I hope you’re well.
I had an interesting discussion with my mom today. We discussed purpose and passion and the pursuit of happiness — all topics that I think evoke way more stress than they should.
The chat came a day after I found myself spiraling. I was so close to running again. Weather, bugs, and the lack of community almost sent me on another self-assigned mission to implode my life. I was thiiiiis close to packing it all up and movin’ to Beverly.
My pursuit of happiness became the happiness of pursuit long ago, so pausing to reflect on whether I’m running away from something, running toward something, or running because I’m a runner has been a daily “come to Jesus” moment for me in my quiet times with God.
I am one of the many people who used to be consumed by the need to understand my purpose.
Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? What are my natural talents? Who can I help?
I’m learning that many of my questions surrounding purpose stemmed from trauma and the early belief that I needed to earn love. I taught myself that I could alter a person’s treatment of me with more doing, more giving, and more abandoning of self. I believed that if I were helpful or useful or extraordinary or exceptional in some way, they’d see my value and, in turn, love me properly.
My childhood attempts at convincing my father to love me and the wish that my mother was less ambitious turned into an adult longing for purpose. I needed a reason to exist. I needed something meaningful to do. I mean, God doesn’t just make stuff for funsies, right?
Many years ago in San Diego, when I was in my mid-twenties, I heard something from a Bible study leader that I’ll never forget. He said:
“Love God with all your heart. All your soul. All your mind. And all your strength. Then do whatever you want.” Lamar Lacañgan
That freed me.
If you grew up in a Christian household, you lived with a certain level of fear. Live your life right or burn in an eternal lake of fire. Answer God’s call or waste your entire life and miss the mark. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life. I mean the stress, chile!
Before hearing Lamar’s words based on scripture (Matthew 22:37), I viewed God as some mischievous ruler, plopping me down on a Chess board and laughing at me while I stumbled to figure out the rules. Back then, I was right on the other side of heartbreak and homelessness, so life felt more confusing than necessary on most days and rigged to favor the house just about every other day.
But when I heard Lamar’s words, I believed them. It is still a daily process of loving God with all of my everything, but I think that process, that journey of becoming, is my purpose. Everyone’s purpose. That purpose is so simple and so complicated, but it comforts me to know I can’t get life wrong (or right.) Whatever I do to express God’s love to others is entirely up to me and can manifest in many ways.
God has never been mysterious or confusing, or secretive to me. If God has a specific mission for me to complete on Earth, which some do, I trust He’ll tell me.
What we gravitate toward and are good at gives us hints on how best to live our happiest lives, but the pressure of pinpointing my purpose became too heavy to carry. I had to lay it down.
I no longer view life as a game, dance, or test. Life is, and we are, and every day offers a new opportunity to experience God’s love and pass it on to the people around us. We can express that through our careers, natural gifts, learned talents, or simply through our being.
“It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
God wired me to run. To chase. To seek newness. Over time, a few of my wires got crossed, and I allowed that expression to become perverted by fear and pain. Exploring new places like Historic Downtown McKinney helps me run without straying. Roaming reminds me that home and my happiness are always wherever I am. I can love God and the people around me anywhere, in all sorts of ways.
I feel drawn to assisting others in unpacking their emotional bags through journaling. Is that my purpose? No, I don’t think so. But it helps me fulfill it.
We are all here to pursue God and love others. Everything else is up to us.
Candace Aliké Smith is a Dallas-based content writer and intentional living blogger. She founded CandaceAlikéSmith.com in 2015 to help women reclaim their vitality through self-care and self-reflection. Read Candace’s journal entries, and follow her content on holistic beauty, mental wellness, essential oils, non-toxic products, healthy libations, and wellness travel.
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