“Ever After” is one of my favorite movies. It has lots of humorous one-liners, adventure, romance, and a strong heroine. Midway through the story, the hero finds himself inspired by love and says to her, “I used to think, if I cared about anything, I would have to care about everything and I'd go stark raving mad! But now I've found my purpose. It’s a project actually inspired by you. I feel the most wonderful freedom!” I used to always feel sad during that scene – like I was being taunted that I had yet to find a reason for my own existence.
I went through life, first, thinking I was going to die young with no need for a purpose. Then after becoming pregnant and getting married, I was sure my purpose was to be a mother and wife but my first husband was abusive and the marriage ended. Okay, maybe I was just supposed to be a mother. Then I met and married another man and I was sure my life and my purpose was now complete again. Six months later my son died and once again my purpose seemed lost. Maybe I was just supposed to be a wife. Then my second husband left me. Again, I was alone and without purpose.
Finding purpose in my faith didn’t seem to be working for me either. My religion teaches that the purpose of man (and woman) is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. That’s all well and good, but how am I, as a unique creation of God, suppose to live into that overall objective? Sure, I have something I can say is my purpose in life, but it really doesn’t bring me any closer to living into it. I can’t begin to explain how frustrating and depressing it is not knowing and therefore not being able to even begin to fulfill my purpose in life.
I decided to stop searching for answers I was clearly not suppose to have yet and let God tell me in his own good time why he made me just the way I am. Then several months ago God brought it all into focus for me. The Bible tells us that God will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25) There’s not enough space here to explain all the ways God has restored the years of my life stolen from me by depression, abuse, fear, and grief. However I will say that he has restored and redeemed every moment and brought out of even the darkest times, great blessings of comfort, peace, and joy. I was comforted by God with a comfort I am to share with others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) I’ve received God’s solace for just about everything for which a person needs to be consoled. And now that he has fully prepared me through tragedy, therapy, healing prayer and years of forming in me a deep dependence on him, he has led me to a *place where I am helping to provide a safe haven for children who are grieving. For the last two months I’ve had the great privilege of sharing in the grief-stricken lives of seven preteens and their families. God has used my experience and my unique understanding of their pain to offer them comfort and give them hope again.
There you have it – my purpose for existing – to love God and love others the way he loves me using the unique gifts and abilities he has instilled in me. That’s why I write. That’s why I’m a secretary. That’s why I’m a friend, a daughter, a sister, and aunt. That’s the foundation of everything that I think, do, and say. Isn’t that funny? I knew it all along – I knew that all I could be was myself and that all I was capable of doing was to reach out to those around me with what I had. I used to think that what I had to offer was insufficent. Now I know it's the only thing that is a satisfactory offering. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t “merely” what I had to offer but “exactly” the gift he prepared me to give. It’s what he had intended for me to be when he created me – a comforter, a friend, a helper, and an encourager – someone he dearly loves, and at the same time, someone he can love dearly through.“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
*The Caring Place is dedicated to grieving children and families, supporting them in their journey toward hope after a loved one dies.About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (May 2011)