What I considered my Purpose
I thought I had found my purpose very young. At 12 years old I started babysitting for our neighbors, and I loved it! I’d play game after game with the kids, get dinner ready, do the dishes, give baths, handle homework, read bedtime stories, and rock the baby to sleep. Pretending as I shoved the last stuffed animal back in the toy box that it was my house and my kids I had just helped to bed. Always knowing, you could even say feeling called to … being a mom. The responsibilities that came along with being a wife and a mother never seemed like burdens to me.
Throughout college I felt like I was almost wasting my time, just “getting through” each weekend (not that I didn’t enjoy shared cab rides to night clubs on Saturdays and the 3 am primanti brothers sandwiches with friends) but it just wasn’t me. I had almost categorized this degree as a way for me to someday work part time helping support my family while I was mainly home with my kids, and I just wanted it to be over and done with.
My mother had worked at a dental office for over 10 yrs and at 16 I started assisting there. After two years of assisting on dental procedures after school and during the summers I decided to apply for the University of Pittsburgh’s Dental Hygiene Program. I knew I wanted to be home with my kids someday as much as possible and dental hygiene seemed like a field that offered great pay with schedule flexibility.
Pitt’s 2 year dental hygiene program was grueling but I found myself enjoying and excelling in the clinical portions, the days when we were actually in clinic talking with and helping patients. While I struggled with much of the science based course work, when it came to teaching and educating patients I thrived. There were so many labs, facts and statistics, diseases and treatments that I surprisingly started to miss writing creatively. So for electives towards my bachelors degree I enrolled in classes that included literature and journaling.
Once I graduated and was working as a dental hygienist, trying to start paying off my massive amount of student loans, I felt one step closer to where I truly wanted to be – married and raising a family. Once while walking with my (now sister in law) I remember telling her, “I want something more, more than just working in a dental office for the next 30 years, there is something bigger I’m suppose to do”. At the time I thought that was being a mom.
For as long as I can remember, I had this daydream of living in a sprawling ranch, shelty at my feet, with 3 or 4 kids running in a large yard. My husband would get home from work, grab a beer and come kiss me on the temple, his gaze roaming over our land – our home as our children ran through the grass playing tag and kick ball. I felt so pulled towards mother hood that I never even considered that it wasn’t what was meant to fulfill me. That maybe being a good mother, and a good wife wasn’t my whole purpose.
When my husband and I first got together I remember telling him how I wanted to have a lot of kids, about how I’d love to be home with them as much as possible. I used to say to him “I’m suppose to be a mother, I think it’s the only thing I’m ever really going to just be great at”. When we found out we were expecting my son, I couldn’t have been happier! It was like my life was finally starting. The plan was to take 3 months off before returning to work 3-4 days a week. With wishing and waiting to be a mother for so long, it never occurred to me that I would struggle with it. I guess God really does get a chuckle out of the plans we make.
Nothing could ever match the love or closeness I felt for my son when he was born. To this day he is still the best part of me. But for me motherhood didn’t end up looking how I thought it would. Because of tongue and lip ties we struggled with breast feeding for months until both ties were surgically released. Our pediatricians had me insanely stressed about lack of weight gain and how long/often my son was nursing. My husband switched jobs and started working shifts, we were on such separate pages and our marriage was falling apart. I didn’t realize at the time I was struggling with a pretty bad case of postpartum anxiety.
I started dreading the days I was set to work. On nights that I had to work the next day I was having almost full out panic attacks. Racing thoughts of having to wake up early enough to nurse, get myself and the baby ready, load up 5-6 bags, having enough (but not too much) breastmilk thawed out, getting to the sitters, and making it to work on time kept me from falling asleep. Once I made it to work I was ready for a nap! Then 3-4 times a day I had to pump to make sure I had enough breastmilk and was running on so little sleep that I wasn’t even giving 50% of myself to my job.
I went from enjoying my career to every day I had to be at work, feeling so strongly that I just didn’t want to be there. By the time my son was about a year old I felt I was completely broken. Every day it was a tremendous accomplishment just to get out of bed. I was eating horribly, not sleeping, gaining weight, my anxiety was out of control and my marriage was hanging on by a thread. The only bright spot in my life was my son and I just wanted to be home with him.
So many mom’s have multiple kids, work part time or even full time, and are happy. They are energetic, motivated and handle well how busy it can all get. I felt horrible for struggling so much. Thinking that it wasn’t normal to be feeling so tired, run down and unable to cope while only working part time and having one child.
I sat down with my husband and decided things had to change. We started counseling, I cut back on my hours at work, I started working with a holistic doctor and for about a year it felt wonderful to just be moving in a better direction. I finally admitted I had anxiety, I learned my triggers and how to manage it naturally. My marriage was healing and I was getting healthier. I finally started enjoying being a mother because so many of the stress triggers had been removed. I knew being a mother was where my focus should be and for that year it finally felt like I wasn’t totally failing at being a wife and a mom. The funny thing with gaining clarity though, is it sometimes shows you things you didn’t expect.
What God considered my Purpose
After my son turned two, I started noticing I just wasn’t content. How could this be? I had eliminated any sources of stress that I could, I had completely quit my job, I was thriving while being a stay at home mom, and my marriage was back on track. I was finally able to devote a large amount of time towards gut healing, learning about alternative medicine, getting in shape and cooking healthy balanced meals. We were considering having another child. I had everything I had always wanted. Why did I often having this nagging feeling that something was missing.
I would wake up in the middle of the night constantly thinking, “I’m suppose to be doing something more”, with a feeling of unease when I thought of returning to work after the kids were in school. During our marriage counseling one of the tools we had been given to use during anxiety or confusion was journaling, and for me journaling would always lead to praying.
So when I saw a friend recommend a journal on Facebook by Rachel Anne Ridge titled, “Made to Belong, a 6 week journey to discover your life purpose” it felt like a perfect fit. I couldn’t wait to get started and ordered it that day on amazon. And I can’t begin to express the impact completing it has had on my life.
These pages contained Scriptures and writing prompts that lead to clearing away all of the mental clutter. It shined a perfect light on where and how I could serve God and fulfill my purpose. Each journal prompt chipped away at all of the pre-conceived notions I had on what my life should or would look like. Slowly each week reminding me of my strengths and helping diminish the doubt created from my weaknesses, erasing the useless thoughts and worries.
In week three Rachel writes about, “God’s purpose in us: for us to be loved, to belong and to grow”. She walks us through Scripture and reminds us, “God wants to take what we have and use it to affect others in a positive way”. With each passing week it was like the blurry, out of reach answer to what I should be doing with my life was becoming a sharp, defined glowing image.
I had struggled so much in the last few years and I could use that journey, and all the knowledge I had gathered, to help others. So their journey might not be as harsh as mine. I loved journaling, I missed writing and that creative outlet needed to be nurtured because it was one of my greatest strengths. I felt most content when helping to educate others, embracing my writing, and being home with my son. So I needed to find a way to incorporate these things into a different career.
That thought alone was daunting and at first caused nothing but a feeling of rejection. My parents and myself had invested a small fortune in my college degree, how could I just throw that away? I was almost 30 and raising a family, now was not the time to reinvent myself or start off into an unknown direction.
But I prayed, and I journaled. I opened my mind and heart to new possibilities, to maybe actually finding my purpose. Rachel worked through more Scriptures, showing how it is never too late. Because I was always where I was meant to be. I needed to go through everything up until this point and use those stepping stones to leap right on into this new chapter in my life.
After finishing the 6 week journal in November, I made a choice. I would take 2017 to try new things and be open to my writing becoming the start of a new life direction. I saw multiple webinars for free advertised on Facebook, so I started signing up. Listening to one a night when my son went to bed. As I considered starting a business, writing a book, or maybe going back to school for holistic nutrition I ran across a Pinterest post by Stacey from http://thesoccermomblog.com titled “5 must knows for new bloggers”. So I followed them, just 5 easy steps and I was the proud owner of a web domain and no clue where to go from there.
But I felt excited, and I felt motivated. So I wrote on list of paper a bunch of topics I had been learning about over the last few years, things that I wish someone around me had known. And as I started writing, I started feeling alive. Joining Facebook blogging groups helped get my blog up and running. In less than 3 months time I went from feeling stuck, confused and guilty to feeling lit up on the inside. Turning this blog into a career by using my writing, my journey and my knowledge to help others is a dream come true. I’m a better wife and mother when my creativity and passion are being fully utilized.
I truly believe everyone has a calling, a purpose they are meant to live out. And when you’ve found yours, when your living it, you know it. Because nothing, honestly, can keep you from it. When your doing what you were born to do, it doesn’t feel like work. The long hours, frustration, even the struggles associated with it, don’t ever feel bigger than the joy you receive from it. So no matter what stage of life you’re in, if you’re getting that feeling in your chest, that nagging voice in your head telling you that your meant for something else, something bigger, its never too late. The world is craving what you have to offer, there are people who will benefit from your strengths and your gifts.
And if you can’t quite seem to get a lead on what it is you should be doing, if you need help gaining clarity on finding your purpose, I truly feel this 6 week prompting journal can help you find that direction. It’s available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com. So take a chance, take 6 weeks and let 2017 be your year of discovery too! Because nothing feels as fulfilling or leaves you as content as helping others while you live out God’s plan for you <3