Today I shuffled my way across Hillsdale’s frozen campus. There’s something about a slow-paced shuffle that’s almost inspirational, that is, if you can get past the annoyance of tiny, tedious steps and the fear of slipping. It took me twice as long to get places, so I had twice as long to think about things, and as my brain often does, it wanders and gets excited about new thoughts and ideas, hence my slippery — yet inspiring — walk.
I was walking to our indoor track to do some recovery things and talk with my coach when I started thinking about the terrible weather and how other schools would be closed and I got a little upset at this “unfairness.” That thought didn’t stick around for long, though. I quickly started thinking about track and how I was excited to be running the 800 now and I felt like I was really doing something my body was made for. I started to think about journalism and how I love my classes. I enjoy writing and being a part of our school newspaper’s staff because it’s something I’m good at and find purpose in.
And pretty soon I started thinking how other people live grander lives. I thought of the girls who wear fancy clothes to class and the young women I see starting business and sipping from their “boss lady” coffee mugs. I was wearing sweatpants and having a bad hair day, and I woke up with red bumps under my eyes from wearing my mascara to bed so today had to be a no makeup kind of day. I was definitely not a “boss lady.”
But it’s whatever.
I don’t write that with a sassy, no-care-in-the-world attitude. I write that because I heard the gentle whisper of God calm my escalating feelings of insecurity because of comparison. He’s getting much quicker at fixing that in me, and maybe I’m getting better at cooperating. He reminded me that those “boss ladies” are living their own lives and I am living mine. People have been living their own lives for thousands of years and to some extent, we’re all kinda doing the same thing: trying to make the best of things. And my best is not the same as anyone else’s.
But why should we bother trying to live our best lives? We don’t remember a majority of the people who lived even a 100 years ago, anyways. Why should I try so hard if in a 100 years I’m going to be just another forgotten person who gave it my best? Our lives are (in light of eternity) quite short and in some ways insignificant.
I say insignificant because on our own, our lives really do lack meaning. We learn that from Solomon and Job in the Bible. Solomon had everything and felt no purpose. Job lost everything but still found purpose to press on because of God. We can fill our lives with whatever we want, do whatever we want, and be whatever we want, but I believe that without God and a greater purpose we will be missing out on an entirely other level of significance. Without God, our lives are filled with whateverness.
The people we remember are the ones that lived with a fire in them, the ones who lived with a burning passion and purpose. I think about my mom whose passion for what she does annoyed me as a 12-year-old girl who didn’t understand why her hours on the phone every day were so important to her. Today, I understand it and I am so proud of her. I admire the passion she had — and still has — to help people live better, healthier lives. She may not be remembered famously by millions of people, but she will certainly be remembered by the people across the country whose lives she’s changed.
And where does her purpose come from? It comes from her love for the Lord who has instilled in her a love for others. Her life is filled with purpose, not whateverness.
I can honestly say I go to bed every night excited to wake up the next morning. I can also honestly say that I did not feel that way last year. I let comparison separate my self-worth from my God and my life was filled with whateverness. When it came to track, I dreaded the 60m hurdles because I didn’t find the success I wanted. This year, I approach that hurdle race with more confidence knowing that it’s all preparation for the thing I am good at: the 400 meter hurdles.
God has given us all talents, skills, and passions. Those three things combine to form our purposes in life. When your purpose is in line with the equipment God has given you, your life will not feel insignificant. You will not walk through life with an attitude of “whatever.” Instead, you will walk through life excited, motivated, and ready to tackle anything.
I can’t promise you’ll feel excited every day, but I can promise you that when you hold on to God’s truth and guidance, when you lack excitement, you will still find joy if you seek it.