*  Please note this is a series.  To start from the beginning, click on “Stinkin’ Thinkin Makeover” under the header and read away!

 So, I found myself running like a chicken without a head and the main person suffering?  Me.  And a close second to my suffering was that of those I love the most – my husband.  My children.  And for sure, my God.

“Why am I so busy?” I wondered.  “What is it that keeps me burning the candle at both ends and feeling like I just can’t ever catch-up?”

The pause that became peace led me to examine.

I reflected on my own story.  I looked at my passions. And I started to write it out.

God’s hand has been everywhere in my story (as well as yours.)  This isn’t just for the select few.  His fingerprints are all over the footprints of our lives.

Abortion. Divorce. Alcoholic father. Former elementary teacher. Blessed with authentic female friendships.  Do you see the story He’s weaving?

Trust me, you’ll be amazed at the work He’s doing with you if you take some time to really marvel at its beauty.

I don’t like to focus on what He’s delivered us FROM but rather on what He’s delivered us TO  so while I don’t dwell on past wounds, I am aware that He won’t walk us through something just to do it.  He expects us to use it and He’ll make beauty from ashes every time.

Of course, our main purpose is to love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, share the gospel, and use the gifts He’s given each of us.  But how do we most effectively use our gifts to achieve these greater callings?

After examining my testimony, I identified my own passions: 1) Ministering to women in general 2) Ministering to women in crisis-pregnancy situations and abortion recovery 3) the homeless (my father was homeless for two years) and of course, most importantly, being the wife I’m called to be and supporting my children.

So now if I’m asked to do something out of this framework, I still pray but very likely, I’ll politely decline.  If I’m asked to do something within this framework, I pray and if I feel the spirit leading me, I accept.  If the spirit is not leading me, I don’t.

And I should probably also add that I don’t feel guilty about it anymore.  I once felt HORRIBLE if I said “no” but then I began to see it was a pride thing.  Who am I to think I’m the only who can do this?  When we say “yes” though we don’t really WANT to do what we’re saying “yes” to, we are taking the opportunity for someone else to serve who might just be waiting to be asked.

Sometimes I just need to get out of the way of myself.

Our friends, Jay and Beth Loecken of Passion to Action, ask participants in their study  to do something called Strengthfinder 2.0. In a nutshell, this little quiz (you must purchase the book with an access code to take a test online) will spit-out your top five strengths after asking you a series of questions.

That’s right.  Not what you need to improve but what you’re already good at doing anyway.  The rationale, which I love, is that instead of focusing on improving our weaknesses (because let’s face it, I can tell you right now no matter how much I try to improve my physics skills, I won’t ever be a physics professor), we need to focus on what we bring to the table.

So, now I know that I can serve the above passions through my own strengths of communication, connectedness, woo, belief, and empathy. (These are categories from the book.  I didn’t just throw “woo” in there for fun. It really is a category.)

Here are ten (sort of) ways to identify your purpose:

1.  Write out your story.  Trust me when I say this is powerful.  To see it in print all in one place?  You’ll see His hand everywhere.

2.  Identify what makes you tick.  What keeps you up at night?  What stirs up righteous anger in you?  Maybe it’s from your story or maybe not but regardless, identify those triggers.

3.  Identify your strengths. If you don’t know your strengths, I strongly recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0 – worth every penny of the $14.39.

4.  Create an action plan.  Based on my passions (what makes me tick) and my strengths, who could I serve?  How could I serve them?

5.  When you are asked to do something outside of what you have identified,  pray first (of course) but very likely, you won’t accept because you have identified your purpose.

6.  If you’re asked to do something within your purpose, pray through it.  Accept if you feel the nudge.  Decline if you don’t.

7.  Release yourself from guilt. 

8. Release yourself from guilt.

9.  Release yourself from guilt.

10.  Release yourself from guilt.

Click for a free “Finding Your Purpose, Using Your Strengths To Serve, and Saying “No” Without Guilt” worksheet to assist you on this journey, sister.

And can I also add that your purpose for right now might not be to feed the hungry in Africa or to travel to the Middle East to pass out Bibles.  Not to diminish these wonderful works, but sometimes we as mama’s and wives can feel small.  Insignificant because we aren’t “doing more.” After all, we’re “just” moms’ right?

That “just” describes the most important job we could ever do. Our mission field resides right under our own roof.

So maybe your “yeses” (is that a word?) need to go to only things that support your children and husband.

And that’s OK.  In fact, that’s more than OK. So please don’t diminish your purpose by dimming your light, sisters.

What about you?  What stirs your soul into righteous anger?  What do people say you’re good at doing?