Some of the my biggest turning points have happened while staring at a blank piece of paper.
At 18, I came to know Jesus while staring at a blank piece of paper. A story for another day.
18 years later, this past August, I started the most transforming year of my life, staring at another blank piece of paper.
45 strangers in the room. Each pausing in their career or transitioning from one place to another. Many had left behind foreign lands where they’d poured out their lives for decades. A number were seeking new professional paths. Some anticipated Orlando might become home.
45 strangers, instructed to each fill their paper with needs and expectations for the year. Each of the 45 had a vision, a longing, a hope. Each had a story. Each had a purpose.
Except me. I started at that blank piece of paper for over an hour.
If the currency was purpose, I had nothing to my name.
Why in the world did we do this? We sold the only home our kids had ever known, drove 2 carloads of possessions across the country to live in a concrete box, surrounded by 45 “new friends” and scheduled to sit through hours of development we aren’t sure we even need. Why.are.we.here?
There were reasons. But, when it came down to it, they were about my husband.
And there he was, scrawling purpose all over his page.
But, why was I here?
I had no clue.
I tossed up a “do whatever you want, God” sort of prayer and stuffed my paper in the envelope. When we open them this weekend, everyone will ooh and ahh over their August-selves and how far they’ve come and how the year has reflected those purposes.
I will have nothing to read. I literally left it blank.
I arrived with no idea why I was here. If reasons hadn’t come, if discovery hadn’t happened, it would have been a painfully long year. I would have survived and returned “home” full of complaints and busting with attitude.
Instead, I was humbled by purpose.
Shortly after that blank paper day, this verse became my banner:
For here we do not have an enduring city,
but we are looking for the city that is to come.
Orlando was not my permanent home just as this world was not my permanent home. Amidst that realization and lens, I received a shot at understanding why I was here (in Orlando) as God showed me why I was here (on earth).
Purpose is a beautiful thing. For some, it is a culmination of their passions. For many, a natural conclusion to their story. For most, an overflow of their core values. For all, a map for their adventure.
The purpose of my year in the temporary has unfolded in unexpected ways into a beautiful story that the remainder of my life will tell.
As I’ve seen my purpose in the temporary unfold, I’ve reflected on how to better understand my purpose in this world as I await my “enduring city.”
I’ve considered this passage:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Purpose. Making the most of every opportunity. Wise.
This year was my opportunity and thanks to some folks, I didn’t unconsciously slide through it without making the most of it.
In the grander picture of life, it would be easy to coast til the end. Living as though this world is all there is and then slipping into the nicer side of eternity on a certificate of fire insurance.
But, I’ve been given a chance to live on purpose. This world is #notmyhome, but it’s my opportunity to make the most of life.
That’s purpose that can fill any blank piece of paper.
Part 1: Passing Through
Part 2: Homesicking
[This post is #3 in the #notmyhome series]
Part 4: Familiaring
Part 5: Identifying
Part 6: Hoarding
Part 7: Simplifying
Part 8: Investing
Part 9: Sojourning
Part 10: Borrowing
Part 11: Departing
Part 12: Reflecting