Saturday, March 17, 2012

Figuring Out Our Life's Purpose



I've been watching Oprah since the days when she was on a local TV station in Baltimore.  I find her to be a source of inspiration.  For years, she's been telling us that we each have a life purpose and that it is our duty to figure out what that is and then share our "gift" with the world. Every time I hear her talk about finding our purpose, I'm reminded of my seventh grade language arts teacher, Mrs. Zimmerman.

Mrs. Zimmerman wore heavy makeup to cover scars on her face.  I never knew the full details of how she got the scars, but the rumor was that she had been in a car accident.  Some of the kids made fun of her,  but I thought she was beautiful. She had an inner beauty that came through in her smile and gentle disposition. She knew that we, as adolescents, were trying to figure out where we fit in the world. She had a knack of applying every novel, every play, every poem, that we read to our own lives.  One of the most memorable lessons she was us was that we each had a special talent, a gift, something we were really good at doing.  I took that lesson to heart and began the search for "my gift."

But somehow, while going through all the challenges and changes of growing up, I forgot that lesson. I stopped searching and just lived for each day.  When Oprah began reminding us to figure out our purpose, I was in my late twenties and the search started again.  Here's the thing, it's now thirty years later, and I still haven't figured out my "purpose."

I can usually figure out other people's gifts pretty quickly, but I can't seem to figure out my own. I'm even starting to wonder if I have one!  Now that I'm getting older, and feeling time is running out, finding what I'm good at has become more important than ever.  I have thought about it, journaled about it, and prayed about it.  Still, I'm lost. I think that it's more than just being passionate about something, it has to be something I do well enough to make a difference.

I raised two sons who despite any shortcomings I had as parent, grew into wonderful men that any mother would be proud of.  I'm a teacher, and that has been an important part of my life.  I hope I've made a difference in the lives of my students.These roles have given me a purpose to wake up every morning, but I'm not sure that is the same as a life's purpose.  Does that make sense?  It seems like there is something else that I'm meant to do that I haven't figured out yet.

Maybe I'm over thinking it, but I don't want to grow old and have regrets or feel that some part of my life was unfulfilled.

So, I'm wondering how other people have found their gifts, their life's purpose? Does our life's purpose change through the stages of our life?  How is it that some people are born knowing what they came to this earth to do?  How did you figure out what you are good at?  Did someone tell you, or did you just know?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  It's late and my vision i blurred so I'll close now.  I hope I haven't embarrassed myself by revealing too much about my inner craziness, but if I''m struggling with finding my pupose, maybe some of you are too?

16 comments:

  1. It sounds like the past 30 years have been spent pouring your life into others - your own sons and the sons and daughters of others. That sounds like a mighty fine purpose to me. You're not crazy. You just want your life to mean something. I bet if you asked your family, your students, they'd tell you it does. You could be their Mrs. Zimmerman.

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    1. I guess I worry a lot about regrets. You're right, I need to know my time here meant something to someone. Maybe we're all seeking the same thing.

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  2. Your writing is very real and honest.
    Do you feel your life has purpose?
    " I think that it's more than just being passionate about something, it has to be something I do well enough to make a difference."
    It sounds like you made a difference in the lives of your sons and your students. Like Wendi Richert said, you could be their Mrs. Zimmerman.
    Your writing makes a difference.
    I looked up on the internet about life purpose, and I found this article on what the bible says about purpose.
    http://www.gotquestions.org/purpose-of-life.html

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    1. Thanks, Pamela. This was written pretty late last night when I was tired and feeling very down. I wish I could figure out what my purpose is? I've read that we honor God most when we live our purpose and share our gifts, but what if we don't know what they are?

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  3. I admire and appreciate your honesty. I have had many similar thoughts. I connected to this statement, "It seems like there is something else that I'm meant to do that I haven't figured out yet."

    I feel like I have talents and passions/gifts yet undiscovered or maybe underdeveloped. I think sometimes there is much I could do if I knew how to develop those gifts. I joke with people that I am a gypsy. Teaching is my second career and most likely will not be my last career. Not that I don't love it (I do), but because I don't know yet what I want to be when I grow up, I assume it could change with time, and I leave myself open to life's possibilities. I'm thinking maybe we can have many life's purposes. Is it possible that you have had some great ones already (mother, teacher, wife, daughter) that have truly made a difference and that you've had great talent at, but you still have talents yet undiscovered that may unfold in this life?

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    1. I do like being a teacher, but I know what you mean when you say, "I don't know yet what I want to be when I grow up." For me, I don't know who I'm SUPPOSED to be anymore. When my sons were small, I knew what my purpose was, now...not so much. : )

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  4. Your struggle is real - who hasn't asked themselves the question you are asking?
    Something I heard recently resonated with me - "pay attention to where your feet go because there goes your heart."
    How do you spend time that you most enjoy? Therein is your heart, and there is your purpose.

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    1. I've thought about the question you asked many times in the past. I enjoy writing about my life and experiences and the lives of people I care about. The problem is that I keep wondering if just because I enjoy it, what if I'm not very good at it? Will I have wasted the time I should be spending figuring out my true purpose? Crazy, huh? : )

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  5. Well, let me tell you, you write well. I really appreciate the way you said what you said. Also, you are expressing not just your own insanity, but a desire of every heart. We were born to make a difference in the world. And, you are making a difference in the lives of so many. It sounds like you need a creative outlet and a group to share it with. May the Lord give you that blessing as you let His light shine through you.

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    1. Thank you for your kindness, Jama. I don't have much confidence in my writing. I'm never sure my meaning is clear or if my words bore readers. I wish there was a test that told us exactly what our purpose is. i've taken the Myers-Briggs and other personlity tests, but they show where your interests lie, not if you have the ability to perform them.

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  6. To start... "revealing too much about my inner craziness". You revealed what I hope everyone wonders...what is our purpose? I hope, but am unsure, if all wonder about their purpose. Or do they go about their day thinking of nothing but what they get out of the day? I will be honest I don't live thinking people only think of themselves...I truly believe most want to give to others.

    To me your inner craziness is truly inner wisdom. You have gone about your life thinking of others and what impact you have made. Look around I know you will find your purpose in the lives you have touched!

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    1. Seney, I've never felt that I held wisdom on any topic. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. It means a lot to know my thoughts weren't self-centered or silly. I do think I've been worrying about this thing too much lately. It may have to do with my mother's illness and wondering what she might regret.

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  7. Dear Linda - I'm new to your blog, new to you. But you emanate a warmth and welcome that nurtures me instantly. Perhaps your purpose is more broad than specific: to love others, the share yourself in a way that nurtures the rest of us. I really can't think of a more valuable or meaningful purpose. And it's one that can be practiced through face-to-face contact or writing or in the check-out line at the grocery store. I think sometimes we look out at the rest of the world and feel somehow inadequate when really we're using our gifts without even realizing it. So happy to know you!

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    1. Thank you for your kind and generous words. I'm so glad that I was paired with you. There is always a little sadness in losing, but knowing the best poem won makes it much easier. I am trying to learn to be more true to myself, but first I have to figure out who that is. At 57, you'd think I'd know, but I've lived a life of should's and never really taken many risks. I'm just now beginning to find my own true voice. I'm glad you stopped by!

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  8. Linda, I love your honesty in this post. Can't even think of how many times I've wondered whether I am really following the path that has been laid out for me, or fulfilling the purpose I was intended to fulfill. Every day, I pray that God will open the doors he wants opened and close the ones he wants closed.

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    1. I pray the same prayer. I'm always afraid of what people will think of what I write. I hold back a lot because of that. I appreciate people like you sharing your own similar feelings about life purpose. : )

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