September 7, 2008

what constitutes a puposeful life...

*warning* - this post may be longer and deeper than most, proceed with caution

i've been thinking a lot lately. lots of ideas and pondering floating around in my brain. even though i knew these thoughts were all connected, i was having trouble making sense of them. thoughts about our purpose on this journey of life. i had tried to articulate a few of these thoughts to friends, but didn't really get anywhere. then wednesday night at bible study i had a breakthrough of sorts...i finally found a question that encompasses a large quantity of these thoughts. what constitutes living a purposeful life? my insane, type-a personality would really appreciate it if God would come down from heaven with a to-do list for each day of my life. then i would clearly see what i need to do, or not do, and go about the business of being purposeful. unfortunately for anal retentives like myself, this is not the case.
at the risk of sounding cliche, i'll point out that i do know the christian life isn't a list of do's and don't''s about relationship. it's dying to myself and allowing Jesus to live through if my fleshy self isn't even present. that sounds all well and good and i would like to be signed up for that. but then i wake up the next day and realize...i have no idea what this really looks like. i mean in the every day...going to work, getting gas, talking on the phone, etc, etc. i know we are to eat, drink, etc. to the glory of God, but how exactly do you do that?

here's where i get up on my singleness soap box. please don't mis-understand, this really isn't a pity party. do i want to be a wife and mom someday? yes. but i am happy and content with my life at the moment. (disclaimer: this does not mean that i don't still have bouts of envy for the married folk, but all in all...i have a pretty great life right now) the thing is, day to day "purpose" seems easier to come by as a married person. those little things that have to be done everyday, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. are not just mere chores anymore, but a way to honor your spouse and show love to them. you have a built in opportunity to put someone elses needs and desires above your own. (i realize this is often easier said than done...) add some children in the mix and your purpose/serving ratio shoots off the charts. but what about us single folk? i don't really have anyone elses opinion to put before my own in deciding what to eat for dinner. if my laundry basket gets a little fuller than normal, no one else is negatively affected. do you see my point?

which brings me to the ever evasive question...what does a purposeful life look like in the every day?


Rhianna Garber said...

Great post Shelly! It really got me thinking about some stuff. You made a great point about being married and having someone to serve other than yourself. I too often take that for granted. Thanks for the reminder!

the broomes said...

Yes, Shell: great post. You know, many saints (Paul included) consider singleness a gift that enables them to more fully serve Christ. But I must agree: the fact that even the mundane household chores hold value in serving my family does make married/mommy life more tangibly purposeful. Hmmm: I guess that you have more opportunity to serve Christ outside of those "ordinary, every-day" tasks. You know, I can't exactly pick up and go love orphans in Africa...but you can!!! It doesn't make either of our lives more or less purposeful...but I agree: I think that in the role of singleness, you may have to proactively pursue those ways to serve Christ a little more...whereas I need to consciously make the most of the everyday opportunities I have. I don't know...good thoughts, Shell. Thanks for the post!

Moxie said...

Beautifully written... We each can either bravely face that question, "What makes my life matter?" or skirt around the issue, busying ourselves with anything and everything to keep us occupied so that we don't have to be accountable for the happiness, peacefulness, and acceptance with life and our place in it that either we feel or don't feel. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to stay rooted to my purpose in life.

neubiewaters said...

Shelly -
Its good and ironic to read this post of yours. I often struggle in envy of the single life. I'm not unhappy in my life as it is, but I often daydream of being single and doing whatever. Which also means everyday things like picking up the lady who seems to be walking the 9 blocks to the grocery store in the 90 degree heat, etc...but I can't b/c I have to worry about the safety of my kids who are also in the car with me. So I guess the adage is true, the grass is always greener. I need to find greater contentment in laundry, dishes, meals and really view it as servanthood.