Earlier this week I wrote about the woman I wanted to slap for being jealous of my sucky, supposedly purpose-filled life. Three years later, I get it. Today I want to highlight some of the things in my life that feel full of purpose.
But I need you to promise me something. No, three somethings:
1.) Promise me you won’t compare your life to mine. (and I promise the same)
2.) Promise me you won’t forget what we’ve gone through to get to where we are. (and the things we’ve had to give up–we’re not martyrs, but we’ve made some hard choices)
3.) Promise me you’ll brainstorm your own list, no matter what zip code or continent you call home. (Either things you’re already doing or things you dream of doing.)
My heart hurts for people who feel like they have no purpose, and I sometimes feel guilty for having more purpose than I know what to do with. But I also believe that, if you’re in hard season, it can make you stronger if you let it. And, if you make the hard, risky choice to pursue a meaningful life, you will have one.
We can all have one.
I’m excited to cheer you on as you intentionally pursue a life of purpose.
Things That Fill My Life with Purpose:
I have the opportunity to learn a foreign language (a lifelong dream of mine). And it’s not just any language. It’s a language that isn’t good for much of anything except communicating with the people who live in one very small country in the world. By taking the time, sweat, and tears (and these are literal sweat & tears), I am saying to the Cambodian people, “You are important to me. So important that I want to learn your native tongue so we can be honest-to-goodness friends and do life together.”
Instead of driving my own car wherever I want to go, I hire a tuk-tuk driver. Each time I go somewhere (school, the market, post office, church, a friend’s house), he earns money to support himself. And lucky us. Our favorite driver (who we call 100% of the time and only use someone else if he’s busy) has become our friend.
When I buy fruits & vegetables at the market, I am supporting local people who work long, hard days to support their families. The money goes directly to them, not to a supermarket, then to a truck driver, then to a big farm company, then trickles down to the workers.
I get to take pictures on my phone every single day of my new home and the people I’ve grown to love and share them with people I love back in the States. I have the privilege of helping my American friends open their eyes to a new world and ways God might be calling them to share his love with others in need.
When I want to bless friends back in the U.S. with little gifts from Cambodia, I can go to my friend’s market stall and get beautiful bracelets and cards. My friend was burned very badly many years ago, but she has worked hard to overcome, and she is a very successful (and humble and sweet) business woman. I love to trade her money for her beautiful things.
Any time I eat out at a restaurant, I am supporting local businesses. There are a few chains here, but we mostly avoid them. My money goes to hard-working Khmer, and I get to practice speaking their language and share laughs and enjoy a meal in the great (sweltering hot) outdoors with my family.
I get to shake my head in awe every single day at the man my husband has become after three years of being stripped down to nothing. He is everything he was before his heart attack but way, way more. He is friendly and outgoing and adventurous and curious and brave and never stops learning or exploring or creating or helping. I am BLOWN AWAY.
I get to edit other people’s stories and help earn a living for my family. And, as time permits, I get to work on my own stuff. Writing is my favorite thing to do in all the world (well, tied with reading), and I get to do it here. And it’s purposeful. And I can’t get over it.
I get to trust God with our finances and our future, and I get to believe that he will provide for our needs when we’ve only raised 33% of the monthly support we need (+ school). I get to trust him that, when it’s time to visit the States, he will provide a way for us to purchase 5 round-trip plane tickets. I get to trust him to take care of us while we give to others. I’m sooooooo much better at this than I used to be.
I get to watch my unschooled daughters learn more in 5 months than I learned in 12+ years of school. People here are flabbergasted by this unschooling notion, so I don’t really try to explain it, but I have never, ever, ever been more sure that the “important” stuff you learn in school isn’t nearly as important as we imagine it to be.
I get to support a beautiful young woman pursuing her dreams in exchange for her help, freeing me up to do what I need to do.
I get to observe Gabe hanging out with a group of young men every Tuesday afternoon, teaching them photography & photoshop skills as an alternative to the occupation they once (or sometimes currently) held. (Click this link. It’s such a beautiful thing.) I love to see Gabe living this out: Daily, we see the sparks of hope being lit in the eyes of these who are the most despised and unwanted by their own culture. We believe in them. And they know it.
I get to hear all about Gabe’s Thursday afternoons as well, when he hangs out with a younger group of boys, doing similar things. Last week he took them to the 22nd floor of a building, to the restaurant on the roof, and they took pictures of their city from the sky (none of them had ever been up so high!). I’m so proud of Gabe for being such a loving role model to these boys who have mostly experienced male foreigners as predators.
I get to pray for people all around me and live out the gospel while I wait for the words to be able to tell them about Jesus in Khmer.
I get to learn & grow (and mess up) alongside some really special people God has put in my little family. It’s an honor to be his wife & their mom.
(Apparently, I think I’m writing an e-book here. Let’s call it a day.)
(One last reminder that I only shared the good stuff in this post. I left out the family squabbles & meltdowns & tears over missing family beach vacations happening without us & diarrhea & triple-digit heat & constant sweating & mosquitos & ants & cockroaches & no Chipotle & girls disrespecting their parents & learning a hard language & making ends meet & things/people we miss & the hormones of 2 teenage girls + 1 who acts like one & the strain of being together so much & often feeling misunderstood & everything feeling too hard some days & so on, so on, so on. So, take heart. You can be a mess AND live a life of purpose simultaneously. Yay!)
YOUR TURN: What are some things that fill your life with purpose? And/or what are some DREAMS you have for a purpose-filled life?
(And, if you’re struggling to find your purpose, let’s pray about it together.)