Updated: Dec 24, 2022
I've been wrestling with the idea of life purpose. It's actually hard to separate from it as an important part of being human when you've been part of a movement that is completely based on purpose.
As humans, we need to know we matter. We need to know we contribute to something or that we are part of something. We need to understand our significance (or insignificance) in the great big world we live in.
I have lived my life passionately moving in purpose for most of my years. In fact, I would say that purpose trumped my relationships. What do I mean by that?
When we live with one of our highest values being towards a collective cause, then people become the secondary part of the cause. First the cause, then we get the people into the cause with us...and repeat. So the relationship with said people becomes second (after) to the collecting of them for the sake of the cause. It's kind of a mindfuck, really, because in these "causes" we often say that people are the highest value, right relationships are the top priority, and it's because people need to be saved that we are even part of the cause in the first place. Right?
We speak of relational priority but let's be honest...if they weren't "in" the cause or being pursued into the cause, a relationship with them wouldn't be the priority.
If you've been part of evangelical "anything" (meaning the driving force or purpose is to evangelize) then you know that your energy is not spent on those "outside" the cause UNLESS you are drawing them INTO the cause. Do phrases like "friendship evangelism" sound familiar?
I'm using a lot of quotes simply because we have this language that goes with the cause. It's specific and powerful. I want it to stand out to you. I want it to pop on your page as you read. I want you to recognize the inside language we use.
When in these evangelistic environments for years upon years, it becomes culture to be "purpose-driven". Books are written about it. Sermons preached on it. It's how we recruit. It's how we keep the momentum moving in the direction of evangelism.
And I think it's why the word PURPOSE becomes so complex for us.
Our identity inside these cultures and belief systems is woven into the passionate drive purpose offers us. We actually can't even exist inside these cultures without it. Think about it for a moment.
Sermons preach to us:
we cannot be lukewarm. We are either hot or cold.
our faith is to be seen from the outside, a light to the world.
go into all the world and preach this news
go after the one lost sheep...save. save. save.
There's lots more, but the point is that we aren't existing inside these belief systems for personal mindfulness or for any level of complacency. We must be doing. We must be purposeful.
Many of us need a purpose to finish a goal like degrees, career skills, projects, building and creating things, businesses, etc. It has its place if we need to become singular about something for a season. The trap even in this reason for purpose is that when the goal is accomplished we sometimes feel a "loss of purpose". It can be a place of identity struggle since we came to understand ourselves in light of the season of purpose.
And what happens when we start to step out of this season, chase, culture or belief system? What happens to this deeply embedded understanding of our way of living with purpose? Are we supposed to find new purpose? Some of us jump to the next purpose and we continue the cycle from one purpose to another. It works, but is it good for us? That has been my question lately.
I think this is one of the more complex parts of deconstruction because it feels the most like we are NOT living anymore if we don't have a purpose. We only know how to live driven by purpose. For those deconstructing from a belief system or way of life, purpose was more than a season to pass through. It was who we were! Without a life purpose, we often don't know how to exist.
I'd like to propose that there is another way to live.
What if living wasn't about this drive to fulfill a mission of sorts and instead it was about pure curiosity?
Could you consider for a moment what it would feel like, look like, to not have something you were aiming for and just be curious? Where would it take you? Would you need to know where you are going BEFORE you could be curious? If so, maybe you are still bound to purpose.
After my brain surgeries and the near loss of my marriage (well, it was a loss of that marriage...we built a new one), I became highly aware of how much priority had been placed on purpose versus the actual humans in my life. The call of God was second to nothing. Nothing. Not even my own health. I started to question that if the purpose I was being driven by was costing me the very people I loved, then what was the point of the purpose?
Years later, I find myself in a new space with this tricky word. If I'm going to use the word purpose, I use it like this:
My purpose is to be here right now and nowhere else.
Without the word "purpose" used at all:
I'm just free to be curious today.
I'm free to live in what this day has to offer me AND create whatever I want in it.
I'm free to be relational without agenda.
I'm free to love without expectation.
I'm free to be energized, entertained, and expanded by the very moment I'm in.
You see, purpose keeps us focused on THE ONE THING. I'm not interested in just the one thing anymore. I'm interested in ALL of the things and ALL of the people.
I think purpose is a very small box with very tight rules.
What if you stopped chasing purpose?
What if you stopped using the word purpose in relation to your identity?
What if living without purpose was your greatest liberation?
If that feels unimaginable, then we have work to do to release ourselves from oppressive beliefs and programming. Because...agenda is oppressive. It's oppressive to you and to others. Purpose is agenda, whether you like hearing that or not. The only agenda we should have is to be human...and that, my friend, is an awfully big adventure!
Here's my promise to you if this sounds way too outside the ability to live a full life...I promise that you are more than a purpose. What if you took a chance to find that out?
Liberate your purpose and you liberate your story!