I remember vividly the first time I proclaimed to my family what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was after I finished reading a Chinese memoir written by a war correspondent, a book full of fascinating stories of prominent people he interviewed, and his adventures in the middle east war zone.
As I put down the book, I exclaimed to my perplexed dad: “I want to be a journalist in a war zone one day!” I was about 13 years old.
Last week, this studious teenager turned 37. Much has happened in my life except for becoming a journalist. Even though, I did choose journalism as my major in university.
Something more profound happened while I was pursuing my dreams. I found God and became a Christian in my freshman year, which completely changed my trajectory. I had thought that I would land a job as a journalist at a local media company and slowly build my career. However, my brokenness laid bare after I learned the truth of God and myself.
The pains I had buried deep inside somehow all sprang out, crying loudly for attention and redemption—- The death of my father right before my college began, the prolonged health and financial struggles in my family, the regrets of not matching up my parents’ academic expectations…
Though I had wanted to use journalism to convey valuable information, speak for those unable to speak for themselves, and save lives, I realized I needed to be saved first, which only God can do.
Therefore, I quit pursuing my journalism dream and joined a Christian training school after graduation. I wanted to know my Savior better and to be healed.
A three-month training turned into an eight years’ cross-cultural mission work. I served. I healed. I grew.
Leaving the organization in my early 30s, graduating from two years’ seminary study, international moving, being entrusted with marriage and motherhood, I keep growing and evolving amidst the changing seasons, just like we all do.
If having served in the mission organization throughout my 20s laid the foundation, formed, and enhanced my Christian faith and my passion for the Great Commission in Mattew 28:18-20, the concept of defining my purpose is something I only began to scratch surface in my early 30s.
I’m all for the Great Commission. But no one can do it all.
My long time challenge had been: what is my part in this big picture?
One of my favorite podcaster Cathy Heller says in her intro of each podcast episode: “The opposite of depression is not happiness, is purpose.” I couldn’t agree more.
Your God-given purpose is the intersection of what you are passionate about, what you are good at, and what the world needs to resemble God’s kingdom.
Your deepest passion sometimes comes from your deepest pain. How you’ve been healed and set free is valuable content you can share with those who are still struggling. For me, I’m passionate about functional and beautiful homemaking, wellbeing in soul, spirit, and body, healthy relationship building, and tasting abundance in Christ in every season.
What you are good at serves as a tool to convey the message of healing, hope, and freedom. It may be writing, baking, gardening, building houses.
What the world needs is the piece of your redemption story, your ideas, your creativity, your skills, and your love to fill this humanity puzzle to its glory.
Do I still want to be a journalist? Yes and no. Not exactly the way I’d imagined as a teenager. Yet, I still want to convey meaningful words, help my audience to name the things they couldn’t name themselves, nourish their souls, and challenge their thinking through writing ( for now ).
It takes time to define our purpose. I’m still on a journey to peel the layers to get to the core. Perhaps our primary purpose changes as the season of life changes. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter that much as long as we know how to serve well in the next minute.
How do you define your purpose? I’d love to read your comments below!