welcome.
What is your purpose?