Some people are blessed with the knowledge of knowing their pre-destined path in life, almost as if it were served to them on a silver platter with a five-course-meal. It’s as if their purpose was delivered by their local mail carrier in a beautifully packaged box, and all they have to do is pull the string for the ribbon to release its contents.
Maybe they were born with it written on their birth certificate right next to their length and weight – 6 lbs. 15 oz., 21 in. long, Purpose: Changing the World.
Wouldn’t that be lovely? Knowing exactly what you are supposed to do, where you are supposed to go, and how you are supposed to make an impact from the moment you exit your mother’s warm and secure nook and are welcomed into our chaotic world? Wouldn’t it be a beautiful baby shower gift if your parents’ friends gifted them with your life’s roadmap instead of a box of diapers?
But you and I know that while some people realize at an early age their calling, for most of us, it is a quest we embark upon the moment we let out our first cry… maybe instead of that cry being associated with the temperature change, it’s our cry for help; a cry to not just have someone else help us physically, but our cry to Him to help lead us purposefully.
For more than 15 years post-college, I was meandering on the path that I thought I was supposed to be on. Working with non-profit organizations meant that I was mission-focused, but I found my passion being zapped. The bureaucracy of any organization will likely take its toll on you if you let it, and even though I was determined not to – for purpose of making a difference in a cause – it wiggled its way in and took root in my life. I was no longer fulfilled. I no longer felt valuable or valued. I wanted to give up.
I found myself going through the motions, which consisted of the daily monotony of work and parenting, peppered with an occasional outing to fuel a hobby that I had picked up. You see, in the midst of traversing the path that I thought I was called to be on, God plopped something else in my lap. The calling to write a book. I didn’t know why He felt so strongly that He needed ME to write this, but every time I tried to focus more on my career and less on His calling, I felt Him at my back, poking me with His finger until I caved in.
He wanted me to write, so I would write. I didn’t know what about, but slowly He told me. He told me through my career challenges and parenting failures. He told me through the voice of others and through the squeaks of my young kiddos. And when He wanted me to publish His book, He didn’t let me walk away when I wasn’t sure how to afford it. That’s when I finally received His roadmap, and boy was it completely different from what I would have ever imagined.
A wreath maker. He called me to leave my job (actually I was impacted by corporate layoffs when I didn’t follow His calling to leave on my own), write His messages, and make wreaths. I had only made one wreath prior to this, and let’s be honest, it was no Martha Stewart beauty. But that Christmas after I prayed about how I would find the finances to fulfill His calling in my life, He placed in my heart the idea to make a burlap wreath for my brother-in-law and his family as a welcoming feature for their new home.
I hadn’t made one before, but where there’s YouTube, there’s a way! And I have to be honest, after cranking out my first, I was quite impressed with my handiwork, having learned a skill I didn’t know I had. I was so excited I posted it on social media, because, you know, there’s nothing like getting a little validation. I never expected that one post could have the power to change a life, but it did mine.
If life had a fast forward button, I would have used it, wanting to know where a hobby that I didn’t know I had would propel me. In merely months, I was able to raise the money needed for my dream – well, actually His wish – to become something real.
But I wasn’t given a fast forward button in my box of purpose from God. No, I didn’t know the wonders He had in store. Instead, the only reality I got on top of custom wreath orders was a new friendship with the local craft stores. And this friendship wasn’t a surface level kind of one. My relationship dug deep as each custom wreath order pushed me into new creative territory.
So, as one could expect, the craft stores became my home-away-from-home. If I wasn’t found tucked in my house’s nooks, I was found winding a cart through every craft aisle collecting materials like they were going out of style. I found freedom in this crafter’s dream haven; my kids, on the other hand, boycotted attending.
It was as if passing through the sliding doors and breathing the craft store’s circulated air they would contract the plague, or worse, they would have to endure monotony as their momma pondered flower color combos. They didn’t endorse this career shift and begged to not join me on my material collection adventures. Well, two out of the three of them did. My daughter, on the other hand, had her life’s purpose built into her psyche from day one, and little did I know our crafting experiences were meant to thrust her to put her mission into action.
A grumpy trio of littles were greeted one afternoon during an unwanted, but required, craft outing by a chipper store employee. She saw my patience fading and opted to help this momma out. As they bickered about who got to sit in the cart and who had to walk, she diverted their attention to something she had picked up off the floor. It was Christmas season, so she had a part of a red glittery berry stem in her pocket that she had rescued from the floor with the expectation to toss in the garbage. That is until she decided to put my kids on a quest, and her plan worked.
She gave the glittery trash to my daughter and challenged the kids to look for more hidden treasures around the store. A new adventure awoke, and it was as if creative trash was as valuable as a pirate’s hidden treasure. Each kid, but my daughter especially, would now light up when I brought up the dreaded craft store outing – not because of their excitement for felt, or flowers, or burlap, but for their love of hidden gems.
The fallen beauties that everyone else tossed became valuable in our household. My daughter began collecting all types, but her most favorite were broken fabric pieces, colored to give the perception of being a life-like flower petal. As people would pick up artificial flowers to observe, deciding if they would purchase, it was inevitable that there would be a fallen soldier; that one of the petals would lose its place and fall into the floor’s abyss. Lucky for it, if it was a day that we stopped by, my daughter would save it from the depths of despair.
I know this as she now has a ridiculous amount of flower waste in her room. All colors, all varieties, all originally seen as trash, but to her, valuable treasure. Initially, I laughed off her newest hoarding addiction; that is until I saw it used to help her change the lives of those around her.
My daughter didn’t come with her purpose on her birth certificate; instead she had it painted on her face in the form of a constant smile. Her purpose – to make others smile – was so baked into her DNA that she suffered speech delays from what her therapist acknowledged as weak muscles. All of her smiling actually impacted the appropriate muscles in her face which helped her form words. But she didn’t let that stop her from her life’s mission, and if her speech was cumbersome, she would find another way – through her flowers.
It started when I would come home having a sour day. She would go missing for a few moments, returning with a broken flower petal, gifting it to me to cheer me up. It then extended to being surprise gifts to her siblings and grandparents, special touches just when each needed them. She would drop them into gift bags before birthday parties and strategically place them around the house, hidden from the naked eye, but purposeful for when you found one. You knew her intentions.
I keep her little flower petals around the house, just where she places them as they have come to teach me so much on the purpose God has for each of us. You see, leaving a career that I had found success in, one that I thought was the path I was supposed to be on, had the potential to make me feel lost. And being laid off can do a lot to one’s spirit, including making you feel valueless. When you are forced to live in the uncomfortable, crazy things can happen. And thanks to my daughter, I’m able to see the beauty in it.
What I’ve come to realize is that the old cliché speaks truth – What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Craft store employees can’t stand all the junk that piles up on the floor, but for my daughter, the junk is her hidden lifelines, meant to be signs of love to give to another. To an employer, your job’s elimination means that you too are out of here, but to God, it just means He can now do His work in your life.
My purpose was carved in stone the day I was born, albeit a stone I didn’t get the chance to see quite yet. Your purpose has been carved too, yet it may take overturning a lot before you find the stone that was always meant for you. You will likely go through lots of trash cleanouts – whether you are calling the dumpster company to send you a crate to fill up or others are tossing you in their proverbial ones. But don’t let this trash talk get you down. The world can try to take you out like a load of rubbish, but to God, you are like the fallen flower petals – beautiful hidden treasures meant to make a difference in the life of another.
Waste is all around us, but when God gifts you with your purpose, you are called to not be wasteful. Don’t waste your time, for time is the most precious gift ever gifted to us. Don’t waste your talents, for He places amazing strengths in us all that one day you will uncover. Don’t waste your energy on efforts that suck you dry. Don’t waste your life focusing on Earthly success for He is calling you to do more, to be more. He is sifting through the trash bins and finding the hidden gems in us all. He is taking out our crumpled pieces of paper, straightening the edges and writing a new and more beautiful story on the pages.
He has a purpose for you and He plans to use your gifts – currently seen or deeply hidden – to fulfill the mission He has crafted just for you. All you have to do is believe that He is working in your life, for to Him, all our world’s trash – our world’s fallen flowers – are His beautiful treasures.