I’m living my dream. I don’t know many 23 year-olds who can confidently say they are living their “dream.”
I have to confess I’ve had many “dreams” and still do, but one that sat in the back of my mind for a long time was the dream to move to a Spanish speaking country, teach English, and share my faith. When I take a moment to look at my life I can’t quite believe that I have made it to my dream. I have arrived (Have I really peaked at 23? Is it all downhill from here?).
I remember being in college and what my heart wanted more than anything was to find its purpose. Where do I belong? What is my calling? What is my purpose?–Because the narrative I grew up believing told me that when you find that purpose and calling, you find fulfillment.
When I moved to Honduras I was excited. I had heard the Lord. This is where I belong. This is my calling. This my purpose. As I embarked on the new adventure, I was sure that in the midst of the pandemic I would be lit on fire and experience life with fullness and vibrance and beauty like no other time before. That’s what happens when you live your life on purpose, right?
I started teaching and– it didn’t happen. Life felt the same, if not harder.
The excitement and fire and vibrance I thought fulfilling my purpose would bring was nowhere to be found. Maybe I was doing something wrong. I followed You into the fire, where are You, God? Did I hear You wrong?
And there was a deep fear that maybe I had in fact heard God wrong.
I put on a brave face. I thought, maybe if I muscle through I will figure out this new life in Honduras and I will be fulfilled. I wasn’t a quitter, so I dug in deeper to my purpose.
My time was consumed with lesson planning, and grading, and paperwork, and planning, and moving in, and adjusting to Honduran life, and everything in between. But the more I dug in, the more anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed I became. I was in a perpetual state of survival.
One night I lay in bed, crying, questioning God on how following my purpose could leave me so empty. Wasn’t that the opposite of what fulfilling your purpose was supposed to do? And as I wept I heard him say, “but perhaps you were made for such a time as this. I would not have sent you if you were not strong.”
For such a time as this- when no one wanted to teach online.
For such a time as this- when new teachers didn’t want to commit.
For such a time as this- when quitting would be easier than continuing.
“I would not have sent you if you were not strong,” but I was tired of being strong. I was tired of chasing my purpose if it meant running to stay alive. I was left gasping for air. I couldn’t keep living like this.
Why God, should I keep following this purpose if I thirst so much more than I did before?
And I didn’t get an answer that night, but as the season unfolded God began to answer that question.
This is your purpose, but I am your strength.
This is your purpose, but I am your sustenance.
This is your purpose, but I am your fulfillment because I AM.
I AM your fulfillment.
This season I saw another of my idols fall from his throne.
The false god named purpose who I chased for so long to fill my emptiness and fix my brokenness. The lie of fulfillment, under the pretense of holy pursuits, was laid bare. Before my eyes I could finally see that I had made an idol of finding my purpose.
They say you grow through what you go through, and sometimes I have to learn the hard way. I had bet my life that finding my purpose could do what only God can do, and I didn’t even realize it. Fulfillment is not found in following your purpose, it’s found in following God.
A truth so simple to understand and yet so difficult to accept.
Your purpose is important, but it doesn’t fix you. It doesn’t change you. It doesn’t transform you. Those are things that only God can do.
Your purpose is not your fulfillment, God is.