My secret to living a joyful life....Finding my purpose and serving others.
It took me 50 + years to discover my reason for being on this planet and to discover what brings me joy and to discover my purpose. I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian since I was a child, but I haven't always led a joyful and victorious life. There were many times I veered off the path I knew I was being called to follow and took the easier, worldly path.There were many times when I found myself running from, rather than towards, God. Struggling through years of infertility and miscarriage, as well as dealing with my mom's long battle with pancreatic cancer and her death were two really painful experiences that led me away from following God's plan for my life.
After my mother passed away I was in the darkest time in my life. I was struggling not only with dealing with the loss of my mom, my rock, my best friend, and biggest cheerleader, but was also dreading the looming empty nest as my youngest was a senior in high school and would soon be leaving home for college. What would I do with myself now? I had stopped working when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to care for her and my sole purpose for those years had been caring for her and being a mom. I had no idea who I was now that Mom had passed away and my children were no longer living at home.
I knew that I needed to do something to pull myself out of the downward spiral I was in, so I recommitted myself to focusing on my personal relationship with the Lord and finding out what to do during this new chapter in my life.
I've had many varied careers along the way....flight attendant, neonatal nurse, massage therapist, teacher, as well as many other jobs along the way. While I enjoyed most of them, I can't say that as I was working that I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose.Difficulty having children had led me into neonatal intensive care nursing, but I did not feel like I was being led back into nursing at this time in my life. I looked at all the things I had done and saw a common theme. Most of them had some sort of "service" theme. I headed back to work as a massage therapist and set about finding a new church while I figured out how to find myself again. I decided to go all-in with this process and be open to where God was leading me.
After joining a new church, I've been learning about my spiritual gifts and my personality and took the plunge by getting more involved in my church and in service. I have found in the process that I'm most rewarded when I'm doing something to help someone else. I enjoy serving at my church in Next Steps and Growth Track, and became a small group leader of a group I started called Helping Hands for Babies. In our small group we get involved in service projects for a local NICU, volunteer to hold, rock, and feed the babies, make blankets for NICU babies, and get involved with the families. I also am a hospice volunteer and work with a local hospice agency sitting with hospice patients, and work part-time as a massage therapist.
What I learned in this process is that God took two of the most painful periods in my life (wanting to have a child yet faced with infertility and miscarriage, and my mom's cancer diagnosis, illness, and death) and turned them into my purpose. I learned that rather than fight against the painful experiences, I can bloom where God plants me. I'm now busier than I was while I was working full-time and being a mom, and each day is filled with more contentment and sense of purpose by making a difference in not only others, but in my own life. Helping someone else helps not only them, but it also helps me.
Right now I'm praying about whether to quit my massage practice and turn my little small groups into a full-time ministry by branching out to some of the other local NICUs and providing more services than we are currently providing. I'm looking into how to start a not-for-profit ministry and what that entails. I'm also contemplating starting a small group around hospice volunteering at some point. I'm not sure where God will be leading me with this, but I know that I trust Him to lead me and am excited to go where He calls!
Life is a journey filled with so many opportunities for growth and learning! I think our painful experiences and our failures can oftentimes teach us so much more about ourselves than the times where life is easy and successful. I learned that I CAN have a rewarding life as an empty-nester! I CAN bloom where God plants me! Most of all I CAN find myself and my purpose by serving others! I get to do this and I was made for this!
Looking back to where I was a few years ago and where I am now is enlightening. I took my focus off of myself and my grief and pain, and put the focus outwardly where it should have been the whole time, and in the process I found myself again and realized why I'm here.
Life is not always easy and some days I have to choose joy instead of focusing on my problems.I still have my struggles with trying to lose weight, the financial drain of having two children in college, and dealing with the hormone changes in this stage of my life, but I realize how blessed I am and that each day I have an opportunity to choose joy and to use my blessings to bless someone else. Life is precious and each of us were put on this earth for our own unique purpose. Finding my purpose has helped me find myself again.
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."