2. Pay Attention to the Purpose
Let’s begin by clarifying this is not a “I need to find my purpose in life” situation. This is an intentional act of looking for the purpose and meaning in our circumstances. There is potential for most, if not all, experiences in our life to be meaningful and purposeful. That is, IF, you are mindful enough to be engaged in your present moment and aware of what this present moment connects to in your past and potentially into your future. Connecting the present to your past may look like coming to an awareness that you respond to other adult women with a need for them to approve of you and then coming to an understanding that this is because you never thought your mother approved of you. You may connect that to your future by being intentional with expressing approval to yourself so that you do not continue to have this re-occuring need that interferes with your present relationships. That is paying attention to the purpose. It doesn’t necessarily make everything feel better in the moment but it gives the feelings we don’t enjoy purpose and meaning. It is easy to get stuck in the blah (apathetic) feeling when you do not see the meaning or purpose for what you are currently doing.
This particular season for you, no matter what it is, has a purpose. Flourishing through this season rather than simply surviving it may rest upon your ability to identify the purpose and appreciate it. When you are in a transition season and are looking across the chasm to the other side where the future resides; you may feel lost and overwhelmed. It is easy to get sucked into focusing on just getting to the other side of the chasm; but, if you do that you fail to consider that there is just as much meaning in this moment, right where you are standing, on the side of the experience you are leaving. There is just as much purpose in your present moment, even if it is marked with distress, as there will be on the other side. When you consider that this moment, standing at the edge of the marriage you thought you had and the future of this marriage that you now know holds secrets of infidelity, has purpose. You will learn more about your true worth from this moment. You will take charge of your identity at this moment. You will trust in yourself and your higher power at this moment. You will learn to move forward from this moment, stronger and wiser. That is paying attention to the purpose.
“Oh sometimes you may sing for yourself
You struggle hard just to prevail
its the lesson you need to learn
its the way you’ve got to earn
Champions never accept defeat
They fall and get back on their feet…
We all need a little bit of dirt to grow”.
This kind of thinking, the kind that considers all the evidence and the reality rather than only our feelings, is how you find the purpose. Like flowers in the garden you need a little bit of dirt to grow. There is always going to be dirt in life but you can choose to view it as the fertilizer that helps you grow. The good think about dirt (troubles) is that it requires elbow grease. Perseverance. Perseverance develops character and character gives us strength. The purpose in pain is that if we are intentional about persevering through it we get stronger.
Take a moment to consider where you’re at in this season. If it is a painful season, are you paying attention to the pain or to the purpose? Are you facing a chasm with no bridge yet built? Are you successfully on the other side of a completed crossing? Are you at the in-between? Wherever you are there is purpose. Consider what this moment might represent 1 year from now. 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Perhaps you are in the day by day grind of raising elementary age children with a spouse of 10+ years. You’ve done a lot of life up to this point and maybe you’re just getting by day to day now. Day to day may seem same ‘ol same ‘ol but there is meaning in this time. You can pay attention to the drone of the monotony or you can intentionally pay attention to the purpose of this time. There is purpose in the after school chats about what Sally said to Sammy about Suzy. You will long for those chats in just a few years when that little one is in high-school and scheduled for more hours than they’re free. We have to be intentional about what we attend to. Your focus will direct your course. If you focus on the pain you will sink into the pain. If you focus on the purpose you will sink into, and grow from, the purpose. As the seasons of life change for you, pay attention to the purpose of each moment.
Taking the Next Step:
Maintain a daily journal and commit to a daily reflection time focused on paying attention to the purpose. Make note of what you realized today that connects to your past and what you did or learned today that will influence your future.