how to find your purpose in the pandemic

By August 17, 2020article

Today my phone rang and when I looked at the screen, I was surprised to see that it wasn’t a robot calling me to sell me an extended warranty on the car we sold last year. It was one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and seeing her name on my phone made me ridiculously happy.

We talked for a while, about our kids’ virtual school lives, how our husbands were doing, whether or not we will ever need dressy clothes again, and at one point we chatted about the ever-elusive purpose we both long to have in life.

Man, we want our lives to count.

I don’t know what kind of delusional identity we all seem to be carrying around, but for some reason, it’s always easier to see that other people have a purpose and so challenging to believe that our own lives are worthy of value and meaning. Most of us battle some kind of imposter syndrome or the nagging feeling that how we’re spending our days isn’t quite enough.

2020 has brought this issue to the forefront for me because I had very specific ideas about the purpose of this year. My 2020 plans intimidated me, actually. They required lots of people and travel (not my natural comfort zones at all.) My plans asked me to do tons of marketing work for my book release. They would require me to get out of bed every morning and do all the uncomfortable parts of the writing life that I wish I didn’t have to do.

Then, 2020 canceled all my plans. It let me off the hook, but it also left me scrambling to figure out how to live purposefully while caged in like this.

For a while there, finding toilet paper and seeking out decent pantry items were my sole purpose in life. Once the grocery stores no longer looked like abandoned warehouses, my purpose was to find the best mask that may or may not actually be helpful in stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s actual footage of me in Costco wearing the one I chose:

These days, my purpose is to be the tech (non)expert of our house. I have been somehow tasked with making sure all my kids and my husband can log into zoom simultaneously and fulfill their purposes each day.

I just sit around all day, waiting for them to run out of their rooms and shout, “I can’t connect! I have no internet!”

It’s super fun and I love my new life more than eating garbage or cleaning toilets with a toothbrush. #blessed

Today, as I brushed my teeth (not with a toilet cleaning toothbrush), I thought of two facts simultaneously:

1. We have no idea how long this virtual schooling will go on.

2. My four favorite kids will (probably) all be leaving home in the next 2-5 years.

I held the fragile future in my hand for this brief moment, and I felt the weight of purpose today holds.

These days won’t last forever, and that is both the best news I’ve heard all day and the saddest fact about life.

Here in the slowest year ever, we are all becoming new creations.  We are cultivating new plans as we lose the plans that once seemed meaningful. We are learning new ways to hope that hard seasons will pass. We are serving and loving our friends and families with new skills and talents. We are becoming light-seekers if only because the darkness seems so all-encompassing.

Our endurance and our patience are growing, bit by bit, day by day.

When I look around me, I can see the way the future is tethered to us here in 2020. I see the people we are becoming out on the horizon. And, man, we look glorious.

Our purpose is not to merely survive a pandemic. It is not to make a million dollars or become famous or write a bestselling book.

Our purpose isn’t something we find or achieve, it’s the connection of who we are to who God is. Nothing can rob us of our purpose. No pandemic can cancel it. Our purpose is bound up in our being, and every act of love we pursue releases God’s glory out into the world one tiny flicker at a time.

Tonight, I will dish up leftovers for my family and no one will be excited about it. I’ll hack away at a book I’m trying to write. I’ll check and recheck our calendar to make sure everything is covered for this week. I’ll take a walk after the sun sets to try to get my steps in.

And when I lay my head down on my pillow, I will have to admit that very little of my day seemed to have a great purpose.

But things are not always as they seem.

I will fall asleep smiling because this girl is learning how to live out her purpose, and I can’t wait to see who I become next.

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