In my 20s, I never really wrestled with questions like, “What is the purpose of my life?”, or “Why am I here?” Even as I chased my dream of becoming a full-time musician, I didn’t think about it as my “life’s purpose”. I just loved writing songs, so I did. I used the word “passion” back then, but I rarely went any deeper. As I got older and my music career was slowing down, I eventually came face to face with an inevitable question for someone standing at a crossroads of life:
If not music, then what is my life’s purpose?
And worse yet, if I can’t figure it out in time, will the rest of my life be wasted? That turned out to be a much harder question to answer than I had hoped.
During a conversation with some friends around that same time, I mentioned that I had really been wrestling with what my purpose was because I wasn’t sure what the future held for me professionally. One response caught me off guard,
“It sounds like your identity isn’t in Christ, so you’re searching for it everywhere else.”
I didn’t initially know what to say, and couldn’t pinpoint exactly why her accusation didn’t sit right, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we were talking about two different things. I wasn’t confused about my eternal identity. I was confused about my temporal one.
I wasn’t struggling to understand what to do eternally, I was struggling to understand what to do tomorrow.
But it was that realization that eventually helped me find clarity.
In thinking through a more fluid, moment-to-moment shaped lens (vs. a long-term, singular purpose-oriented one), I was able to appreciate the power of change. I was able to embrace the fact that, in the temporal world, every moment of every day was different.
The universe was always changing, the weather was always changing, the time was always changing, my feelings were (for the most part) always changing, my thoughts were always changing, everyone around me was always changing, and I was always changing too.
Seeing life kaleidoscope like that helped me realize that my purpose might also be ever-evolving. Although I didn’t think much about it in my 20s, I now realize that I had grown up under the assumption that everyone had one, lifelong purpose. I had never really considered that my calling might consist of several, ever-changing things. And the more I explore, the more I realize that my true purpose can always be found under the umbrella of love and service.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Matthew 22:37-39
Notice how Jesus' words point to our eternal identity (love God) in the first verse, and point to our temporal identity (love others) in the second verse.
I used to put a lot of pressure on the word purpose. Now I know my temporal purpose is expanded daily by my eternal one, which is to love and serve. My purpose is to love and serve through the things that I create; through my work and my music, and whatever else I go on to do.
My purpose is to love and serve:
- As a husband
- As a father
- As a son
- As a brother
- As a friend
- As a neighbor
- Through work
- Through play
- Through music
- Through sharing ideas
And so on, and so on, and so on.
I can create music and be living my purpose. I can share ideas through this newsletter and be living my purpose.
I can follow my heart in a thousand different ways and be living my purpose.
And so can you.
We’re never really at a crossroads, we’re all just on a journey. Our job is to pave the winding road of love and service that changes as often as we do.
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