Give Life to Your Story: Learning to Live with a Purpose

Mike Green and his wife, Laura, lead Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ. They have two great adult children and two wonderful grandkids. You can reach Mike at Mike Green and his wife, Laura, lead Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ. They have two great adult children and two wonderful grandkids. You can reach Mike at Mike Green

I was recently challenged by my Sunday school teacher to think more deeply about my true purpose in life. You might think that such a search would typically be done by a teenager or young adult – not a 50-something grandfather who spends his working days helping teenagers find their purpose. But something my Sunday school teacher said struck a nerve and I came to a realization: What I had been telling others and myself, and how I have lived, have been in contradiction.

As I wrestled with this conflict, I could see clear evidence in my life that what I said and what I did didn’t coincide. Although I had always believed that my life had some higher purpose, I lived my life for something else. Something more basic. As I walked through my personal history, both distant and recent, I could now see clearly why I had made many of the decisions I had made in life. I am not complex. And my discovery has left me feeling a bit shallow and ordinary. 

Let me tell you what I had come to believe about myself: I thought I was a person whose ultimate purpose was to please God. To live my life for Him. To make His will for my life my ultimate purpose. But what I discovered, after some self-analysis, is I have most often lived my life just to be happy. That even as a Christian, my own happiness was my ultimate goal

Now, you might respond with the notion that everyone is exactly the same. Everyone ultimately lives to be happy. I have heard, “We may all find happiness in different places, but all of us want this one ultimate prize in life.” But here is my question for you: What if it’s not? What if our life was meant for so much more? What if our pursuit of happiness leads to all types of selfish decisions? What if we raise kids who think that life is ultimately about their own happiness? 

I once heard an illustration that life is a lot like climbing a ladder: Some of us climb faster and succeed better than others around us. But what if you were the very best climber around and got to the top quicker than anyone else, only to discover your ladder was leaning against the wrong wall? Is it possible that happiness is the wrong wall? Is it possible we were made for something more? 

I have found that happiness comes and goes in this life. When we choose to pursue the right things, happiness has a way of finding us. But it is a horrible goal. It leads to all sorts of warped views on life. 

This is a huge topic with far-reaching implications. So, I leave you with this: What is your true purpose? What is it you strive toward and are willing to lose everything else in order to obtain? Maybe what you have been saying and living are at odds. Maybe it’s time to check your ladder and make sure it’s leaning against the right wall.  

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.