Living on Purpose

By Robert Wesley Branch

We are responsible for what we know and how we live.

There are people who you see every day who don’t have a clue as to their purpose for being. They don’t know why they came here. These family members, friends, co-workers and complete strangers can more easily tell you what they do for a living, how much they earn each year, what they possess, and they can no doubt eloquently describe for you their vacation plans, but they will most probably stop cold if you ask them: Who are you? What is your purpose? Why were you born?

In any corporation or enterprise, you will find some whose job is their dream, some whose job is their passion, and others whose job is but their job. I suppose, on some level, for some people, it is indeed a blessing to possess a position in which you don’t really have to work. This lack of obligation or challenge is what, I guess, distinguishes a position from a job. For the uninspired, a position is ideal; for the visionary, a job is not enough; for the dreamer, nothing less than the dream will do.

The challenge for the visionary and for the dreamer who finds himself or herself in a job, or even in a position, is to use it. This can be exhausting work, but taken as necessary, taken as practice, taken as a training ground, taken as preparation, this tribulation can become a blessing. One often does not see one’s own blessings while inside of struggle; it is on the other side of sacrifice that one comes to perceive the rain as nurturing, and even necessary, and at the climax of perception, one comes to see struggle as a prerequisite to great achievement.

It is possible to be missing in one’s own life. It is possible to live one’s life pursuing and fulfilling a destiny, working in an uninspiring job that has little to do with what you really want to be doing. It is possible for your daily experience to become random; for your best ideas, plans, and goals to get confused; for you to lose your vision in the details of making it all happen. Finding yourself again is not an easy journey, especially when you are not who you thought yourself to be. It is equally possible, however, to redeem lost time, to build back what you intended to become when you first dreamed. If your dream has stayed with you in the darkness, and in loneliness, and in distraction, and in the desperate hours; if your dream has remained, then it is here to inform you of something: that you have to fulfill your destiny. That is why you are here. That is what you came to do. That is why you were born. That is why you were formed in the womb by the hand of God. That is why God first dreamed of you.

Each of us were created to do something only we can do and to be someone only we can be. When we pursue this unique mission and become our potential, we are on purpose with our lives. What we may discover, if we live on purpose, is that our dream is in fact God’s dream; that we are more like God that we are not. There is a path that you will have to follow in order to find your purpose; it is the journey to God. When you find God, you will discover your essence, and then you will come to know who you really are.

There is a healing that can take place as you evolve; healing from the pain that is so much a part of our human experience; healing from the disappointments of childhood; healing from the scars amassed from the battles of life. You will only experience this healing if you seek it, and if you believe it when you are exposed to its presence, and if you accept it once it calls out for you, and attaches itself to you. It is equally possible to miss it entirely, to never know its transformative power, to never experience its regenerative nature, to never be changed and made whole by it. Living authentically, from your heart, is the way to begin this emotional, spiritual, physical and mental healing. And by that I mean doing what you know in your heart is the right thing to do; being what, from your heart, you know is the right kind of person to be; saying what, from your heart, you know is the right thing to say; and pursuing what, from the deepest of your heart’s desires, you really want to be doing with your life. This is what it truly means to follow after your Spirit. And your soul.

Leading a spiritual life, pursuing the higher things of God, does not deliver one from the pain of living in this present world, as we see and know it to be. But what it does do is to allow one to possess hope; it affords one the opportunity to re-purpose the pain one feels, to use it for a greater good, so that others who would also be hurting and in pain, may have your example, and your testimony, and your joy for inspiration. Knowing God doesn’t prevent one from feeling pain, but seeking after and committing oneself to the spiritual life is, in itself, curative; and this healing begins in the seeker and spreads outward to all of those within his touch and within her earshot.

To believe in things spiritual, one has to abandon tradition, which can mean turning away from one’s own senses: ceasing to trust in some of what you’ve always heard; some of what you’ve always read and believed and accepted as truth; some of what you’ve always seen since you’ve seen anything. When you begin to live authentically – from your heart – you are believing in a destiny, in a reality, in a new you that is not necessarily visible yet in its full maturity. This is called faith. When you accept faith, invisible and intangible as it can be, you are opening yourself up to experience a plane of consciousness that changes the way you view the world; changes how you see life; changes your perception of your own life; changes what you think about yourself; changes what you do; changes the manner in which you speak; changes your expectations; changes what you will experience; changes who you are.

Everything around us is in a process of change. During fall, green leaves become orange, and yellow, and every shade in between. The daily temperature slowly descends. A chilly breeze returns. We don more clothing to retain comfortable warmth. Old things begin to fall away, and the newness we expect and believe in begins to take root, albeit below the surface of our vision. We may admire this process of change, or we may take it for granted, but apart from our relationship with change, apart from our perception of change – change is, and it is all by itself. It would seem that we ought to use it. It’s not about what happens to you – it’s about what you do with it – how you use it. To use change, we have to leave the comfort zone.

When you open your heart and seek wisdom, you will find it, and once you find wisdom, if you use it, you will become changed, as the knowledge you possess begins to work for you and through you and in you by means of your renewed thought and modified behavior. To the degree that this becomes a lifestyle, you will become wise. We are responsible for what we know and how we live. To whom much is given, much is required. With wisdom comes the obligation to not be a hindrance to another in their pursuit of a spiritual life. When one recognizes one’s own spiritual power, it becomes clearer how one’s actions, and one’s words, can help and inspire people or erect stumbling-blocks along their path. This is frightening and humbling. The way to keep the momentum, and the wisdom, that is gained in God, is to continually course-correct one’s way of life to meet the needs of spiritual progress; in so doing, one becomes a continual blessing to those within one’s reach. The more course-correcting one undertakes, the larger one’s reach becomes. This is a benefit of the spiritual life: the more you become useful to God, the more God will use you.

And that is living on purpose at its best.

© 1998