I don’t want to write just to write.
I penned these words in my journal on July 17th, 2015, a time when I was wrestling with the difference between simply writing words, and writing words that mean something.
After timidly claiming the title of “writer,” I decided that maybe that wasn’t who I truly was.
When I say “I’m a writer,” the first question people usually ask is, “Oh, what kind of stories do you write?” And then…I sigh. And do my best to explain.
“Actually, I write Christian Living Nonfiction for teens and young adults,” I chirp, trying to let the response come out sounding more passionate than canned. And yet, after perfecting that statement, and doing my best to sound like I’ve got even a slight clue of what I’m doing, I sigh again.
Because somewhere deep down, something in me doesn’t want to consider what I do “real writing.” And why is that? Simply, because I write what I’m passionate about – my faith – and even though I say I love to write, I want to write with absolute intention.
Hope-giving words, not just beautiful-sounding prose.
Words that make a direct difference in people’s lives in the way that I feel called to do.
And for me, that’s not found in writing scholarly articles, not found in writing compelling ads for companies, not found in creating worlds with dynamic characters and marvelous settings and magnificent plot twists.
For me, personally, I find that my life purpose is best fulfilled when I am writing words reflecting the truths God has placed on my heart.
That’s when the words flow free, when they spill from my soul onto the page in an experience I can’t quite explain.
This is what writing is to me: a manifestation of intentional living.
And just as I journaled that night in July – I don’t want to write just to write – the same is true for me this very day. For those that feel called to write articles, papers, stories, ads, or whatever it may be, I say this: go for it. Do what you feel called to do, because it is then that you will fulfill one purpose for your life.
As for me, I choose not to use terms like “writer” lightly. When I say I love to write, I mean that I love to use the pen to express my faith. I also love to use my voice. And my actions.
My Christian faith is so much a part of me that I cannot imagine a life without experiencing and sharing the hope and joy I find in Christ alone.
And this all comes back to intentionality, truly.
What will we do with the gifts we’ve been given?
Will we allow the Holy Spirit to direct us to use our gifts to fulfill the purpose instilled in us by God?
Will we allow our passions to take us places that mainstream living would not necessarily?
Intentional living is waking up in the morning and asking ourselves, “What do I feel called to do today?”
It’s embracing grace for our everyday lives and living freely: free from the chains of sin, free from the chains of people-pleasing and perfection and living according to others’ expectations.
Nobody else can fully know the heart God has put inside of you, but you can know it.
You can know that you might not be doing what everyone thinks you should be doing, but what you know is right for you to be doing.
You have passions for a reason.
You have gifts.
You have talents.
You have amazing opportunities, right in front of you.
And you have a God that wants to use you exactly where you are.
When we are intentional – intentional with what we say, what we choose to do, who we decide to surround ourselves with – we can get to know what God has for us specifically to do.
That’s not always mystical; oftentimes, it’s in the simple things, like caring for siblings, spending time with friends that need a listening ear, taking extra time to meditate on the Word of God, to be prepared for the question a coworker is going to ask.
Purpose is about being in prayer, communion with God. It’s about being aware of the situations around us, listening to what the Holy Spirit leads us to do in the small moments. And it’s about being open to what God has for us in the day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year.
Sometimes, that means saying yes to scary things, those big things that force us to take a large leap and call upon immense faith.
And other times, that means saying no to good things so we can say yes to better things at later times.
Sometimes, it means being okay with not finishing the to-do list because impacting those around us was much more important than cleaning out the closet.
Purpose, passion, intentionality – they all take many forms, and to define purpose as one specific entity would be self-contradicting.
In all of it, we must look at what we believe to be our own life purpose; what we feel called to do at this time in our lives, according to the things God has placed on our hearts.
Maybe it’s reinforced by gazing upon a wall plaque with a well-thought-out personal Life Purpose Statement.
Or maybe not.
Maybe it’s looking at a few sentences scrawled in your journal to inspire you in the mornings.
Or perhaps, even, tangible purpose to you is just a modest sticky-note with a little memo written day by day, such as, “Encourage a friend today.”
Being intentional is vital, because without it, we let life slip through our fingers and leave us to wander around, wondering if we’re doing what’s right.
But we don’t have to any longer.
We can cultivate our days and years in the choices we make in the small moments. In the things we choose to do under the labels we have. In the conversations we have, the jobs we take, the classes we enroll in, the decisions we make – let us live with purpose in everything.
Let us do what we feel called to do.
Let us truly live, and seek to please God alone.
And that, friends, is the foundation for purpose.