What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; Beauty from ashes – You’ve heard all the clichés. Throughout my life, I’ve always had a sense that there’s more and that these clichés are actually true. I am the person I am today because of the circumstances of my life, right?
While I believe this is true, I’m now convinced there’s more. There are more than just ashes supernaturally making my difficult circumstances beautiful. This is both good news and problematic. Good news because it says my pain is worth something – that there is a purpose that is good. Problematic because it requires something of me, something that is difficult and brave and deeply uncomfortable. ”I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” says Paul in Romans 8:18. The operative word here is in us. Glory is revealed in me? Yes, but only when I compare it to my present sufferings – which requires me to look at them—and a hard look at them with Jesus at my side, nudging me with the hope that glorious purpose can be birthed.
This means that when I feel the unease of God’s hand gently pressing something specific on me, I embrace it and linger in it, holding it in my hands delicately, like a newborn. It requires me to turn away from distractions – a glass of wine, another humorous video or simply scroll my Facebook newsfeed again. I will do anything to distract myself from the twinge of uneasiness.
Jesus’ own life was a beautiful, and tragic, mix of purpose and pain. He’s described as a man well acquainted with grief, perhaps because He was crystal-clear in his purpose, right to the cross. Unlike Him, we deeply desire purpose but often want it without the pain. We want to be the passionate, strong leader our church teaches us to be, but often we want to go unscathed in the process.
My own sense of purpose is somewhat vague to me during this present season. I wrestle to unearth that which I sense God drawing me to look at, deeply held beliefs due to scars in my past, as well as patterns of relating that I keep clutched. I cooperate, slowly letting go like a child releasing a blanket of security, trusting God will someday bring purpose to all the difficult grappling.
In the words of speaker, writer and thought-leader, Dan Allender, to have purpose “…one needs to have walked where few choose to tread – the valley of the shadow of death.” The irony of this is that it is actually good news. In a sense God’s only requirement for us to have purpose is to look inward, with Him, at the truth of our trauma and brokenness. Only then, after being refined, will our profound purpose be revealed. Beauty from ashes? Oh yes, with a relentless trust that our purpose is something God had in mind for us all along.
Join us April 28th for our Unleash Your Life Purpose Workshop and begin to find and unleash your unique and stunning purpose into this world.