This year of transition and settling in have allowed me to reflect on my sacred purpose and my twisted path, and I have had to question whether I’ve been courageous or just plain crazy! I have found myself wondering about my sanity, and whether I have been hearing God rightly.
However, in this process of “coming to myself,” as the Prodigal Son did in Luke 15, I recognized that I had to divest not only of other people’s opinions and projections, but also of my own ego. Something I learned from Servant Leadership School of Greensboro is that “the ego is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” In Luke 15, it was the elder brother, the one who had always been with his father, that had the unchecked ego and who had not yet come to himself. We’ll have to unpack that another time, though.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to substitute teach a Tuesday and Thursday class at Laurel University for my pastor, and as God would have it, the class discussions centered around “self-awareness” and “call.” The class discussion reminded me that what has been essential to my process of “coming to myself” is the discipline of self-awareness—understanding my personality type, my spiritual gifts, my strengths, my passions, values, experiences, convictions, context, etc.–in other words, recovering God’s good intention and sacred purpose for me and my life. Then as I heard and discussed the amazing call stories of this diverse group of students, I reminisced about my own call story. I was reminded how my call resembles Abram’s call, because it seems to be sandwiched between two difficult sets of circumstances.
What I have found, though, is that regardless of what my human predicament has been, once I surrendered, God has always been faithful. Things did not always end up the way that I had envisioned, but as I learned to go with the flow, things usually worked out much better than I could have thought or imagined. From the outside looking in and sometimes from the inside looking out, I have either looked courageous or crazy.
Who makes a two year commitment to work in a country they have never even visited? Who gives their notice to move without knowing where they are moving? Who chooses their convictions over a paycheck? Who quits their job without having another one? Someone who is either courageous or crazy. Well, the Bible and our present day lives are filled with people who look either courageous or crazy!
I would suggest that I am a little bit of both–crazy and courageous. For according to this world’s standards, many of my steps absolutely look crazy, but in my pursuit of blissful authenticity and through the lens of sacred purpose, I see my counter-cultural, out of the box, and inspired–not simply intellectualized–steps as courageous.
After all, I am a follower of Jesus, who is the epitome of counter-cultural, out of the box, and Spirit-led living. Jesus was free to “go” wherever God was leading, and to meet people at their point of need, because He practiced non-attachment to many of the accretions that presently give us a false sense of identity.
According to the standard of that time period and even of current accepted societal norms, Jesus would be considered to be bat-sh@#-crazy—a raving lunatic. However, in his willingness to be counter-cultural, to stand outside the institutional systems of injustice, and to stand with the marginalized, Jesus was and is courageous.
Now, I do not come anywhere near being just like Jesus, but on this journey to becoming who I really be, I have learned to pursue my sacred purpose. That means doing what blesses my soul and the souls of others; it means acting in accordance with God’s timing. It means taking the route God has prepared so that I can reach the spacious place that God is calling me into–regardless of the uncomfortable and inconvenient terrain I have to cross. In the process, I have been perceived by myself and others as both courageous and crazy, and I have learned to love and embrace them both!
The pursuit of sacred purpose is a process of peeling back the layers that we have subconsciously built up to protect ourselves from the bad, which has also kept out the good. More importantly, it has kept in the goodness of our essence–keeping it hidden, constricted and unexpressed. With layers peeled back, however, we arrive at center–our sweet spot of blissful authenticity. Mark Nepo describes this sweet spot as
“the center I once glimpsed…all around me, a landscape I now live in, and I will not pretend any more. If those I love can’t recognize me with my soul out in the open, I will no longer retreat and show what is familiar.”
To live from a place of blissful authenticity and fulfill your sacred purpose is the greatest gift you can offer to the world! Howard Thurman puts it this way,
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
So, take some time to know what your truth is, find a safe space for the expression of that truth, and never stop learning about who you be and why you are here. There is something special and unique that only you can offer to the world, and I pray that you will come to “know” what it is so you can “be” who you are, and “go” where you are sent!