When you are young and life is throwing some pretty crummy stuff your way, you often find yourself wondering why? You ask why me? Why does my life stink so badly? What is God's purpose in all of this? Why can't I be like those who seem so happy and carefree and who have very few worries in their lives?
Growing up wasn't easy for me. In fact, it was hellish - I don't mean that in a swearing kind of way, I mean it was as if I was living in HELL. Through a series of misfortunes, I had very low self-esteem. But I was also a "fixer" of problems if you will. Being the oldest in my family and with Dad being dead, it meant a lot fell on my shoulders to help my mom out. And even when I couldn't fix the problems, I felt as if I should have been able to do something about them.
During college this all really came to a head for me. I remember watching my classmates and I yearned to have a normal life. I life with two parents who took care of me, who gave me a car. I yearned for my biggest problem to be about making good grades and having a date on the weekend. I wanted it so badly. I was broken, scarred and felt as if I were a monster trapped in a cruel glass cage - doomed to watch others live a happy existence while I was trapped, taking care of my family and cleaning up other people's messes. Even then, the broken seemed to gravitate towards me. I don't think it is a coincidence that God placed other people in my life - fellow college students in my path who shared a broken past, broken heart, and a mending soul.
I realize all of this now - but then I wondered so many things - why did my childhood stink so badly. Why was I made fun of constantly in school? I didn't understand and I wouldn't for several more years, but in 1999 while living in Catania, Sicily for a year, I got the time I needed. I developed a routine. I would go for a walk every day during Riposo (think Spanish culture's siesta time - it's a lot like that from 2 - 4 p.m. every day) down to the beach (a 30 minute walk) and I had a special area where I would sit quietly on a cliff and read my Bible and spend time in prayer. I don't know when exactly - there is no one certain date when I realized it happened, but I found healing for my bleeding and wounded heart and psyche. I found out a bit about who God wanted me to be. I also began to realize I had a talent for writing while there. I began to realize that I liked who I was - although I didn't like the past I had been given, I began to make peace with it.
Fast forward to 2005 and our daughter, Sarah came to live with us. I had been reading A Purpose Driven Life a year or so before, but until Sarah came, I wasn't fully sure what God had planned for me. I still didn't completely understand why my past was my past. As I grew to know Sarah and love her even more, I realized that God's purpose for allowing me to walk the road I did growing up was so I could understand Sarah and where she came from. His purpose for me was to show empathy and compassion to those who are suffering from brokenness and offer them hope that it isn't lost. He gave me an understand of people and the ability to see things from an often very different perspective. As I grow older I realize that while it hurt like crazy to live my childhood, I wouldn't trade it for the world.
It allows me to understand the girl or boy who is being bullied? Or the child who is never allowed to forget their mistakes? With the pain I went through I can understand (most of the time) the anguish that comes from an abusive stepparent. While I would never wish my life on anyone else, I am content in the knowledge that it was meant to be put to God's purpose and plan. I just hope and pray that I live up to the potential He sees in me so someday I can hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
If you are struggling to figure out your purpose these days - don't give up. Sometimes God has us wait for a very good reason. It may make us a little nuts to wait, but I find when I wait in the Lord, that it is much better than rushing towards my own goals and desires. I also find that God doesn't give you a desire for something unless it is a part of His purpose and plan for you.
I hope you all have a good week.
Love in Christ,