How would you answer this question: What do you want to be remembered for? Did I get your attention, because it always gets mine. Few questions make me tremble as much as this one. To respond I have to imagine the future but also reference the present – what I do today will impact the legacy I create. I think that is why so many people make new years’ resolutions. We see our flaws, our inconsistencies, our shortcomings and recognize the need to change; the need to improve the future version of ourselves. My daughter’s resolution is to create more snow flake decorations in 2017 than 2016. My thoughts of a new year’s resolution are more complicated. But it is hard to zero in on that one thing when there is so much we are involved in. That is always my struggle, which is why I create themes that provide broader opportunities for me to focus. Some people call it their yearly word. For 2017 I’m focusing on Purpose.
Recently a friend of mine told me I tend to look so intently at the big picture that I miss the little areas of progress. I never saw myself as a control-freak and most people would never describe me that way but I do tend to approach things from a macro perspective. Honestly I think it’s because I want to make sure I’m making all the right moves. It helps me at work but not so much in life. It leads to many frustrations. The fear of missing out on something is probably the biggest catalyst. I think that is why I need to focus on Purpose more than ever.
In the last few years I experienced some of the deepest growth by going through a mixture of joy and pain. I can smile when I think of my 13 years of marriage, the small group we hosted in our home and the opportunity to officiate our friends wedding. But the gut wrenching feeling is real when I recall relationships that didn’t work out or simply faded despite our desire for more. The balance of these feelings provide perspective and meaning to my life. Between the good and the bad, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I learned more about myself and God through it all. If anything, I want to recognize the little moments more and be fully in.
These feelings make me think of Joseph. In the Old Testament Joseph is described as a dreamer who envisions himself leading his family and the nations. His brothers despised him and in an act of anger and jealousy they sell him as a slave while telling their father he was killed by wild animals. The moral of the story is that God is in control and his purpose will be fulfilled. We see this when Joseph ascends to power in Egypt, is reunited with his family and helps the nations survive a period of famine. This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible and there is one passage that always catches my attention. In Genesis 50:20, when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he says:
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
While my story is not as complex as the life of Joseph I think we all experience moments where our plans seem small and fall to a greater power. Ultimately I don’t think it mattered how Joseph fulfilled his purpose, just as long it was honorable to God. I think that is the same with us. God cares more about our purpose than He does about our plans. Plans are more personal and tend to be self-serving. A purpose is greater than us; our desires, our needs and out wants. A purpose tends to look out for others first. To understand the impact of our actions and fulfill it with intentionality that recognizes each moment.
If 2016 was a year where I found comfort in my voice, I want 2017 to be the year where I speak with more confidence in the purpose I have.