People stay in places for all the wrong reasons. People settle. People rationalise their fear-fuelled decisions by factoring in things like earnings and comfortability (familiar places, faces spaces and routines).
Money can weigh you down. The fear of unemployment or not enough money can lead people to forsake their dreams and even numb their ability to dream. Needing to maintain an already “established” lifestyle can make you debilitatingly cautious. Our fears can make those who take incredible and awe-inspiring risks to see their dreams come true seem un-human or “special”, as though they were endowed with some special ability by God that is not available to others. And the more we remain in places that no longer serve us, the more that this fallacy is solidified in our minds and we start to believe that it is not in fact fear that is holding us back, but fate. We start to believe that our destiny is to be mediocre and to live the lives that the hand of fate has dealt us, as unsatisfying and soul-crushing as those routines and pursuits may be. We simply refuse to believe that those that are living on what seems like the edge and going about accomplishing great feats do so in spite of fear. Because no human is immune to fear and THAT is the truth.
This year has for me, been marked by an increased desire to live on the proverbial edge. I am no longer at ease with performing routines and duties that do not feed my soul or affirm my life’s purpose. To be sure, I don’t know what my life’s purpose is. It’s what I have been praying about a lot: that God would reveal to me at this mid-life juncture, what pursuits & exploits I should be undertaking in order to fill that gaping hole inside of me that I call purpose. It’s actually a question that’s been with me for very many years, dating back to my teenage-hood. My thoughts were consistently characterised by the fear that I would grow up and not do what I was “born to do” because, quite honestly, I just wasn’t one of those people that just knew what they wanted to do or be when they grew up. I lacked that conviction. That certainty. And I have always been a stickler for order and so not knowing how a thing as important as my adult future would pan out or look like bothered me deeply. At times the fear was acute and at others, dull and lurking somewhere in the background, but always there.
Given my lack of ‘knowing’, I have always been amazed at and envious of people who have, from a very young age, known what it is that they want to do and achieve with their lives. It is true that many of these people ‘self-task’. That is, they give themselves a life’s purpose and mission, and there are myriad reasons why they do this. I think that even pursuing life ‘routinely’ is self-tasking. We adopt the standards and practices of the world and conform ourselves and our lives’ pursuits to them. Doing such things, things that one is expected to do such as (prolonged) schooling, being a job-seeker, entering the world of work and somewhat ‘purposelessly’ working for years, conducting (often dead-end) relationships and basically just ‘going about life’ doing the things that are “normal” or expected is what for me pushed that uncomfortable and unsettling fear far back or deep down into my subconscious so that I “got by”. Unfortunately, if I’m honest, the truth is that these things I was and have been so busy with hold a false sense of significance. No doubt that they are important; but they are meaningless if not conducted within the grander scheme of purpose or vision.
I believe that I am a creation and that the Creator had, at my creation, great and grand purposes and plans for my life. That is what I am hungry to discover. I often say that I wish God would just deposit in and download onto me the whole blueprint for my life, all at once. Then I could confidently live the rest of my days going about fulfilling that blueprint. But it doesn’t work like that. Appositely, I have also come to the realisation that many of the things I have done (even though then mindlessly) and achieved were not all meaningless or random acts of self-tasking or merely conforming to worldly practices. Looking back, I see now how so many of those things have in fact worked in my favour, made me the head and not the tail and altogether worked for my good. That is one of the great mysteries of life I guess and God’s role in daily, from birth, directing our footsteps to lead us to a desirable and good final outcome. He doesn’t have to tell you that any particular season or circumstance you go through is part of His grand plan for your life and you may not feel that you are acting within the bounds of His purpose for you or even towards it at any given point in time, but you are. However, having said that, it is also good to be awakened to the heart or soul’s longing for meaning and purpose in life and to actively seek it out. A life lived thoughtlessly and without purposeful intention, a life of routine and conforming to so-called expectations is no way to live.
In all this, my greatest fear is “How will I know?” How will I know that I am on the right track? That and “Can I trust God to really step in and begin to visibly direct my steps in the way that He would have me go?” Also, do I have what it takes to see and sense His signs and respond accordingly? For instance, I can say that I want a new job, a complete change of field of work or to relocate. That’s what I THINK I want in this season of expectation. But I have done enough of life to know that my desires change seasonally, through no fault of my own. I am, as we all are, always growing and evolving and I simply outgrow certain desires or I achieve something and the desire is satiated. There are certain things, which just 18 months ago, I literally cried for, day in and day out, that I no longer desire and for which I am so grateful to actually not have. I am talking things whose absence in my life induced such great and deep sorrow; things I so longed for and the lack of which made me threaten to break up with God because, hey, I know that nothing is impossible for Him, so I felt majorly slighted. Today, the mere thought of some of those things actually grates me. And so thank God that he doesn’t go by our passing whims. So given my track record then, I am no reliable guide for the kind of newness and purpose I am seeking in this current season.
I believe that purpose overrides seasons and I also believe that purpose is seasonal. We are called to pursue different purposes at different points in our lives but there are also some mantles and raison d’êtres that are lifelong. I guess I am searching for the latter; that one overarching, life-defining purpose. But as I write this, again it comes to mind that life isn’t one homogeneous arc and so very few people will have just one defining purpose for their life (unless you’re Jesus, LOL). Life is kaleidoscopic and it can change in a split second. So perhaps the thing I am seeking isn’t necessarily to know what my grand purpose in life is, but rather to always be dead centre and firmly rooted in God’s will for my life at any given point in time.
Be that as it may, right now, I am still hungry for change in my life and I have some pretty wild dreams (post for another day) and desires that I believe would make me feel more alive. There is a feeling one gets when they’re standing at liminal places; it’s a mix of adrenaline, fear and hope. I often feel this way before a solo overseas travel adventure. As the days careen towards departure date, I have distressing dreams of what bad or unpleasant things could befall me in the new land. I toss and turn, filled with anxiety, wondering what possible eventualities I may have forgotten to plan for. I feel sick to my stomach and start to wonder why I even planned the trip, periodically asking myself who I think I am to even think of undertaking such a voyage alone. But during the day, I have several moments of sheer joy and disbelief that I will soon actually be doing all the things I have planned for the trip; exhilarating things and awe-inspiring sights that I have seen others do and go to and read them spiritedly share about. It’s the same for people who undertake great business ventures, leaving behind stable employment. I think that this is the heady rush of living on the edge. This is what ‘feeling alive’ is and that is what I am seeking. It’s a feeling we all get when we stand on the edge of greatness and forgo fear and do the thing anyway. I don’t know that life can be lived like that everyday though but I do know that we ought to experience those moments more often than not. I also think that that feeling can be addictive and thus people can throw themselves into no doubt exciting and ‘risky’ pursuits but only because they’re chasing the thrill and they never come out quite fulfilled or satisfied on the other side of those pursuits. My desire is to have that feeling within the context of doing and living life purposefully and fully. Apart from forsaking fear, I want to start dreaming and feeling sure of and confident in the validity of those dreams because I know they’re from God.
A penny for your thoughts.
You can also find me at twitter.com/honeybmissg.