A Journey to Understanding Purpose
Written by Beth Chatteron
Ah, purpose. The habit that seems to keep me on my toes.
Back in my early 30’s I was really struggling with my individual purpose. I was moving up the corporate ladder, making more money than I ever thought was possible alongside great teammates. Outside my work life, my husband and I decided to start our family.
Yet I still was questioning my purpose.
See, I got caught up in purpose being defined as “making a difference with big impact.” For me, I was always comparing my purpose to being a doctor’s purpose of saving lives. I needed my purpose to be big, powerful and life changing. Well, I had it all wrong. I wasn’t meant to be a doctor and to save lives, at least not in that specific way. That wasn’t the purpose God had for me.
After years of having the same conversation in my head, repeatedly, one day the light bulb went on. As I was sitting in my office with a window view overlooking the Rocky Mountains (man, I was spoiled), I asked myself, “What if I am already making a difference? What if I am already fulfilling my purpose?”
See at that time, I was managing a good number of people, from all walks of life. I wondered if my purpose was to spend time with each person on my team, getting to know them on a more personal level, understanding what made them tick, and what they wanted out of their job or life? Listening carefully, authentically and being a manager who truly cared.
Now to be clear, I did care, and it wasn’t that I was ignoring this before or wasn’t doing these things. I was. But it never dawned on me that I could make a difference (big or small), person by person in this capacity. To me, this wasn’t “life changing.” But what happened if I became even more intentional? Individual by individual? Maybe I was meant to plant a specific seed that would grow over time as these people went on their journey? Or maybe I was just to be a good listener on that day... Or maybe simply a warm, friendly smile.
My purpose was that I needed to do what I was already doing!
Being the person that the Lord intended me to be, right where I was; managing these unique individuals with kindness, grace and authenticity. But will I ever see the fruits of my impact? It’s likely that’s for the Lord and others to know, not me. If I would let Him continue to work through me and if I were to approach each encounter with my best intent, then surely it would make a difference either during that moment or over time.
Oh, and guess what?! I have heard a few things here and there over the years that has confirmed - it’s working! (Woot woot! Can you see me dancing? It feels good to know my purpose!)
But wait! Fast forward 15 years…
I once again slipped back into my old way of thinking. As I have been listening, reading, and following Rachel Hollis (if you have not yet jumped on this bandwagon, I highly recommend you do it and NOW!), I have been journaling and taking some lessons from her. See, I am a student of the game, always learning and trying to be the best version of myself.
One thing I started doing regularly is journaling every morning while I pray and get ready for the day (thank you Rachel). One of a few things I had been writing down was – I am a community influencer, always with kindness and grace.
And once again, I was getting it all wrong.
The original intent of this phrase was again that I needed and wanted something big and crazy, to be an influencer like a Rachel Hollis. To be on stage. To change the world. But guess what, that same old light bulb went on again. This is MY desire, not what the Lord is asking me to do. This is NOT MY PURPOSE. My purpose, again, is to influence one individual at a time.
My daily journal note has changed over the last few months. It now reads: I am a community influencer, one (individual) by one, always with kindness and grace. I now focus and work every day on letting the Lord work through me as He needs, person by person.
I do this by slowing down. Not overbooking myself. Not rushing from one thing to another. And by stopping to listen.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the person at the post office as I am mailing a package, or another parent at school pickup. I am focusing on the current moment. And you know what? I have had more meaningful conversations and powerful encounters again, just like I did 15 years ago!
So, what’s my purpose? To be me, right where I am. To be authentic and kind. Always. Person by person, I will continue to show the light of Christ. Like St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta says: “Do small things with great love!”
I will pray for each of you to understand your God given purpose and to allow Him to use it to do small and big things! Because regardless of the size, it all has a purpose in His plan!