Purpose

“I bet you spent your whole life believing that you, you were born to do something great, make a difference, do something special. Important. But Michael, it’s the most ordinary thought anybody ever had.”
– Quote from the 2011 movie Puncture

Damn.

That thought has played inside my head more than a few times. Not that I believe I’m special, or even possess any traits or abilities that could make me any more “special” than anyone else, because I don’t. I’m quite ordinary. Just ask anyone. I AM tall, but that doesn’t usually get me anything more than a bruised head. Certainly didn’t afford me any basketball prowess as a kid.

And to be clear this something “great” or “special” to me necessarily implies serving a greater good, not some self-aggrandizing effort meant to feed an ego or line a pocket.

So how ordinary IS that thought? There are 7 billion people on this earth. How many go about their day feeling as if they are destined for a larger-than-life experience, or more importantly a larger-than-self experience? How many do you suppose live with purpose, or even feel they HAVE a purpose other than surviving the daily grind? If everyone has that feeling or belief about making a difference is it then ordinary? Or are we ALL created with a special purpose and are thus designed to be drawn towards ultimately realizing that purpose, making that feeling unique to each individual? I believe so. The latter that is. But I also believe people screw it all up by elevating one purpose over another.

But then again, anyone can wax philosophical after a glass of scotch.

(Seriously, two, maybe 3 fingers of Glenfiddich on the rocks and suddenly I’m diving into the deep end of life’s mystery pool. And really the only reason I’m drinking this crap in the first place is because I won it in a “booze walk” at a mouse race fundraiser. Picked the expensive scotch because it always looks so cool in the movies, poured from some ridiculous crystal decanter over fresh tinkling ice cubes in some executive’s lavish office bar. But who does that? Who drinks scotch at work let alone has an office bar? What sort of ass hat keeps scotch in a decanter in his office with fresh ice at the ready? Cheap bourbon in a broken desk drawer and a coffee-stained styrofoam cup is more like it. I digress.)

So here I am with this nagging idea (or perhaps misconception, we’ll see) that I was put here to do something “more” than just put logos on stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with what I do. I have a great job in the promotional products industry and I really don’t see myself doing anything else, or working in another industry. I help people and I get to be creative now and again. It’s never boring but it if I’m being honest it’s not my “life”. I don’t live to work and I doubt I ever will. I don’t believe that’s lazy, I just believe that’s prioritizing. And honestly, this great “thing” may or may not have anything to do with my job. It probably doesn’t. Many people I know that do really incredible, important, impactful things do them in their spare time… volunteering, coaching, leading, counseling, mentoring. Things that leave a lasting impression on hearts and minds. Things that have the possibility to transform lives. Things that, well, are in service to others. But occasionally I do truly envy those that have a genuine passion for their occupation; that feel like they’re making a difference every day they clock in. I assume they are doctors, teachers, firemen, soldiers, pastors, bartenders.

I kid.

Then again, being a bartender was one of the best jobs I ever had. Of course it was during college and I had zero responsibilities other than eat, sleep, drink, study, drink. I guess my purpose then was instant gratification. But you can only survive so long by just serving self.

I would say that I view my job more as a means to an end. If I lost it tomorrow I know and trust that God would provide, so I don’t live in fear of  being unemployed. Rather, I fear living a life wasted and devoid of purpose… just going through the motions, alive but not living. I know being unemployed would suck for a while, that I might be stripped of earthly possessions and comforts, but I also know and trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

HIS purpose.

Our purpose and His purpose are intertwined, and so let’s further complicate things by acknowledging that His purpose is often times concealed from us. Why? Because we’re usually not ready or willing or able to accept, trust, or comprehend what He might have in store for us, or even the manner in which He might allow it to happen. Probably for the best because even if His purpose was revealed to me I would likely continue fighting against it because, let’s face it, I know better.

We are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and love others as myself” (Luke 27). We are to live, love and serve. I understand that, intellectually. But finding your purpose is a bit different, right? Perhaps the opposite side of the same coin? So how then does my purpose fit with His purpose?

I’m restless, dwelling on an idea and searching for something that may or may not even exist, right? Or, quite possibly, it’s already staring me in the face right now and I’m not seeing it. Or perhaps I’m just not willing to accept it in it’s current form because I’ve subconsciously devalued it and instead choose to live a life of endless purpose-searching. Whatever the case my prayer is to just be open and receptive should that one “thing”, that elusive purpose, come knocking. There are few things more painful than regret and I don’t want to look back on my life one day and feel like I haven’t done anything of lasting value, or made a difference in someone’s life, or completely missed that “purpose” moment. I would rather search endlessly for that purpose just out of reach, than to settle for a life devoid of one. 

***

That’s a whole lot of words and I’m not entirely sure they all made sense together either. I guess at the end of the day the question I’m really trying to ask, in a most confusing way, is…

What do I want to do when I grow up?

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