This is part 2 of a 3-part series on Purpose. Read part 1 here.
I used to think pursuing my purpose had a lot to do with what I was doing with my life— my job description, accolades, accomplishments, and credentials. Now I know it has a lot more to do with actively pursuing a wholehearted life, one of alignment, integrity, purpose, and joy.
To live a life of purpose is to become the person God created you to be. Discovering our purpose is a journey. Not something we arrive at, but an evolution. It takes time, trial and error, mistakes, missteps, and perseverance. As we mature, our understanding of purpose does, too—and there’s grace in the pursuit of it.
God, our Creator, is the source of our purpose, He gives us wisdom, starting with an ache in our hearts for something more. Purpose has less to do with a vocation and more with the underlying reason you’re on this Earth. To pursue your purpose is to pursue your life intentionally.
Purpose is the heart posture from which we operate. It bleeds into everything we do, everyone we meet, where we spend our money, invest our time, and pass our days. If it isn’t clearly defined, we operate aimlessly without direction or intention. The results we get are haphazard and random. They leave us feeling lost or listless.
When we strip away what doesn’t matter and bring light into what does, an awakening happens. Suddenly, life’s in focus. We no longer say yes to the things we dread or spend time where we aren’t valued.
It also brings us closer to our true selves. This happens when we examine what it is that breaks our hearts, infuriates us, or even where we carry misplaced shame.
A purposeful life goes hand in hand with a wholehearted one. To embrace wholehearted living, let’s look at both sides of the coin: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and every one of your days was ordained by God before you came to be. You are not only worthy of a life of purpose but also precisely equipped for it. Not in spite of your shortcomings, but because of them.
Let me say that again: The things you hate about yourself are as essential to living a life of purpose as the things you love. You can’t step into your purpose without bringing your whole self with you.
Oftentimes, we celebrate our gifts while we try to hide our flaws. We want to use our talents, abilities, and other things that come naturally to us while keeping our failures, disabilities, and perceived “defects” in the dark.
However, what if we not only bring those things to light but also celebrate them? What if we learn from them? Connect with others because of them?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9
Shortcomings are reminders that we need God. They humble us, teach us, and connect us. Our “imperfections” and differences are what make us relatable. Vulnerability implies risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure.
But it also allows us to show up as our full selves, to experience the entire range of human emotions, and paves the way towards the things we crave most: love, belonging, creativity, trust, and joy.
Why am I discussing imperfections when we are supposed to be talking about purpose? Because a purposeful life is a wholehearted one, one where you are fully seen, known, and loved. It’s when you’re alive and experiencing the life God has ordained for you. Living a purposeful life stems from living an authentic life.
Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. Embracing deep-seated shame or insecurities is no easy feat,
but it’s an essential one that starts by being honest with yourself—and when you’re ready, others.
I’ve found therapy and safe friendships to be my starting place. And let me tell you, bringing these things to light not only takes a weight off your shoulders and creates bonds between friends, but it also takes your power back from the enemy who would much rather you live your life in the shadows staying small, scared, and silent.
So, how do we become brave enough to be whole?
Start by taking a gentle assessment of yourself.
If there’s any part of who you are that brings you shame, try to identify where that voice of shame comes from: Whose voice is this?
You might find that it’s your mom or dad’s voice, your ex-boyfriend or ex-friend’s voice. Or, maybe it’s the voice of your anxiety. Try to separate “that” voice from your own so you can begin to recognize it.
A good way to start recognizing your own voice is to practice speaking to yourself. Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a small child. Imagine that small child sitting in the corner, under the weight of fear and shame.
Speak encouragingly to them and affirm their worth. What would you tell them?
Write these affirmations down and tape them to your mirror or desk. Speak them out to yourself as often as possible to rewire your thoughts around shame.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
— Romans 12:2 NIV
If there’s a failure, mistake, or regret that haunts you, sit with that for a moment. Allow yourself to feel the weight that comes from revisiting it. Now, write a letter to your younger self. Reflect on where she was when she made that decision.
Give her grace for what she knew to be true at the time. Acknowledge how much she’s learned and grown since then. Sometimes, the experiences that hurt the most are the ones that mature and sharpen us, ultimately shaping us into the people we are meant to be. Instead of adversity haunting us, we can choose to be grateful for it.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
— James 1:2-4 NIV
If there’s something about you that you can’t change but wish was different, like a disability or physical attribute, bring it to the surface. Share your feelings with someone you trust.
Chances are your openness will fuel theirs, and they will feel safe confiding in you as well. This safe space not only creates a foundation of trust between friends, but empowers you to own your story and see the value in sharing it.
This is how we begin to step into our truest selves. When we look at the sum of our parts, acknowledge our growth and the hurdles we’ve overcome, and exchange shame, guilt, and fear for grace, honesty, and openness. That’s where we trade our weakness for God’s strength, isolation for community, shallowness for depth.
“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 MSG
When we get to the point of truly resting in and appreciating who God created us to be, nothing can stop us. It’s from that place that we can truly begin to walk out our purpose in a meaningful, holistic way.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of How to Pursue Your Purpose — embracing your calling and sharing your gifts with the world.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’” — Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
© Jennifer Lynn Callahan 2022. All rights reserved.