I walked out of the school yard for the last time and got in my car. My heart felt light and I was excited about what was ahead. Was this the right decision? It felt like it. Actually, the entire school year was stressful. I juggled motherhood, teaching, and writing for ten months!!
Talk about crazy town!
I sat in my car and let out a deep sigh. “Lord, you know all things. I trust I made the right decision.” And with that silent prayer, I put my foot on the gas and started my indefinite teacher vacation.
Why Ask Why?
Why am I here? It’s the question most people ask themselves when they feel lost. Not the kind of lost that makes you call in the search party. No. There’s no search party that can find you when you feel like you’ve lost yourself.
And I think we’re asking the wrong “why’ question. I don’t think we need to ask ourselves why we’re here. I think we need to ask ourselves, “Why am I living this life?”
The Dreaded Question
Last summer (only 1 month after I left my teaching job), I sat in my reading and writing room and I asked myself, “Why are you doing this?” I didn’t know how to answer that question. To be honest, I should have asked myself that question over a year ago.
But I didn’t want to. I hated the WHY question.
Last year, I was at a writers conference in North Carolina. I went to one session after the other trying to figure out why I was there. And the speaker at every session kept telling us to find our why.
Why? It seemed like a waste of time to me. I thought I knew why I was at the writer’s conference … I wrote something. Isn’t that good enough?
What I didn’t know was that I was going to find out the answer to that question real quick.
The Summer of 2019
So here I was in my reading room and I literally felt like I came to a fork in the road .. or a Y, depending on which direction the forks go. Anyway, I had a decision to make.
Why did I quit my teaching job to write and start a podcast? Why am I going into ministry when people are mean and dislike you for serving God?
And there it was!! The “why” question was staring me in the face. It demanded an answer. I couldn’t avoid it any longer, so I did what I should have done more than a year ago … I faced the question and I wrestled with it.
And here’s what I’ve learned.
Why Should I Answer Why?
When you first meet someone and introduce yourselves, what’s one of the first things they ask you? Or what’s one of the first things you ask them? “What is it you do?”
Your “why” is the reason you do what you do. Out of all of the questions we face everyday regarding our occupation, our hobbies and our family, marriage or relationships … “why” you do those things is never talked about. We don’t have to think about the “why”.
We are so used to telling people what we do because it puts us in a category, or a class. Our what defines us and it’s the first thing we tell others about ourselves.
“Oh, I’m a 5th grade teacher.” Well, that’s what I used to be. And I felt good about my status in society. My what made me proud because I did my job well.
But I soon realized my what began to steal my identity. And because being a teacher became the definition I clung to, I lost myself when I walked away.
And it left me asking why?
Your Why Doesn’t Define You … It Drives You
I understand now why the speakers at the writer’s conference suggested we find our why. It’s what drives us to make hard decisions. It’s what our beliefs are founded on.
It keeps us from lingering at the crosswords for too long because trust me, we will have many crossroads in our lives. But when we know why we’re here and understand God’s purpose for our lives, we won’t let what we do define who we are.
Your What Will Change
I hate to break it to you, but your “what” may change. Mine has over the years. And I’m not gonna lie … sometimes it’s hard. We become known for what we do. And that’s what makes it hard to walk away.
But have you ever thought about why you do what you do? Is it because you love it? Is it because it’s your dream job? Maybe what you do isn’t what you love anymore, but because you don’t have a “why” that drives you, you can’t change your what.
Is your identity wrapped up in the thing you do?
I get it! I do. And that’s why I had to take it to the Lord in prayer. I had to ask God why. Because finding our why helps us find our purpose.
What Does God Say?
I want to let you in on a little secret: God doesn’t define you by what you do. God cares more about our motives, or why we do what we do, than He does our what.
How do I know? Good question.
If you read the story of King David, he had many “whats” in life. He started as a shepherd, then a harp player, then a soldier, and finally a king. He didn’t allow what he did to define who he was.
So that brings us to the next question: who was David?
God Himself tells us who David is in 1 Samuel 13:14. He defines him as “a man after God’s own heart.” God didn’t refer to him as a shepherd, or a harp player or a king. He looked into his heart and saw his motivation. And that is why God made him a king.
David’s “why” drove him from the shepherd field to the throne of Israel. His why helped guide every decision at the crossroads of his life. What he did was just a reflection of who he was.
What he did did not define him. Why he did it told the world who he was.
Find Your Why, Find Your Purpose
Don’t allow what you do to define you. Ask yourself why you do what you do. And if you don’t know, do what I did and take it before the Lord. You may have to wrestle with it for a while.
But, once you figure it out, you’re on your way to finding your why and your purpose.
For today’s challenge, I have three suggestions for you:
1) Ask yourself why you do what you do. If you don’t know, take it before the Lord and get your answer.
2) Make sure your why aligns with your what. If the answer to your why question is not satisfactory, maybe you need to evaluate what you do.
3) Listen to episode 1 of Her Faith Inspires podcast. You’re going to love the tips I give so you don’t get lost in what you do.
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