I've been fortunate to have had opportunities in a number of different environments to come alongside people as they explore, discover and journey. That expression looks a bit different in retail sales... and a bit different from that in job skills and development work... and a bit different still in a local church staff role. In each role, it's always been about people.
But my focus in this season of my life is easily the most fulfilling and rewarding work I've ever done. And it started with my LifePlan nearly five years ago through a friend with the Paterson Center.
Ultimately, when we're asking for clarity about personal life purpose, it gets...well, personal. And the life-defining question is: What would it look like if I lived out my unique purpose with my unique skills and values in every domain of my life? Perhaps more to the point: what would it look like if I showed up as me?
As a result of my personal LifePlan, my life purpose statement is this: "I exist to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE."
I discovered through my own LifePlan that the process did not allow me to limit my purpose to work / career. I was surprised, even a little put off, at the expectation that my purpose somehow was supposed to have an expression in community. And I'm realizing I can't ignore just how vast my community is in light of mid-term elections and all things politics.
I've also not been able to ignore the way I'm apparently hard-wired to keep the peace and make everyone happy. Well, there's a twisted savior complex. And it's rooted in fear of a lack of acceptance. It's centered around a life-sucking "need" to be esteemed and endeared. And it can keep me from living out my God-designed True Self.
I've recently struggled with how to speak into and about the deeply broken climate of these un-United States of America. I wrote a social media post recently, then removed it after a few comments clearly revealed I was risking not being endeared...and I was, based on my own fear, not “keeping peace.”
But, to fully embrace my personal purpose - "to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE" - means I must speak for those Human Beings who are in multiple ways being denied their unique purpose to live out their Truest Self as image-bearers of God.
I'm deeply concerned and angered by...
racism that "innocently" and insensitively uses another's ethnicity (like our African American, Native American and mid-Eastern friends to name a few) as their Halloween "costume" as though they are a fictional character to mimic
degrading comments such as "wow, for African Americans, they're really successful"
"othering" language that labels human beings as "invaders” and "criminals" as they seek refuge, fleeing for their own safety and survival
shaming victims of sexual abuse who found a way - within a few days or many years - to speak to and about their perpetrators
blaming victims of hate while making not-so-veiled statements about guns to fight guns
deceit and lies used to protect one's own image while accusing and blaming others
the use of fear to incite people to dig in their heels and double-down on a scarcity mindset
claims to individual "rights" without a willingness and determination to sort through the difficult realities, challenges and broad spectrum of potential solutions to gun violence and the tens of thousands of lives taken annually in our country
the double-speak of some religious and political groups and individuals who claim the Pro-Life movement is about the sanctity of life, all the while dishonoring that sanctity as they slander, belittle and devalue people they don't agree with... and embarrass, shame and condemn those who've gone through the harrowing decision of an abortion
a refusal to recognize the complex realities of gender, threatening to discount and dismiss those who don't fit someone else's "normal"
sexism and racism that sees one's own gender and / or ethnicity as the most trustworthy, the most "normal" and the most respectable
Believe me. I've not gotten all this right myself. Growing up and even into my adult years, my own despicable counter-to-the-Kingdom-of-God elitism still makes me feel ashamed and saddened. Things like my own...
decision as a teenager to paint my face brown for a lip-sync of an African-American Gospel group (and the denominational youth ministry who applauded it)
blind fear driving through unfamiliar parts of a city, believing its residents were dangerous to my well-being based solely on the color of their skin
judgment of people with a different sexual orientation than mine
dismissiveness of people based on their choices - that I deemed as "wrong" in my ignorance of their story and unwillingness to listen and empathize
labeling of people as "they," "stupid," "idiot," "mental," "dirty," "sinner," and "pervert;" labels that allow me to compare me to "them" and feel good about me somehow being "better"...even "best"
I exist to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE, so I again apologize for the ways I've displayed bigotry, elitism, fear-mongering and religious zealousness that have excluded, devalued and deeply hurt image-bearers of God. People just like me.
I can't ignore the challenge to show up as my True Self in all places and relationships. I must take my purpose into my marriage. I must continue to figure out what that looks like with my daughter and son-in-law. I must live into this with the rest of my family. I have to wrestle with how I live out my purpose in my neighborhood...at the downtown service station and outside my favorite restaurants when someone asks for a dollar for a sandwich or some change for bus fare.
I must take my purpose - my True Self - into the voting booth at midterms. I must speak up, hoping to influence my fellow citizens to not settle on what you already "know," but to stop and ask new questions, engage fresh conversations, confess personal and insensitive misses.
I must take my purpose into - and then back out of - the voting precinct. Every day I must learn more and more how to guide Human Beings back to their True Self, embraced by, embracing and reflecting LOVE. And as I do I'll wrestle with the ways I still tend toward supporting, validating and practicing the ways of the kingdom of our culture, rather than the Kingdom of God... the Kingdom of LOVE.
Ultimately, I believe that if we’ll each embrace the center of our DNA and LOVE well, we can see this United States of America united. Not because we all agree on every political leader or their position or decision, but because LOVE still covers, LOVE still denies fear’s power.
What's your purpose? And how are you living it out - personally, in your family, in your work, with your faith / spiritual family - and in your community... as a citizen?