* 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?
Thank you for posting this today. I am intrigued to write out my story…. there is so much pain in it, but I know the places already where I began to see God’s hand. (in retrospect) . Although it would be extremely hard, I think picking out my strengths would be even harder! Think I need to get to work on this! :)
Oh, it’s so powerful, Lisa! I strongly recommend it!
Girl, your strengths are off the charts – DO IT!!!!!
Thanks for reading and commenting, sister!
It’s ironic you mentioned your father being homeless. Back in the early new millenium, my life spiraled down. In an abusive relationship (yes, guys are abused too), being on the wrong side of the tracks, having a job going nowhere. Those sort of damages to my psychi and well being made me decide on what I was going to do…I wanted to start my life over. I wanted a fresh life, a new start, a positive beginning. I decided to myself that to do all this would take some time, but it would also be a learning adventure for me. So, I moved from my hometown, my friends, and my family….I also moved from my “diseases” that were here in my hometown. My stop was Florida…it was perfect for my plan..warm weather. My plan? To start over you have to begin from the beginning. I chose to be homeless. For 2 years I was homeless living down in Florida. That was my choice. It also made me who I am today. Strong, confident, willing to help, and mentally “richer” than I’ve ever been before. Through hard times I found Jesus…again. Except this time I haven’t strayed from his path. If you want a story, my friends, I’ve got a whopper!
Wow, Mark. I had no idea. Thank you so much for your transparency – I love hearing from your “guy’s perspective”!
He makes ALL things new and redeems everything. I love how He has done that in you – you are a beautiful encourager and you speak life-giving words to those around you (I see what you say to others on Facebook and around these parts!).
I would love to hear your story, Mark!
This just can’t be pointed out often enough. God is going to build us in our weak places, and have us outside our comfort zone. Yes He is. But for the most part, He is going to have us where the strengths and skills are going to be wisely used and bring Him glory as his purposes are achieved. Ten years ago I did the book What Color is Your Parachute? and I found that what really got me going mentally and emotionally was education. So I got back to school, did the degree, and spend my days pouring out my life into precious children. I’m not sure I would have figured this out on my own. People, use this great tool Natalie has recommended–you may be awed at where you end up.
And can I just say I’m SO thankful you DID become a teacher? My girl thinks you are IT and I’m pretty sure if I can’t get her to do something, YOU can. I’ll be calling you soon with my list of requests. :) Hee, hee – she’s a wonderful little girl but of course, like all little girls, she is starting to not always believe her mama knows best.
I remember the parachute book and how big that was – this is so similar. Have you done Strengthfinder 2.0?
Missing you but love seeing you here! Thanks for reading and commenting! And of course, so fun to see you tonight – I didn’t hear the rest of the story about your mom so I want to do so soon! Praying for her and for you!
Isn’t it awesome when God sends you what you NEED to read/hear…directly to your email :0)?
Reading this confirmed to me that I am on the “right track” as I maneuver the quickly approaching next season in my life.
I have GLADLY spent the past 21 years as a stay at home mom,raising and home educating our 4 children. They are now 14,15,18, and 20. 2 are off to college; 2 enter high school at home. Only 4 years to go and then…what??? A regular theme in both my IRL conversations AND website content!
What you said here:
“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.”
There definitely have been those moments of “What DO I accomplish, really? Laundry, clean up messes, teach kids a little,etc.???” As if that did not amount to much. NOT true…can we YELL that out loud?? :0)
It takes me back to your words:
“…you’ll be amazed at the work He’s doing with you if you take some time to really marvel at its beauty.”—which I was GLAD to Tweet and FB quote you :0).
Sometimes we need to be patient to see where out next season will bring up. These resources are GREAT and I will be utilizing them soon.
Oh and one more quote:
“I once felt HORRIBLE if I said “no” but then I began to see it was a pride thing.”
THANK you so much for your encouraging and challenging words today!
Donna, thank you so much for sharing how much this touched you. Though the glory goes to Him ALWAYS, I appreciate your encouragement – writing can be a tough world!
You might also appreciate this post regarding motherhood as a ministry: http://nataliesnapp.com/2010/11/02/a-conversation-with-god/
Donna, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m thankful for your words!