I was in my mid forties when I began to ask (or re-ask) the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up? What is my purpose in life?" Up until that time I had learned to take pride in my role as a full-time mom. Wise mentors helped me to see that being a mother is truly a high calling in God's eyes. I learned to hold my head up and say, "I work out of the home - I'm a full time mom!" I felt a sense of purpose and calling and direction.
Some days that calling was not so glamorous - like changing dirty diapers and washing load after load of laundry. I didn't earn any "Employee of the Month" awards for cleaning up puke, but I knew deep down inside that I was doing something important.
When my oldest graduated from high school, I was immediately hit with the question, "So, when are you going back to work??" My hesitation said it all...I didn't have a clue what I was doing. My youngest was still in Middle School so for awhile I could get by with the explanation that I was still at home because the Middle School years are crucial years as our children experiment with self governing. I wanted to be there when my son got home from school. I wasn't comfortable letting him just be on his own. He was a follower and I was afraid of the paths he might follow.
With few up to date business skills and little to no professional working clothes, there weren't too many companies lined up waiting to hire me. I always loved working with children in Sunday school so I proudly put on my new role as Preschool Teacher (in a Christian Preschool where I would be shaping the next generation of disciples and leaders). Okay, it wasn't President, but at least I had a "Title". This must be my purpose I thought.
I was a pretty darned good teacher (or so I was told). I had arms and a lap that preschoolers loved to crawl into. That was until I was sidelined by two complicated and debilitating surgeries. I remember so clearly sitting with my knee propped up in the recliner (I was not allowed to put any weight on my knee at all for 4-6 weeks). As I was about to climb the walls, I remember asking God, "So, God...what am I supposed to do now? What is my purpose?"
I had always loved writing and I heard God whispering to me..."Return to your first love." While I couldn't walk, my blog was born. Success did not come instantaneously. There were many times that I wondered what on earth I was trying to prove?? Was this my calling? Was this my purpose? I wasn't sure but I was trying to find my purpose...what I was supposed to be when I grew up.
When people asked me what I did, I gave them my prepared speech of "Complex surgeries had sidelined me from teaching so now I was a writer/blogger."
"So what have you published?" they would ask. Ummm....my own blog. The answer sounded unimpressive. I felt unimpressive. I continued writing, watching the job postings, realizing I'd have to go back to school to get up to speed to re-enter the business/professional world. I floundered for several years. My blog grew in popularity, but I knew I wasn't one of the elite bloggers. I was average to good and I sincerely doubted I'd ever be published. I spent a lot of time waiting, wondering, praying, and doubting to be honest. Just what did God have in store for me??
What is my purpose, Lord? What am I supposed to be when I grow up??
About that time, God ordained that my path would cross with a young Christian man (about my son's age) in the Middle East. He began asking me questions about what I would write in my blog. I'm embarrassed to admit that if you had asked me to label all the countries in the Middle East on a map, I might have been hard pressed to do it accurately. I really knew nothing about this part of the world, except most the people in these countries were practicing Muslims (a faith far different than my own).
In the next few years, I helped this young man take his vision and dream of a Christian School in this country in the Middle East from a handful of children in a home school to 44 full time students. Together, we were transforming lives through Christian education - giving the impoverished, the orphaned, the oppressed, and those persecuted for their faith an opportunity to receive an education and to come to know their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We were feeding, clothing, educating, and loving on the poorest of the poor. We had a waiting list a mile long and I became impassioned with finding sponsors for these children.
I walked through the incorporation process (legalese to the max), applied for and was approved for 501c3 non-profit status, established a Board of Directors, I wrote bylaws and mission statements, developed public relations materials.
At last I felt like I was in the sweet spot - working in God's strength to achieve something that builds His Kingdom and meanwhile I gave Him the glory. This must be my purpose at LAST!!!
This was my purpose...this was what I was finally meant to do...
After all, I had a business card (with logo) that said Beverly Rihtarchik, President and Founder, Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
When people asked me what I did, I could tell them and once again I felt that sense of pride as when I used to answer "I'm a full time mom."
That was until people starting asking what I got paid....Ummm.....well nothing actually, but "The eternal benefits are awesome," I would jokingly tell people.
The clincher came when my husband's sweet Aunt asked when could we come for a visit? When could my husband get off from work since he had an important job with the bank and I currently wasn't working....Ouch!
Just when I thought I'd reached the "pinnacle of purpose", God was calling me to re-evaluate again. What He was about to reveal would really revolutionize my way of thinking...He was going to blow my socks off again (He's like that you know).
I'm normally not big on the 2 Part series posts...but I have rambled on for quite some time. I invite you back next week for Part II of "What Is My Purpose" when I will share just what God laid on my heart...(cue music to fade)...
$15/Month is all it takes...Will you help us change the world one child at a time??
WE NEED YOU!!