Friday, November 27, 2015

Finding Your Purpose

Since my husband, Paul, died I have had moments of wondering why on earth Heavenly Father kept me here and took him. In all honesty, I always saw him as the better parent. He was better at so many things. Maybe that is why he was called home and I get to stay here—or maybe I am still here because that was just a part of our plan—my plan.

It has taken me some time, but I have come to realize I am still here for a purpose. I have things to do and people to help. I can be an instrument in God’s hands.

I can remember the times that I have wanted so desperately to be back with my Paul. Yes, I have prayed for death…that I would go to sleep and not wake up. Or maybe I would just happen to wander off the road and hit something hard enough that my girls and I would be reunited with my love. They were fleeting thoughts, but they did enter into my mind because the loss I was feeling hurt so deeply.

The other day, I was reading in Philippians 1 and these verses stood out to me:
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

As I read these verses, I was thinking about how the Apostle Paul wrote this while he was imprisoned. He had a desire for death so he could be with the Savior, yet he knew that he had a purpose here. It was more needful for him to be here and serve Christ because his ministry was not finished. There were others here who still needed his help.

As a widow, like the Apostle Paul, I have experienced competing desires. It would be amazing to return to live with my Savior and my husband, yet I know that I have a purpose here. My work is not finished. I have beautiful children to raise and an amazing opportunity to serve Christ.

The Apostle Paul was literally being held captive. As a widow, I have felt captive figuratively. It has been hard and so excruciatingly painful. At times, it really has felt like a prison sentence with little to no relief.

The Apostle Paul recognized positive consequences that occurred as a result of his imprisonment. In Philippians 1:12 we read, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” And as we read in verse 14, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear,” he also recognized because of his example, other church members were able to be more bold and speak with confidence.

Just as what transpired with the Apostle Paul, I have come to the realization that it is during those moments where we are imprisoned, we are also able to have the most impact and help others. God is able to utilize us to a greater capacity. Others are strengthened by our example. Others are lifted because we can show them compassion and empathy—they feel of our understanding because of what we have endured. No matter what your trial is, you have the ability to help others. You have a purpose.

It is hard to find purpose when you are struggling to make it through the day and your heart is full of sorrow.  Oh how well I understand. But it can be done--and needs to be done. When you find your purpose you find your peace.

Finding our purpose requires action. It takes more than just thinking and pondering.  It is in the doing that we discover our purpose.

I discovered my purpose when I quit asking God questions such as, “Why did this happen to me?” or “What did I do to deserve this—was I not good enough?” and started asking, “What am I supposed to learn from all this and what is my purpose”?  In essence, it was when I developed a greater relationship with God that I started to heal and find purpose in my life again.  God helped me to remember what I was passionate about and then start to DO those things...I have even discovered new things with His help.

Purpose is something that is plural in meaning.  Most likely you have many things you can do.  You don't have to just look for that "one thing" to give you purpose.  Or maybe you only find "one thing" that gives you purpose and that is great too.  

So often we think that if we aren't able to impact a lot of people's lives for the better, we have no purpose. In our minds, little impact means big failure. Wrong! Having purpose doesn't mean it is your job to change the world--it simply means that you are living and not just existing.  Having purpose can be something simple. You don't have to go looking for the grand when the small will suffice.

Purpose is also something that is not stagnant--it can change and most likely will.  We should always be seeking our purpose!  I ask God daily to help me find my purpose for that day.

When I REMEMBER my purpose I find my peace. Yep, occasionally I forget my purpose…lose my peace...and then God reminds me again.  I pray that you will find your purpose and find your peace. While seeking for your individual purpose, remember we all have a universal purpose. That purpose is to just BE.

BE aware of God’s love for you.
BE full of love for yourself and others. 
BE in the present moment.  
BE you! YOU have specific gifts that only YOU can share!


Questions to ponder:
  1. What is your individual purpose for today?
  2. If you don't know your individual purpose, what are you going to do to discover it?
  3. How has recognizing your purpose brought much needed peace into your life?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How come I didn't see it?

Yes, I miss my parents.  It is a different kind of missing and longing than my husband. At one time in my life my parents were the ones who helped me and provided the things I needed.  But then, I got married.  My husband became my North Star—the one constant who guided my path and kept me on course. He fulfilled all my needs.  I am currently working on developing a deeper relationship with God so that He is my North Star…but that is for a different discussion.

I have missed the companionship of my husband so deeply.  I miss him holding my hand; playing with my hair; the conversations; the reassuring love; the compliments; my best friend.

I have been on my knees praying more times than I can count.  I have cried out to God letting Him know that I hurt and I don’t want to feel this emotional pain anymore.  I have asked Him for help.  I have let God know that I am angry because I feel like He is not listening to me…

And then the other day, after a conversation with a friend I had an “aha” moment.  I realized that God has been answering me. He has answered my prayers through a sweet little 5-year-old child in the Sunday School class I teach.  Last Sunday she sat by me and played with my hair.  It felt so amazing to have someone just play with my hair like my husband used to do. 

God has answered my prayers through my daughter.  Each night she comes and lays by me on my bed and asks to hold my hand.  I love holding her sweet little hand.  It brings me comfort and peace.  He has also answered my prayers through friends that encourage me, listen to me and offer support.

Yes, God has been answering me and trying to share beautiful gifts with me, only I did not see it.

Do you ever tell your kids to get something only to have them tell you they can't find it?  Then you go and look for it and it was sitting right in front of their face the whole time.  Why is that?  Why didn't they see it?

Sometimes in life God is trying to give us something beautiful...only we don't see it.  We are too busy looking everywhere, but right in front of our face. Maybe we are looking back at what we once had.  Maybe we are looking over at each side of us to see what is happening around us—wondering if there is something better that might come along. Maybe we are looking down at the things we did wrong. Maybe we are too busy holding on to grief or regrets.

Or maybe he is trying to give us a beautiful gift…only we don’t get past the wrapping to see what is inside…because it doesn’t look like we thought it should or would.  If we take time to unwrap it…we will find the gift He is trying to share with us.

In my case, I think I didn’t open the gifts He was trying to give me because…let’s be honest here… subconsciously I wanted my husband back. (Yeah, I know an unrealistic expectation!) And in my mind, anything less was not an answer to my prayer. 

Whatever the case may be, I imagine God is often shaking his head.  But, He patiently waits and continues to guide us.  He knows what He has to offer us and He is trying to lead us to it.  Trust Him.

Do I feel the completeness I felt with my husband because of the gifts I now recognize?  Honestly, no. I still hurt and I still miss him. But I do feel an added strength. I feel better. Stronger. I see that God’s gifts help us and it is those gifts He gives us along the way that help us to survive.

I do believe the more we recognize the gifts God is sharing with us, the more we receive.  The first step is recognizing the gifts and then showing gratitude.  There is power in gratitude. I have seen it improve my life and the lives of my children.

I also believe a time will come when all will be made right and I will feel the completeness I once felt. And the same goes for you. We have to believe that God will make it right—because He will.  It takes patience, trust, and a whole lot of faith and hope!  We’ve got this!

Questions to ponder:

Is God trying to give you something beautiful and you just don’t see it?

How do you learn to recognize the gifts God is giving you?

What gifts are you grateful for?