On Black Friday, when millions were hunting and wrestling for the best “deals,” I was traipsing through a local forest. It had been awhile since I’d been out to this forest, and I was so struck by the stillness that I sat and just listened to the wind in the trees for about 30 minutes.
I always enjoy Thanksgiving weekend, even though I’ve only been able to go “home” once in the last 15 years. For many years, I wasn’t able to travel home for the holiday, and even now it is difficult, so I simply spend the weekend alone.
If you’re an extrovert, that must sound like torture! But for me, an introvert, it is heaven. Whether I intend it or not, I find myself spending quite a bit of time in reflection, and I always come out with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
Do you believe there is a purpose for your life?
The entire time I was growing up, my mother quoted Jeremiah 29:11 over me: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV).
It was particularly poignant because I had almost died as a newborn infant and was given slim odds to reach my second birthday. Obviously, I beat the odds; even more, I’ve had an extraordinary life without the limitations my condition should have imposed. Clearly, God had a purpose for my life if He healed me so completely.
As I’ve stepped into the field of professional development training and coaching, I’ve come to believe more and more strongly that each individual has a unique purpose. It doesn’t require a miracle story to recognize your purpose. It simply takes a stillness that leads to an awareness of the direction your life has taken.
Do you see the path set before you?
God is not trying to hide your purpose from you! He has provided many signs for you, but you must be looking for them to find them.
I talk a lot about finding your SHAPE, a concept taken from Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. The E in SHAPE is your experiences. If you take time to look at not only your work and educational experiences but also family and spiritual experiences, you will begin to find a common thread.
Jeff Goins, in his book The Art of Work, says, “If you pay attention to your life and the lessons it can teach you, you won’t feel so lost. Your story will seem less like a series of disjointed events and more like a beautifully complex narrative unfolding before you” (p. 21-22).
For me that narrative has to do with establishing and losing relationships. This thread runs through all areas of my life: the high points almost always relate to feeling connected to family, friends, classmates, and colleagues; the low points almost always relate to feeling rejected and abandoned by family, friends, classmates, and colleagues. This really goes a long way to explain my personal mission to help people build stronger relationships through more effective communication skills.
Have you been paying attention to your life? People say experience is the best teacher, but John Maxwell disagrees; he says evaluated experience is. What have you learned from your experiences?
Video variation on my blog post, including a peek at my experience narrative!
Online resources to discover your SHAPE
One of the things I love the most about John Maxwell’s 7-Day Experiment in Intentional Living is how focused it is on creating stronger relationships with the people around you. Join the intentional living movement! Click here to start your 7-day experiment with John Maxwell!