Sometimes I feel like a trained monkey could do my job.
OK, maybe not as much now, because I don’t think monkeys have the emotional capacity to parent teens. (Sometimes I’m not entirely certain I do either, but that’s another story for another day…) But when my kids were little, this definitely rang true. Changing diapers, making bottles, putting away toys… Some days I would fall onto the couch and think, “I went to college… for this?”
I didn’t feel very significant.
I think many of us have days like those, whether we have little kids at home or not. The day-to-day routines, the mundane rhythms of life can leave us wondering whether we are doing anything worthwhile. So, determined to matter, we start adding more to our lives.
At first, I joined MOPS, a fantastic organization for moms of little ones. But when that didn’t fill the void, I added more: music ministry, a monthly playdate group, writing, joining Bible studies, event planning, taking meals to other families, even a little retail therapy. I kept adding more and more, waiting for the moment it felt like enough—that I felt like enough.
Instead, I just felt stressed. And insignificant.
Does this feel familiar at all? Maybe your life feels overloaded with commitments and you can’t fit it all in—but you can’t let go of anything either. Or maybe your life feels small when you look at what everyone around you is doing, and you can’t quite imagine ever being significant enough. Or maybe you are absolutely nailing life and accomplishing great things… but a little voice inside tells you that you still don’t quite measure up.
My friend, I am here to tell you that you matter. You have a purpose. God has created you to be someone. And you can live your life with purpose and joy. Without overloading yourself. Without needing to meet some vague and unattainable standard.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? Let’s get started.
We live in a culture that tells us we can have it all and do it all. I’m here to tell you that maybe you can… but it isn’t wise. And it isn’t healthy. And it definitely isn’t the answer to the void you’re feeling.
I know—I know—how easy it is to look at social media and immediately find yourself falling short. We see women online who are throwing Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, putting together gourmet meals from scratch (with locally-sourced, organic ingredients, of course), maintaining beautiful and well-organized homes, keeping those marriage fires burning, investing in a circle of deep and meaningful friendships, and pouring themselves into deep, daily Bible study. How can we possibly measure up?
We can’t. Because no one can. That’s the magic of social media, my friend. It takes a whole population of women, most of whom are doing one or two things really well, and morphs them in our mind’s eye into one single Superwoman who is doing it all. But that is just smoke and mirrors. No one is doing it all. This is an impossible standard of significance that no one can achieve.
If you want to find your identity, to live a life of significance, to be more… maybe it’s time to do less.
Repeat after me: I will never find my significance in the number or size of my accomplishments.
OK, so the way I’ve been trying to find my significance isn’t working. Now what?
Well, first we need to decide what or who determines our significance. Who gets to say that we matter? Our kids? Well, sure, they need us. But if I take my cues on my value from them, I am in for a roller coaster ride. And I probably won’t be a very good parent, either. So they’re out. What about my husband? I love that man more than anyone in this world, but he is still just that: a man. He’s human, and sometimes his mood affects his outlook and our interactions. One bad day on his part could send me into a tailspin. Coworkers, friends, family—they’re all human, too, so probably not a good starting point. And we’ve already seen the danger of turning to social media for help here.
Where does that leave us?
Well, let me put it this way… If I invent something new and put it out into the world, I have to tell people what it is and what it does. It is my job as the creator to define my creation, to give it purpose.
Do you see where I’m going here?
As our creator, God alone gets to determine our purpose. And if we want to know what that purpose is, we need to go to the source.
The most important step in finding our purpose is the one we most often forget: knowing the One who gives us purpose. Because if we don’t trust the One who defines us, why would we trust what he says about us?
Don’t skip past this. It’s easy to think, “Yeah, OK, I trust God. Now what?” But when we do that, we miss the whole point. The Westminster catechism encourages us, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
Did you catch that? Our “chief end”—our primary purpose—is to glorify God and enjoy him. Glorify and enjoy God. Spend some time here. Really think about this. Over and over we ask, “Why did Got put me here?” And here is the answer: our primary purpose is to glorify and enjoy God.
As Jen Wilkin says in Women of the Word, “The heart can’t love what the mind doesn’t know.” So start here. The best possible thing you can do in your search for significance is to learn more about God.
Study your Bible. Spend time in prayer. Study your Bible some more. Pray more.
I really cannot emphasize this enough. This is the single most important step in finding our significance. And it’s not about us at all. I’m not telling you to search your Bible for answers about God’s plan for you. I’m telling you to search your Bible for answers about who God is. I want you to know him so you can love him. Because that is your primary purpose. That is your significance.
Where do we start? Well, read your Bible. That’s the simple answer. But I know that you might want a slightly more directed answer than that. Here are a few suggestions:
- Finding Jesus by, well, me – Yes, I know it is a Christmas devotional. But Jesus is foundational in our understanding of who God is and what he wants from us. This is a short devotional that is great at any time of the year.
- Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin – This is a fantastic resource to help you understand the importance of studying God’s Word and some great methods for doing it. Devotionals can be helpful, but it is so important that we study the Bible for ourselves, to get our information directly from the source.
- The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson – This book absolutely transformed my prayer life. Mark Batterson does a fantastic job of encouraging readers to pray boldly while remembering that prayer is about getting our hearts in line with God’s, not about “making” God do what we want. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
(The above links are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small benefit if you use them to make a purchase.)
As we dig into God’s Word and get to know him better, we begin to fully understand that we were indeed made on purpose, for a purpose. And we know that our “chief end” is to glorify and enjoy him—but we might still be wondering how we do that. What does that look like in my life?
Yes! Great question! And that’s exactly what I want us to explore together. I want you to see that God has made you on purpose, for a purpose—and you don’t have to have thousands of “followers” or move halfway around the world or do Big Important Things to find it! God wants to use you right where you are. He wants you to “take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1 The Message).
So let’s do it together. You can start by grabbing this free tool I created to help you identify who God has made you to be. Then come back and walk with me on this journey of purpose, because we could all use a companion on the road.
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