How can I find a feeling of purpose?
Q: How can I find a feeling of purpose when nothing’s going on?
A: I understand the way you’re feeling. Once, I was visiting family on a farm in South Africa—far away from home. It was beautiful there, but I started to feel adrift after a couple weeks, because I just wasn’t sure what else to do besides walk around the farm. I tried helping out with some of the day-to-day work, but it was clear I wasn’t really needed. I wanted to feel valuable and purposeful, but I just wasn’t getting that.
One thing I was able to do during this time was a project I’d created for myself, which involved reading through all of Mary Baker Eddy’s published writings other than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. As I read, I came across this passage: “As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165). This really struck me, because I saw that the capacity to be of service—to be and do good—wasn’t tied to any outward circumstances. Instead, good is the core of what each of us really is as God’s image and likeness.
As I continued to pray about my purpose during this trip, I realized I could stop trying so hard to create purpose for myself. I also didn’t have to ask God to give me purpose. All I needed to do was open my eyes to the opportunities “to impart truth, health, and happiness” that had already been given to me. I knew these opportunities had to be present, because if God created us to be and do good, then our goodness must always be useful and needed—in some way and wherever we are. The goodness and the opportunity to express that goodness go hand in hand.
As I prayed this way, it occurred to me that instead of going back to my cousin or uncle—the managers and owners of the farm—to try and find something to do, I could ask my aunt. She knew of my love for horses and immediately connected me with a local instructor who was teaching horseback riding to children with developmental disabilities. This turned out to be a perfect fit for all of us. I was able to be of real service as a helper, walking with the children as they learned to ride. And I was so blessed to feel their love, expressed in their smiles and in gratitude for their progress.
My purpose was already divinely established, and with that purpose came the avenues to express it.
This experience helped me see that my purpose was already divinely established—was mine always, regardless of circumstances—and that with that purpose came the avenues to express it. The turning point came when I stopped hoping for an opportunity “someday” and instead listened to God to be guided to the opportunity that I had already been given and that was already present.
The existence of our innate purpose doesn’t have anything to do with what is or isn’t going on around us. Instead, an awareness of our God-given purpose allows us to see all the ways we can show how good God is—right here, right now. As an individualized expression of divine good, your purpose is certainly included in who you are. And no matter where you are or what’s going on in the world, God will show you how you can live that today.
Originally appeared online in the teen series: Q&A - April 22, 2020