Forget Finding a Purpose

A quote kicking around my brain today came to me via His Voice Global‘s twitter. If you don’t know His Voice Global, check them out. They work to build and support orphanages around the world and have helped many kids get out of unimaginably terrible situations.

Not to get too “meta”, but they quoted Jon Acuff yesterday when they tweeted:

“Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty. Live with purpose instead.”

I’m filing this quote under “things I wish someone had told me 20 years ago.” I feel like my twenties and thirties have been a constant pursuit of that ONE THING (usually a job, a location, or a relationship) that I could dedicate my life to, that would not let me down and would be worth the commitment. And not finding it.

Because here’s the secret: that job, that city, that person is going to let you down. You’re going to be disappointed. If you’re a person who tends towards the cynical, you can let this fact of life keep you from ever moving forward (with anything). And yes, I am cynical.

But I’m also a dreamer. I wish there was a less hippie/frou-frou way of describing myself, but there’s no getting around it. I want to believe, so I moved from job to job, from location to location, thinking this would be the one, and being disappointed. And so I just see-sawed back and forth because I would jump quickly into the next great purpose and almost immediately discover the reason it would never have worked out anyway.

Because I know this about myself, it took me a long time to decide to pull the trigger and apply to the Iron Yard (drink). So what’s different about this time? Mainly this time is different because it’s me who’s changing, not simply my zip code or job title. I recognized that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is truly the definition of insanity.

I decided to do something I hadn’t really done before. I focused on gaining a skill so I can engage the world around me with a sense of purpose. It’s hard to articulate what a huge difference this makes, engaging those around you thinking first of what you are able to do for them (not just what you want to do for them, there’s a big difference).

So today, let’s live with purpose, as people who intentionally act in the world instead of empty vessels waiting to be filled with that exact right concoction that will finally make us whole.