Archive for the ‘Purpose’ Tag

The Dark Side of My Brain   Leave a comment

I’ve had a week off from school now and the whirl has subsided.  When school is in session, my life feels like it has direction and meaning, however short-term and contrived.  In some ways getting another degree feels ridiculously arbitrary as a goal, like digging a hole in the ground and knocking a ball into it with a stick, becoming really good at stick-swinging, better than anyone else (though a hole-in-one actually benefits no one).  Of course I hope I can be of benefit to others through counseling, and I hope it can keep us financially in the black even though I will be starting a new career at 60.  At least counseling pays better and is more physically sustainable into old age than pitching 50 pound bags of mulch into people’s trucks at Home Depot.

When I’m no longer pressed by arbitrary class deadlines, the expansiveness that opens up blows emptiness into my soul.  Why am I here?  What meaning does my life have?  How can I make a difference in a world that has sloughed me off like Teflon?  Even wearing an orange apron and pointing at the wasp spray is a distraction from the hollowed out feeling of having no purpose but to somehow survive until death relieves me of that obligation.

Each day at work is measured in hours passing–to somehow fill the time until my first break, then slog 2 hours till lunch, then manage to stay busy enough till the afternoon break, which puts me close enough to the end of my shift to give faint hope of escape.  That game of monotony is still better than sitting at home trying to make sense of the life I was handed like a bag full of small parts that come with no explanation or instructions.

It helps a little to talk about it, so thanks for listening.


Posted April 28, 2018 by janathangrace in Personal

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Struggling with Meaninglessness   2 comments

What makes a life meaningful?  I thrash this out every day without an answer.  Are we each born with a particular role to play, some important and unique goodness to offer the world, a vital and irreplaceable gift to this place and time?  Is it a natural result of our daily faithfulness or must we work to bring it about?  Can we see it in action or is it hidden?  If that remains a mystery to us, does faith call us to keep looking or to let it go?  What do I tell my aching heart as it faces disappointment day after day in finding meaning, usefulness, purpose?

Do I try to make a few small contributions carry the weight of a whole life lived? Does 24 hours of eating, cleaning, sleeping, thinking, and doing my job find its meaning in giving someone a brief smile mid-afternoon.  It seems like a huge investment for a very small outcome, something a cat video could do as easily, and for the benefit of thousands, not just one.  If the world is no better for my living in it, then why am I still here?

I wash the dishes and what does that accomplish?  I will be in the exact same place after the next meal, a sink full of plates and silverware.  Like one more step on the gerbil wheel, I shop, cook, eat, wash, sweep, water the plants, feed the dogs, shower, driving the wheel through one more cycle and the major result is being one day closer to death.  Being faithful feels more like meaningless drudgery, like digging holes and refilling them, than it feels like usefulness.  Sure my muscles are being strengthened, but to what end… to dig more holes?

In the meantime, the world oozes with needs, and I have gifts to offer that are log-jammed behind closed doors.  I only see one option–give a short smile to my next customer.

I share these thoughts to offer to others my honest struggles, not to offer answers, which I often do not find.  It is the sharing that I hope encourages others to know they are not alone.

Posted May 22, 2016 by janathangrace in Personal

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LOST   Leave a comment

If your life is happy or satisfying so that simply living feels good and worthwhile or if your life is integral to something that you believe is an important endeavor, then life has meaning for you.  I have lacked the first for twenty years and the second for ten years.  It makes me feel lost, directionless, without purpose.  I cannot make sense of my life.  Why am I here?  The only goal-oriented living I do is my personal growth.  But for various reasons that doesn’t seem a focus I can organize my whole life around… for one thing, it is self-absorbed.  I feel like a screw that is always sharpening its threads and point but never being used to screw things together.

Many would suggest that our purpose is to be connected to God, but unless I became a monk (and I’m sure Kimberly would object with good reason), I’m not sure how to organize my life around that either–that objective describes the person with whom I do life more than the activities that fill up my life.

The old Calvinist theology of “calling” suggests not only that one may have a purpose, but that it is a purpose for which God planned, designed, and equipped us, not one randomly chosen.  After all a screw might decide to act as a light bulb, but that would have obvious drawbacks.

In that regard, I do feel particularly equipped and effective at preaching/teaching, but I have no avenues for exercising that gift… and have almost no emotional energy for seeking them out.  So, it seems I must become emotionally energized (and I’m at a loss to know how) or some opportunity must be dropped in my lap.  Neither of those has happened in ten years.  So I sit waiting, filing my little threads.  Perhaps the right moment will come, or perhaps I will die of old age waiting.  But the question remains, “What is the point of it all?” as I daily suffer the sharp pain of feeling useless to a vast, needy world.

Posted July 12, 2015 by janathangrace in Personal

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Coming Out of the Closet   9 comments

So, yes, I did sort of blandly confess yesterday that my life is a useless dead-end.  If my dispassion came from fatalism or apathy, it would likely be a sign of spiritual stagnation, but instead, my sharing it with such ease and openness (not stuffed with caveats or apologies or explanations) is a very real sign of spiritual growth for me.  It has taken years for me to slowly come out of the closet as a failure, a nobody, and grow into the faith that God is in control and loves me with an unfettered grace.  He is famous for using asses (both the donkey variety and the human kind) to accomplish good on this earth, even those totally resistant to his purposes, like Jonah at Ninevah and Peter with the Ethiopian eunuch, so he can surely use someone like me who, though deeply flawed, is eager to be his instrument.

I no longer cower under the withering suspicion that my flaws keep me on the bench, but It is not easy to feel useless, to feel as though my gifts fall to the ground like rotting apples in a starving country.  It requires faith and patience in the mystery of God’s will and work in the world.  I’m getting better at that… I have to get better at it because the longer I live, the more clearly I see the wreckage around me.  As I told Kimberly yesterday, this wretched world gives no rational proof of a good God.  The balance sheets of justice (let alone beauty and goodness) cannot be reconciled on earth.  As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” Forget the world around me, the world inside my chest is so slow in growing towards God that death will catch me long before I’ve lived into half the truth I’ve come to see. 

God has a lot of explaining to do to justify his creating this muck-up since he knew the disaster that would come, but I expect one glimpse of his beauty will obliterate all our questions and doubts and captivate our hearts.  Until then, we live by faith in a beauty we cannot see, in a grace we cannot well absorb, and in a love that guides us through the dark and home to his heart.  May we all find our way by grace and en-courage one another with compassion.

Posted February 25, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Waiting for Godot   2 comments

Yeah, I know I haven’t been around for a while.  I’m trying to figure life out… still.  At least my own life.  But there are no bread crumbs for me to follow.  Why post about a meaningless life?  Who does that help?  My days have devolved into an endless round of getting up, walking the dog, reading, chatting up my wife, and going to work.    I have nothing to share about truths I’m stretching into or dreams I’m sketching out or even struggles I am surviving.  Life has dumped me in a DMV waiting room with no one behind the counter.  I’ve been sitting here for a year now.

I no longer wake up miserable every morning, and there is something to be said for that, but can someone please remind me the point of waking up each morning?  It is like Groundhog Day but with an endlessly repeating script.  Didn’t we just do this yesterday… and the day before… and….   MacBeth mutters the truth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

Posted November 10, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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