I read The Purpose Driven Life many moons ago. I read it at a time when my sole purpose, as I saw it, was to keep three little people alive. That’s it. I literally couldn’t see past the kitchen sink and the changing table. My mind couldn’t envision any kind of life apart from just making it through the day without falling into a crumpled heap of exhaustion when my husband came home. My heart new better. It knew one day, my children would go to school and my empty mama arms would no longer fill with babies but with the milk and honey found in the promised land we stay-at-home mom’s call “Free Time”.
It was a hard season of life. A very hard season. My heart strained against the smallness of my life. Enter The Purpose Driven Life and all the promise surrounding it. All those millions of copies sold! All those changed lives! All that purpose! I read it, and nothing inside me shifted, except a growing sense of anxiety that I would never discover my “true purpose”. I couldn’t see how my day-to-day obedience, how simply doing the next thing with love, served as a life calling. And I’m not sure I wanted it to. Deep down, my heart believed there was more.
The kids grew older, as they’re wont to do, and I finally caught the “free time” dangling like a carrot on the end of a long stick of years. Which is to say, “free time” is a bit of a myth. My hours have shifted, and I suddenly have a chunk of time in which I can think about my lack of purpose and dwell on it for a little while, before spending the next eight hours of my afternoon and evening on mom duty.
Without the craziness and chaos and excitement of living overseas masking the repetitive nature of my days, I feel my heart once again stretched tight against the smallness of my everyday life. This is a hard season. A very hard season. My days run on an endless supply of angst and frustration. My skin splits at the seams from a heart that beats for something more. There is more for me, I can feel this, and yet I don’t know what more looks like. I can tell you it doesn’t look like one more errand or trip to Target or load of laundry.
It is hard to talk about these things because of their complexity. When we start talking about motherhood and fulfillment and purpose and God, it all becomes a bit fuzzy, doesn’t it? What is true for me, will not be true for you, and vice versa. My truth is this: I want more from life than an endless parade of household duties. It is smothering the creativity and vitality right out of me. I want more from life than a mediocre blog and an obsession with social media numbers. I want more from life than the comfortable view from my backyard. I want more purpose, less angst. More meaning, less frustration.
I want to find the place where my presence makes a difference. Where, as Frederick Buechner says, my “…deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I know I meet a very real hunger here at home, I know this is the place I make the most kingdom difference. I know this and I believe this and I live this, but there is more marrow to suck from the bone of this short life. I also know where my deep gladness resides, it’s just a matter of finding the hungry ones to rise up and meet it.
What is your experience with purpose and fulfillment? Do you find it solely at home? If so, God bless you and what’s your secret? Do you find it in volunteer work, office work, art work? I’d love to know where your deep gladness meets the world’s hunger.