Friday, July 1, 2011
We Crave Purpose
"He has also set eternity in the human heart..." Ecclesiastes 3:11
It doesn't matter what country we're born in. It doesn't matter our race, original language or culture. It doesn't even matter what religion we identify with. Every human being is born with basic needs. We need physical sustenance, like water and food. We need protection from the harsh elements of the environment, like clothing and shelter. We need physical activity, and its antithesis, rest.
We have inherent needs on the inside of us that must be met as well. There's the need for physical touch from others. We have a need for love. We desire to belong and be a part of a group. And what about the need to know there's some reason behind life and this world? That we aren't just actors on some cosmic stage... there's something meaningful to all of this.
And what about the need to know that I am here for a reason? I need to know that that particular sperm cell from my father and that specific egg from my mother connected to form what would be me for a specific reason. I just gotta believe that I am no coincidence, that my life isn't happenstance. I am here on purpose, for a purpose. Even if I'm clueless to what that purpose is, I won't be able to withstand the trials and disappointments of life if I think I'm here for nothing.
Erwin McManus, one of my favorite preachers I've never met, wrote an enlightening book entitled Soul Cravings. (When you've got an extra twenty minutes, check out McManus' documentary at http://powertochange.com/itv/spirituality/crave-the-documentary/. Believe me -- it's revolutionary.) McManus devotes a third of his book and documentary to this human need for purpose or destiny. "We need both to aspire and accomplish," says McManus. "Without vision for your life, without a sense of purpose, you will begin to die a slow death."
On my thirtieth birthday, my husband Anthony threw a wonderful surprise birthday party for me at one of my favorite restaurants, B. Smith's in Washington D.C. Along with a couple of my dear friends, he planned for months, pulling out all the stops. The food was utterly delicious. Our families and my closest friends were there with bells on. Some had even traveled many miles to be there. He'd produced a slide show of my fondest memories throughout my three decades. Everything was perfect except for one thing... I was miserable.
For one thing, I hate surprises. Okay, maybe I'm okay with surprises -- if I can plan them. Also, I don't like fanfare. I can't think of any occasion that I want to be the center of attention for hours on end. As beautiful as my wedding was, and as much as I appreciated all of our guests and well-wishers, I realized years later that a "destination wedding" would have been so much more suited for me. But in 1994, few people were doing that, except movie stars and wealthy folks.
After some time passed, however, I took some time to really examine why I struggled so much at my surprise party. I realized it wasn't the party I had a problem with, it was turning thirty. And it wasn't really turning thirty either. I didn't feel "old" at all. It was turning thirty before I felt like I had accomplished anything worthwhile in life. Sure I had managed to stay married through the ups and downs of life and had a beautiful baby boy. But I'd often felt like Maxine in the 1997 film Soul Food. After her younger sister Bird commented on how admirable and strong Max was, she said, "Me? All I've got in life is a husband and some kids, with their bad a****." Like Max, I was disregarding the influence I'd had in the lives of those around me: my husband, my family, my friends and fellow church members.
So no, I hadn't become the television producer I had aspired to be. I hadn't written for television sitcoms like I'd dreamed of. But I had supported Anthony as he climbed the corporate ladder in the telecommunications world. I had sacrificed my career aspirations to become a full-time homemaker and mom to my young son. I had written, directed and acted in church plays that packed the house back in the day. (Watch out, Spike Lee!) And while Anthony served as director of our youth ministry, I had spent countless hours with teenagers, developing relationships. And the list goes on and on. Eleven years later, I can see that now. But I couldn't see it on December 9, 1999.
So what was the root of my thirtieth birthday angst? I had a strong need for purpose. I needed to know that my life counted. I knew there had to be something more out there for me to do. I just needed patience to wait for God to work in and through me. Over the years, God has continued to unfold His plan for me. I believe that my purpose will continue to be revealed as long as I have breath in my lungs. All I have to do is stay close to God. As long as I abide in Him, He will continue to produce fruit through my life.
Having crossed the threshold of forty, I'm still not a big-time television producer. I haven't published a book yet. I've still got dreams and desires that I have yet to obtain. But man, have I got PURPOSE. I know why I'm here. I know I matter to God and others around me.
On July 1, 2011, I can say with certainty that my life is no coincidence. And neither is yours.
Purposed For Him,
p.s. Don't forget to visit the other ladies I'm blogging with this month. Their sites are: www.moniquezackery.blogspot.com