When I was little, I wanted to be a gymnast. After all, I knew how to do a one-handed cartwheel and I liked wearing colorful leotards. But when I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to make much money doing somersaults, I decided to be an accountant. I might not have been amazing with math, but I’d get absolutely giddy working with graph paper… all those boxes, organization, the neatness of numbers in different columns matching… it still excites me more than I should admit. As a teenager, I also loved the idea of doing the chalk drawings at Wegmans grocery store, and scooping ice cream at our favorite custard shop, Anderson’s. Sadly, however, neither of those places wanted to hire a girl whose family wouldn’t let her work on Sundays.
Still, the question remained: what am I going to do for the rest of my life? What on earth was I created for? Is what I’m doing making a difference? How is that even measured? Who in the world cares if I’m scooping ice cream? Cleaning houses? Teaching piano lessons? Babysitting? Does this even matter? What on earth was I even created for?
Each of us ask these questions from time to time. And for those graduating this time of year, they’re getting bombarded with them. We are born with a desire to know. To learn and fulfill. We want to chase after our dreams and fulfill the reason we were born.
As a Christian, I know that each of us were created with a purpose. A mission. Sometimes, our purpose changes with time. It might be related to the set of skills that God gave us. Or perhaps it has to do with the situation God brought us out of, or a place we found ourselves. Sometimes, it’s something that had been pulled out over a period of time. Other times, it was something that was born out of nowhere. It can come out of success and from tragedy. Some people strive their whole life to work toward their goals while others die without ever knowing why they were born. Our stories are as unique as our fingerprints.
But we all need to know.
Since I lost my son, I find myself determined to stay focused. To not let myself get sucked into the vortex of pity, self-destruction, and depression. Because it happens all too easily. I have to plan times to grieve, to cry, remember, and hurt. To let my tears sting my face and feel the pit of loss in my gut. And then I wipe my tears and keep going.
Do you know why?
Because I have a purpose.
I may never get into a cute colorful leotard again. You’re welcome. I may never get paid to use my teaching degree. And that’s okay. Because my purpose is being worked out every single day.
I am a mom.
Even with my emotional scars, I have a reason to move on: to care for the three kids I have been charged with here on earth. To teach them. Guide them. Show them love. Discipline. Encouragement. And spur them onto Christ. That. That is why I keep going. I believe that is the reason I was born. The reason I still have air in my lungs.
Linda is a friend of mine has a six-year-old daughter that was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was very young. It is a condition that outlines every bit of their day. Both girls have seen more than their fair share of blood, needles, pumps, and heartache.
When her daughter was first diagnosed, Linda was sent into a tailspin of “Why me? Why me?” She knew a bit of the challenges she’d have to deal with and she wasn’t sure how she would manage it. Shortly after that diagnosis, she learned that her daughter also had Celiac Disease. Oh, how much can one person take? She understood the seriousness of this diagnosis, both of them. She knew her life would be forever altered.
But she didn’t give up, admit defeat, and throw her hands up in surrender. She turned her questions from “Why me?” to “Why NOT me? I can help her. I can care for her. She’s my child and I love her more than anything.” She acknowledged her fears, channeled her anger and became an advocate for T1D. She raises money for research with the hopes that they will find a cure. She rallies a big group of supporters to walk in the JDRF Walk every year. She organized a group of other T1D moms around Western New York to band together for support. She works hard to teach and educate her daughter in how to best manage things in case a cure is not found in her lifetime.
Linda discovered what her purpose was: to be a mom. And together with her husband, they were going to care to this beautiful little girl and her wonderful older brother.
People tell Linda that she’s an inspiration. But she refuses to see it that way. Her response: This is my daughter. I want her to live. So I will do absolutely anything I can to fight for her. “I’m not angered by it anymore. It is just part of our family,” she told me.
For so many reasons that seem so obvious now, Linda was chosen to be this amazingly spirited girl’s mom. And because of that, God has already given her everything she needs to parent her. This is not the way that she originally imagined. But she is determined to find joy.
Because she found her purpose.
Linda said, “I feel it’s so important for people to know it doesn’t have to be some big ‘thing.’ It can be something so small… and when you realize what IT is… Ahhh, it feels so good.”
I don’t know what God has for each one of us. Your life’s mission may be drastically different than mine and Linda’s. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s good! Everyone brings something different to the table. But what a joy it is when you get glimpses of God’s plan. To understand pieces of why He put you here, and that level of satisfaction in knowing you’re doing your best to fulfill your mission. Like Linda said, it feels so good.
When you come to a life-altering event, you have two choices: to give up or keep going. And if you choose the latter, you’d need to know why you’re getting out of bed each morning. What you’re willing to fight for. Trust God to light the way. He promises to make things clear in His time. You just need to be willing to take that next step.
I doubt that I’ll ever be able to do a one-handed cartwheel again. But I can change a mean diaper… administer the most effective BandAids… and my oldest thinks that my singing voice is absolutely beautiful. “Just like in the movies, I get sleepy when you sing to me at bedtime.”
Purpose. Makes all the difference.