As a misfit, I’ve spent most of my 38 years on earth looking for my purpose in life.
I was raised Lutheran, and although I had a few moments of feeling like part of the church community, I always pushed for change. The church was very antiquated, had no youth programs outside of Sunday school, had an ageing congregation that spent more time preparing for their passage to heaven, or playing politics than really doing anything in the community at large.
Lutherans aren’t evangelical, they’re generally moderate protestant and follow a more apostolic doctrine th and what is shown with other Christian denominations on the media.
I wasn’t evangelical, but I was thoroughly convinced that the reason I couldn’t engage and being is because there was nothing there for me.
So I made a proposal to the church pastor for a youth group. He wasn’t keen. He also wasn’t a nice man. But I persisted, I asked I bugged, and badgered. For almost a year every Sunday I asked, I mentioned the idea to elders and was generally a thorn in the side of the church hierarchy.
Along came the youth group leader. He was and probably still is fantastic, families started coming on more often, his youthful vibrance was contagious, there was youth performances in music and reverence renewed.
Then the pastor had a falling out with an elder who’s daughter had a child out of wedlock. He refused to baptize the infant. There was uproar people leaving and so on. Then his wife showed up one day to church with a fist sized bruise on her cheek.
I saw it. I saw the angry swollen skin that she must have painstaking caked makeup over while choking back tears. I was horrified, I felt so bad for her, and so angry at the pastor.
A lot changed after that. The youth leader knew a young pastor with a young family, and many things changed.
I had questions, and even with a whole new church, there were never answers and I still never quite fit in.
This was the first social change I’d made, and it’s been a continual trend.
What does this all have to do with purpose you might ask.
I’m apostate at this point in my life, but I see that church even for the faithless has an important role in some people’s lives. The sense of community and belonging, the predictability and routine all can offer a sense of security. Community service and programs can help with the need for a sense of purpose in individuals.
I’ve always envied the people that I meet that knew what they were going to be early on in life, and somehow remained steadfast in that drive, and have accomplished their goals.
I envy it, because nothing ever clicked for long, and it’s taken years of personality tests and forums to compare experiences to understand that, by nature I’m not actually inclined for a singular Purpose, and it’s okay.
So what does this mean? It means looking at the long term consistent activities in my life, even if there are lengthy stints and breaks.
Looking at things that may have seemed trivial or irrelevant (such as the above situation) and seeing my role in what happened in it objectively.
That little fight to create change, and my persistence and fearlessness is a key to my purpose. Maybe my purpose is to find small things in life that could use improvement, persist until that thing is complete hand it off to the doers and people with the sense of purpose that fits, and then move to another thing.
This is of course anecdotal, and each person is different. But for anyone sitting at home in their late thirties still wondering what they should be when they grow up, or what their purpose is, maybe it’s hiding in your earliest passions.