A talented colleague said to me the other day: “Serving immigrants has become my life’s work.“
Not only does she serve the documented and undocumented immigrants of her community, but she is also a faithful spouse, a loving mom, a generous pastor, and a good daughter.
What has become our life’s work – whether it’s what we do for money or what we do for love?
Most of us have more than one life’s purpose: to be a loving partner, a committed parent, a reliable volunteer, a force for good, a person making a difference in the world via teaching, preaching, banking, creating, selling, fixing, counseling, cleaning, serving.
Or maybe it’s not a “cause” that gives our lives meaning. Maybe it’s a mission statement. One of the best family mission statements I’ve heard recently is “We are pro-cuddling and we vote!” (h/t to BN) But whether we realize it or not, each of us has a de facto mission statement. Maybe it’s something like this:
- I will do the best I can do in this office and then I’ll get out and enjoy retirement.
- I will shepherd my children through high school and then go back to work.
- I am going to be the best ___ I can be.
I imagine that some of us (or most of us?) basically get through each day without a long range plan or a defining mission. We just want to be safe/secure/comfortable.
One of the Reasons to Live in my Presbyterian faith tradition goes something like this (with a nod to inclusive language):
Q. 1. What is the chief end of humanity?
A. Humanity’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy God forever.*
Many of us live to enjoy life. Whether we are actually enjoying it or not is another thing.
But “to enjoy God forever” is an interesting twist. I believe in a God who was so willing to offer abundant life that this God would turn water into wine, heal lepers, and even die for us. Too few of us seem to be enjoying what we would call “an abundant life.”
Our life’s purpose changes over time. As the mom of three little ones, my daily purpose was once simply to keep them alive for another day. These days, I’m especially interesting in a life spent talking about race, learning about people who are not like me, speaking up about interfaith understanding and teaching about church culture shifts. I’m also spending some time cheerleading for the PCUSA – a church I love. I’d also like to live long enough to retire with HH and to be an interesting old person.
I live for these causes. What about you?
Image from a school for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon taken in March 2017. *From the Westminster Shorter Catechism