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!!
I seriously love you! I find so much wisdom in your words because you are walking a path that I have either walked before or am walking now. I realize that when I tell people I am a writer I am also quick to say that I am not published. But I realize that God called me to writing and God has the ultimate plan. What this looks like is still unfolding. I am learning to say with conviction and purpose that I am writing and not downplay it in the next sentence. You wear the purpose of building into children at Redeemer Christian school and it is where God has placed you. I am curious, though, what else God is teaching you in this season. Thanks for being you and for walking by my side as much as I love walking by yours.ReplyDelete
I know you are walking a very similar walk...I went through several periods of real uncertainly and asking what is my identity?? It's funny though how you look, and wait, and pray, and have patience, and just when you think "Hey!! I've got the answer!" God turns what you were thinking on its head. I'll be anxious to see your response to next weeks post. I love you too sweet friend and get so much encouragement from you!!
I can't wait to tune into part 2 of this story! You have nspired me to keep blogging my journey and reaching out to others to share my story. You also encourage many others by responding to their blog posts which you seem to be compassionate about. That to me has "big purpose" written all over it! I am floundering in the same way as you might suspect. Being sidelined with big health issues is keeping me in an uncomfortable place. I am in a season of searching. I am so happy to have you as my blogging friend as well as birthday buddy! Hugs my friend.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad you've started blogging!! I do love reading others' blogs, but feel badly that I don't have as much time to do so as before. Thank you for seeing purpose in that (hint- that has something to do with my next post). Being sidelined with health issues does keep you in a constant state of discomfort and floundering. I've even wrestled with God through my pain and surgeries. So blessed to call you friend!!
Blessings and an "at a girl" to keep on writing!
Yes, I am looking forward to part 2 also! I have been in these places of asking for purpose for so often! I am so thankful that God never loses sight of the purpose that HE has in mind for us! Thank you for these good words of encouragement to keep following after His Heart. --Blessings to youReplyDelete
So glad, like you said, that God never loses sight of the purpose that He has in mind for us and he gently steers us back onto the path when we/I take off down bunny trails. So good to have you here!!
So many of your insecurities are mirrored right here in this chair where I'm sitting this morning. Thanks for your frank account of this journey toward acceptance of God's unique plan for YOU!ReplyDelete
You know me...I share the grit and the grind. It truly is a journey and just when we think we have THE answer He takes us to a deeper level still!
I am so glad that I came here to read this morning. Your words are so encouraging. After blogging for 8 years, I still question what my purpose is and what I am doing. Although I haven't had the strength/time to seek out the publishing arenas, I did self-publish a devotional and hope to have another this year.Yet I still have a hard time calling myself a writer. Looking forward to reading Part 2!ReplyDelete
I have found it's not about the publishing, but about the community that my blog creates. I too, dreamed of publishing a book one day, but now I see that my blog is about a different calling.
Bev....I'll be back for part 2! On the edge of my seat, so identifying with you, just at a different stage in life : )ReplyDelete
Like I said, I've asked in every stage of life, "Lord, what is my purpose." I hope part II won't be a let down, but I don't think so. So good to have you here!!
Thank you for this, Bev -- your honesty and your story that offers hope and encouragement. Though our circumstances are different, your thoughts and emotions about being a writer exactly parallel mine. After retiring from teaching, I began writing again and dreamed of becoming a published author, totally unaware of how publishing works these days (such as all the marketing authors must generate on their own). Self-publishing seems the best route for me, but I have no idea how to begin that process or with whom. Meanwhile, I have kept a blog for over three years, and I wait to build a following. I wonder what self-publishing route to take, I pray, and I doubt that this dream was really from God like I thought it was. BUT! All along the way, He has affirmed me through friends and followers, through things I've read and heard. Here's one recent example: "Be content to be a plodding blogger and trust that God is glorifying himself and blessing his people through your faithfulness" -- Tim Challies. JUST what I needed to hear! So instead of waiting, wondering, praying and doubting, I'm waiting, wondering, praying, and plodding!! :-) Bottom line: I want to do what GOD wants me to do!ReplyDelete
I love that..."Be content to be a plodding blogger..." God does glorify Himself through your obedience. With my blog, since I have shared about my divorce and my struggles with ocd and and depression, God has enabled me to minister to other women who share these same struggles. He's allowed me to walk with them in their journeys. To me, this glorifies Him far more than a published book might?? Food for thought. Love your insights!!
Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to reading part 2. I totally relate to struggling to know what our purpose is and what God is calling us to. It seems like it can be different things at different stages in life. It's challenging when the purpose we feel called to is not easily understood by other people. I have to constantly remind myself that it is God's approval that really matters.ReplyDelete
Amen that we live our lives for an audience of One! It is so easy to get caught up in seeking the world's approval, but if God and I are good - the rest is really irrelevant.
It is at that place in life we get to slow down, a little, and begin to look introspectively at where we have come, isn't it? I tend to look introspectively at life all the time, maybe a little too much... but that is another story. I do know that the question you asked, it is one I find myself asking... what is my purpose? I took a bit of a blogging break this summer, only posting once a week and not linking up. I missed reading other people's words, the connection and the encouraging that goes along with that. I am excited to read the second part of your story. :)ReplyDelete
Like you, sometimes I ponder just a little too much. I, too, considered taking a break from blogging with all the time needed for Redeemer Christian Foundation ministry, but I knew I would really miss the sense of community found there. I think this question of What is my purpose?? resounds with a lot of women especially...I hope I can put to words what God has been speaking to me for next week. The pressure is on!
I loved reading about your journey and am looking forward to part two :) I am in that whole 'looking for the new path' phase at the moment. My daughter is coming to the end of her homeschooling and I find myself with more time on my hands. The guidance the Lord is giving me at the moment is to 'continue'. Who knew that my 'continue' would mean mostly continuing to wait! So it's one step at a time and hoping that things will become clearer in time. One thing I have learned - you can't hurry God.ReplyDelete
I have found that in my 55 year journey, there is A LOT of waiting that takes place. I think God includes that so that we build patience and learn to look forward with anticipation. In this society of "I want it right now", God teaches us just the opposite - to wait patiently on Him. No, you can't hurry God!!
Oh how your post resonates! I've wrestled with very similar feelings to what you describe here, ever since laying down my teaching job in obedience to God. I too found myself seeking purpose in my writing, something God called me to, but like you have struggled when asked what I do. I love how God has opened doors you would never have ever imagined opening when you first started writing.ReplyDelete
Lately, I've felt God leading me to share others' stories. I've been doing an interview series of people's deep valleys and book reviews. This has been humbling and has grown my heart. I'm beginning to see my purpose as being a child of God with an undivided heart of worship and praise: something that's taking a lot of refining of this proud and easily insecure and jealous heart: Psalm 86: 12 is becoming my prayer. In this prayer I'm discovering so much freedom as God closes doors that I've chased out of pride and comparison and is opening doors of service and training instead.
Thank you for being open and honest in your sharing, Bev. You are such an encouragement.
I am learning that the only thing I can expect is that God will do the unexpected!! Sometimes our dreams and visions are so narrow and God stretches our sight to look at a more panoramic view. At least that's what He's done with me. How insightful that you have seen the joy-robbers of pride and and comparison. The enemy does a good job at hiding those from our sight. I, too, am discovering more freedom as I allow God to open and close the doors instead of me jumping to do it in my own knowledge and timing. I think when we all share openly...we can be truly encouraging to one another.
This, an important post, Bev. Our purposes, our goals, our gifts may shift over time. But one thing remains the same. And it's the God that we love and serve, no matter what season we find ourselves dwelling in.ReplyDelete
I love how He's using you to make a difference around the world. You inspire us so ...
What a great Truth to cling to - that even though we may shift over time...our God is never changing and His steadfast love endures forever....no matter what season we find ourselves in. Amen!
God takes us step by step places we never imagine - and it sounds like your journey is beautifully enriching! We just need to start evaluating where we are by the world's standards. Looking forward to Part II!ReplyDelete
God's standards are so different from the world's standards. Unlike the world, God values a humble and contrite heart. If we are willing to yield to Him He CAN take us places that we never could have imagined!! God always keeps me on my toes :)Delete
Bet I've found, like you, my purpose has changed over the years. I am so glad I visited this morning because your story has blessed me. I think the longer we walk with God, the more our purpose changes. I know mine has the more I'm in the Bible and the more I listen and take leaps to do what I feel like He is calling me to do.ReplyDelete
I'm not published either and may never be, but I know my purpose right now is to show Him to others thru the words I write. Sometimes I feel inadequate doing it, but I keep trudging along hoping to show Him to someone in a post, to leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren to look back here someday and see what this crazy woman was thinking.
No matter our purpose today as long as it glorifies Him that is all that matters. I love all your purposes as you've walked thru life and I bet our Father does too.
Can't wait to read Part 2.
So true that the longer we walk with God, the more our purpose changes. I am not a risk taker, so to be doing what I'm doing is a result of God growing me until I was brave enough to hold His hand and take a giant leap of faith. Sometimes it's baby steps forward...other times leaps and bounds.
So glad you are persevering in your writing...you just never know who you will touch at just the right time. God can certainly use the Holy Spirit in you to witness to and encourage others along this journey called "life".
Yes, what an awesome legacy you are leaving to your children and grandchildren. I keep hard copies too so that my grandchildren may one day peek into this crazy woman's mind lol.
Joining with you in seeking God's purpose...thanks for sharing!!
Beautiful. I wish I've read this when I was in my 20's and desperate to find out what my purpose is. Still, I get lost now. I get easily distracted. But I always run back to Him. :)ReplyDelete
I believe we all get lost along the way...I know I have!! You said, though, what the best thing is - to keep running back to Him. I hope you'll come back for part II!