When I was in eighth grade, I was determined to be a geneticist. My grandfather was diagnosed with and died from Leukemia, and so I was going to find the cure. I took a genetics class, and I even shadowed a geneticist at the local medical school. Gene splicing here I come! Then I took chemistry and AP English Lit and found I like words a whole lot more than math and science.
In high school I slept a lot. Not because of hormones or an overly busy schedule, I was depressed. Poetry and writing became my outlet—ergo, I was going to become a writer or journalist. The path seemed clear! After receiving my BS in Journalism / Public Relations and minor in Creative Writing, I moved to the Jersey Shore for the summer, only to return and realize, PR and journalism wasn’t my dream either. So, I did what most people do . . .I became a coffee barista.
Yes, earning just over minimum wage, and no, not for Starbucks. It was a fun job. I loved coffee, and people, and the fast pace. That is until one day when a classmate from my PR program walked up in her business suit. Smelling like freshly ground Columbia roast and wearing a milk froth stained apron, it hit me, I wasn’t living up to my potential. It was time to figure my life out; I was having a quarter life crisis.
So, what was I supposed to do with my life?
Aren’t many of us asking that question, even after years of professional experience? We want to know there is something more to our existence than showing up every day and seeing money populate in our bank account at regular intervals, only to be depleted after groceries, rent / mortgage, car payments, this insurance and that insurance . . . . Is there more to WHY we exist and what we exist for?
We all want the answer to be yes! But there are days when it doesn’t feel that way. Days when if we have to intervene in one more sibling rivalry we will crack. Days when one more diaper change puts us over the edge. Nights where we roll over only to be reminded, we are once again alone. Afternoons when there are more minutes on the time clock than there is caffeine in our coffee cup. In those moments we wonder if we are destined for something more.
We want to know that we contribute to a greater good.
As a career coach I work with individuals from high schoolers to mid-life career changers. Consistently they all are seeking for their work to provide this sense of purpose. I believe we can find meaningful work that can—provide for our needs, bring us a sense of fulfillment, and make a difference in the world, yet when I search the scriptures, I fail to find any promises about our work giving us a sense of purpose. And what about those in retirement? Or mom’s who stay home with their kids? What about those in third world countries where work is as scarce as food or clean water? What about refugees or those in detainment camps? Do they have purpose?
Is finding one’s purpose a first world issue? Is it biblical even? Psychiatrist, author, and concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl said, “when a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they often distract themselves with pleasure.” Our country makes a profit on tantalizing us with pleasure—everything from fancy lattes, we so deserve, to pornography and reality TV shows that desensitize us from biblical truth. Frankl also wrote, “life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
So then where do we find meaning and purpose?
Remember, those words were penned by a concentration camp survivor, who learned even in the midst of brutality and dehumanization to find meaning and purpose outside of himself. In my own search for meaning and purpose, I came to the same conclusion: I was chasing after the wrong thing. I was searching for my purpose, my efforts to produce, my grand reason for being. My ENTIRE focus was on ME! In searching for my purpose, I inadvertently made an idol out of searching for It instead of seeking out God.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
In context Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people where he covered topics such as the Beatitudes, fulfilling the law, adultery, divorce, murder, caring for the needy, and not worrying about your life. It is in addressing not worrying about your life that Jesus said to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness so that all these things will be given to you. He didn’t say seek first your purpose. He said to seek Him!
In Romans 8:28 Paul writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” It isn’t our purpose. It is His! I’m hard pressed to find a place in scripture where Jesus suggests I find my purpose. Consistently what I see is Jesus pointing us to the Father and His purposes.
So. . ., I stopped searching for my purpose. I began to just seek God. I seek out the things He is doing and ask Him to allow me to partner with Him in what He wants to accomplish—even in the mundane things of life. I may not feel a sense of purpose doing laundry, making dinner, or responding to 50 emails, but God meets me in the mundane. He shows up even as I type this blog so that you know you matter to Him. God is inviting you to just be in His presence. If all you and I ever do is worship at His feet we will have fulfilled our purpose.
His invitation is waiting for you.
Will you stop searching for your purpose, and just seek Him?
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
- Jennifer Fonseca
PS: If you are struggling to find meaning and purpose, join us for a 4 week study on Know Your Why: Finding Your Purpose. This study purposely focuses on how you can partner with God to live out His purpose, and by doing so fulfill your own. Join here! https://www.palmbeachwomensnetwork.com/event-details/whats-your-why-finding-your-purpose-workshop-series-with-jen-fonseca