Purpose isn’t easy

I’ve read post after post lately where a mom laments that her life feels empty and devoid of purpose. In almost every case, the writer blames motherhood.

I understand how the writer feels, I’ve felt the same way. But I believe it has nothing to do with being a mom.

purpose isn't easy

It doesn’t take kids to feel empty and devoid of purpose.

Way back before marriage and kids, I sat through several corporate training sessions on how to create a personal mission statement and set long term goals. It was the expensive workshop with a paper planner system.

I’ll be honest. I hated it.

Most of the people in the room had all these different roles they played — employee, spouse, parent, volunteer, friend. They used those to develop a really interesting set of long term goals and a mission statement.

My roles were a little more limited — employee, cat owner, daughter. I pretty much got up, went to work, and went home. By Sunday afternoons, I was looking forward to work because I was lonely. (Sad, but true.)

My life felt empty. It wasn’t fulfilling. I felt like I had no purpose because I had no purpose.

Expecting me to write and prioritize my goals and write a big old mission statement was ridiculous. My entire life was so out of balance (and sad and pathetic) that it was a totally inappropriate task.

Going through the goal setting workshop only highlighted the problem.

In reality, my mission statement and goals felt pretty straight forward and simple.

Get a better life.

It fit on a 3×5 card. It wasn’t elegant, but it was all I needed.

But having kids doesn’t fix that.

I’m not trying to say that “get a better life” equates to getting married, having children, and becoming a stay at home mom.

Purpose and passion don’t work that way.

Motherhood didn’t come with an immediate sense of fulfillment or purpose or passion for me. I didn’t find diaper duty (particularly doodie duty) fulfilling. I couldn’t muster passion about making sure my baby was dressed in the whitest whites.

In the ten years I’ve been a mom, there have been times when I felt like my mission statement was really straight forward because it still read

Get a better life.

I was right back to the same problem I had back in the fancy corporate workshop.

My life felt empty. It wasn’t fulfilling. I felt like I had no purpose because I had no purpose.

I’m not ashamed.

I’m not ashamed to admit that there are times I’ve struggled with finding purpose or joy or peace as a wife or mother. I’ve shared a good portion of that early journey in my Surprised by Motherhood post (warning, that one will make you cry.)

Feeling directionless, empty, and lost comes with the territory.

I don’t blame motherhood.

I don’t think you should either.

When my life has felt empty and devoid of purpose, it had nothing to with my kids. Motherhood didn’t steal the meaning from my life.

Meaning – whether you call it significance or purpose or passion –  isn’t an external thing. It can’t be granted (or stolen) based on the roles we play in life.

My meaning comes from knowing that I am living the life that God called me to live and being who I was created to be.  I know that God has a plan and a purpose for my life. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When I lose sight of that, it has nothing to do with motherhood.

Where do you find your purpose?

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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Comments

  1. I appreciate your honesty and I agree with you. We all need to find our own purpose and not rely on others (our children, grandchildren, husbands) to provide it for us. That being said, one of the greatest joys of my life is to help out my family members. I find it is important, though, to balance that with doing stuff for myself, too. Is that selfish?

    • Mo, I find a great deal of satisfaction out of my roles as wife and mother. I believe it IS possible to find those roles fulfilling and satisfying, especially when my heart is in the right place.

      I came to motherhood later in life. I was 38 and 39 when the boys were born. I have the perspective of a lot of childless adult living that many people don’t get until their kids leave the nest. I speak with experience. Stay at home moms don’t have a monopoly on being dissatisfied with their life, with an aching pit of loneliness, with a drifting sense of purpose… etc. Unfortunately, many women hit that feeling of emptiness / loneliness for the first time when they are at home with two kids all day. They don’t have the perspective to understand that motherhood isn’t to blame. People of all seasons of life hit the empty lonely pit.

      Part of the way out of pit is that balance thing. It’s finding a way to have a space to do stuff for self. It isn’t selfish. It’s the way to refuel your soul so that you can pour yourself out all over again.

      Does that make sense?

      • It makes perfect sense. Taking time for yourself makes you a happier/healthier/more sane person. I guess it is sort of the “life” version of putting on your own oxygen mask on a plane before helping those around you.

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