Wake up. Go to work. Eat. Sleep. Work. Eat. Sleep. Family. Eat. Sleep. Friends. Work. Eat. Sleep. Church. Eat. Sleep. Work. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
That was my life. Stale. Purposeless. There.
Don’t get me wrong. Life wasn’t always like that. I had moments when life was great: birthday celebrations, social interactions, vacations or church functions. Did you know you can in fact be a church goer and live life unfulfilled? Take my word, you can. You may even know a few. All of those things were great for momentarily helping me forget about the plateau I felt stranded on. They wouldn’t, however, solve my problem of feeling like something in my life was missing. A lyric I heard described how I felt perfectly, “I was breathing, but not alive.” Not exactly the words I wanted to use describing the insides of my soul, but they were accurate.
I was raised in church, so I knew how I was going to approach this thing. Pray. Just like any good Christian would. “God, please help me.” “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” These were the questions and prayers I began having with God. I had reached my point of desperation and needed help desperately. Because of the significance of what I was praying for, you know, my life’s purpose and all, I was confident God would be quick to answer. I’m sure God loves when I put him on a time table and reduce him down to a formulaic-miracle-dispenser. This was one of the biggest answers I would ever need, so surely God would be glad I was asking for help. Regardless of my audacious state of mind, I began to ask God to help me figure it all out. My longing inside this unsatisfying existence wouldn’t relent, so I was hopeful that my newfound upward gaze would get me out of this funk asap.
Days went by. Then weeks without a response. Several months, then a lot of months go by. Eventually, years go by without an answer. I have a vivid memory during that time of writing “there’s got to be more to life than this” in my journal. I remember it so well because of how sad and lost I felt when I wrote it. Even to this day, I can still remember that heavy, unsettling feeling. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. As you can imagine, at that point in my journey any hope that had once driven me was gone. The desperation that fueled any motivation I had ceased to exist.
I interpreted his silence as a lack of interest. I couldn’t understand why giving me the answer to a question that caused me so much pain was being held back from me. Why wouldn’t he want to help me? I felt rejected and confused. I began to resent God and his lack of participation in my prayer. A prayer where if I got an answer, I would be doing what he wanted in the first place. I had enough, and reached the conclusion that I must not have any purpose at all. There were some people who just didn’t have one, right? To, you know, keep everything balanced. I thought my “God-window-of-opportunity” was closed. Throughout a very long season where all I could do was wait, I became very frustrated and eventually complacent. If God was going to turn his back to me, I was certainly going to turn mine to him. Living in a limbo of uncertainty sure seemed like a better option than to live life being constantly ignored. Rationalizing is a funny thing. So, I stopped talking to God altogether.
Years pass by living this way, and I’m not gonna lie, it was fun for awhile. Staying out late, hanging out with the wrong people, and all the things that come with that. Living that way, however, was not without its consequences. In addition to putting a delay on what God wanted to do in my life, I ended up back on that familiar path of feeling like something in my life was missing. I think deep down I knew what I needed to do, but it was a matter of getting to a place where I was willing to do the things necessary to make a change. I finally gave up control and gave it to God. Doing things my way wasn’t working and that missing piece I tried to ignore clearly would never let me go. I tried everything I could try and still came up empty. So it was time. It was time to do things God’s way. Sadly, it was the one thing I had yet to try.
I know now that I expected an answer from God without truly having a relationship with him. That is a sure-fire guarantee to keep God’s purpose for your life outside of your grasp. Sure, I considered myself a Christian, but to what end? Just because I grew up in church, and happened to know things about Jesus? The devil knows things about Jesus too. What I’m saying is our relationship with Jesus isn’t established on factual knowledge. I may know tons of facts about Julia Roberts, but that doesn’t mean I know her on a personal level. I only know things about her. It was 100% the same way with me and God. My prayers were always about getting something I wanted and my bible was usually somewhere under a pile of dust. Basically, my relationship only existed when I wanted to benefit from it in some way.
Life now is very different than it was those years ago. The one sided relationship I once had, I can’t imagine having today. I couldn’t of imagined giving away my control was the thing that gave me a grasp on what’s real. God’s ways are set up to give us life and his ways do exactly that. My life is full and purposeful. I’m not rich by any means, but I am rich in my soul. It doesn’t mean my life is perfect, but the purpose I’ve been given satisfies any thing I ever longed for. In that most aching of seasons, I learned two very important steps along the way, steps I wish I would’ve known about back then. I’m hopeful and confident though that they can help others through any “God why am I here?”, seasons:
1. follow God’s ways
I think we tend to make this area of our relationship with God way more complicated than it needs to be. We should follow after God in as many ways as possible, ways that help you hear God and feel close to Him. I encourage you to start with these four: Go to church, pray, read your bible and get into community. Do them “enough” where you see your life changing consistently (not quickly), for the good and you feel God’s presence in your life more and more. Then keep doing it. One of my favorite passages in the bible is Matthew 7:15-20 where it talks about a tree and it’s fruit. “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” (v.15). We don’t have to be perfect, but when we follow God’s ways, we’re going to have good fruit. There’s nothing worse than someone who claims they’re a Christian, but bears bad fruit. We can’t pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles anymore than we can purposely live our lives away from God’s intentions for us. We are mistaken if we live without God at the forefront, yet expect him to be “on call” when we ask him to answer our prayers. Healthy relationships are built on reciprocity, not entitlement.
2. do everything, faithfully, unto the lord
No matter what it is you do for a living, do it unto the Lord. Whether it’s a part-time job, being a student in high-school or college, playing sports, raising kids as a stay at home mama (SAHMs unite!), an entrepreneur, or unemployed—live your life doing everything the best that you can. Colossians 3:23 in the Amplified says “Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men.” The NKJ version says to do it, “heartily”. The Passion translation says to, “put your heart and soul into every activity you do.” Start being faithful right now with whatever you’re doing, wherever you are. Don’t wait and become faithful when you get to where you want to be. Now is the time. You may be looking forward to the thing you have your heart set on before you decide to give it your all. You can’t wait for that. Instead of living life like everything is a means to an end until you get that thing you want, I encourage you to do the best you can with what you have during this time. God will take you to the next step when he says it’s time. Meanwhile, remain faithful.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s struggled with wanting an answer to the behemoth “Why am I here?” type question. I mean, it’s the question of all questions, both for believers and unbelievers. I’ve learned getting a specific answer to that question is not one that comes quickly, despite how much we want it to. If you’ve ever felt stuck in the same frustrated state, consider it a good thing. God is trying to get your attention. He knows the plans he has for you, which are superior to anything we can dream of on our own. He wants to lead you down the path where he can share plans with you. After we take that first step, we’ll still may have unanswered questions and that is okay, keep going. God wants us trust him, especially in the unanswered. I know the heartache of waiting for answers we feel are never going to come, but sometimes God allows us to experience difficult seasons so we have no other option than to draw close to Him. Even if we are faithless, he will remain faithful. (II Tim. 2:13). You can rest in your heart knowing you can trust him.
Forgive me for editing the words of a literary giant, but here’s my version of a Mark Twain quote: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born (again), and the day you find out why.” It’s hard being stuck in a season not knowing what you were created for, but to find out, we have to continue bravely through difficult seasons. What God will provide through it, and on the other side, is priceless. To find out His will for our lives, steps like these are necessary.
Even though it took me years of heartache to realize how vital each of these steps were, and as odd as it sounds, it was worth it. Now I’m able to share what I’ve learned, and hopefully encourage someone who can relate. There’s nothing like being able to connect with someone who knows exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes, and sometimes the path isn’t easy. It’s a prime example of God taking what was meant to harm us and using it for good. God knows what we need in each season of our lives, and he’s faithful to provide. Stay steadfast to his ways and watch God transform you. Maybe part of our transformation shifts our focus from choosing his will to his presence. Crazier things have happened.
We journey on . . .
Kylene Lautensack, colorfullbloom.com.