My first steps out my house on my first run at 41 were exhilarating. As much as I hate running, I essentially began to skip. I stopped myself as I didn’t want a neighbor to see me and call 911. But, just getting out of the house brought immense freedom. I felt victorious. I had the eye of the tiger!
That is, until I got to the corner. Maybe my block is extra long – longer than the normal block. With my house still in view, the “tiger eye thing” was replaced with fire, lot’s and lot’s of fire. Victory so quickly turned to shame. And, after only one more block I… quit. It took longer to get dressed than to run. I considered going home. But, I couldn’t bear to see my wife after the skipping and all.
So, I walked. I walked quite a while. I was frustrated, discouraged, and out of breath. But, something wonderful happened during that walk. A question rattled around in my exhausted brain: “Why?” “Jon, what is the real reason you are doing this?”
If it wasn’t odd enough to imagine me skipping, now picture an overweight, sweaty, middle-aged man talking to himself. I walked, talked, prayed, and mostly wrestled with “why.” I realized I needed a “why?” Over the coming days, months, and even years, running really hasn’t become all that easy for me. I hurt. I have struggled with injury. The weather is always too cold, too wet, or too hot. The sun sets to early or too late. The mornings are too morning-ey. My schedule is too packed, it’s too hard on my family, etc. I’m sure you get it.
“Why” is the only thing that keeps me going.
Why is the only thing that keeps you going. And “why” is necessary. You see, we are wired for purpose. We need a clear vision of the purpose and we need to keep it bright.
And that is no easy chore.
Discovering your WHY:
1. Let pain be your guide.
In my experience, the majority of change begins with pain. Rarely do people change from sheer joy, pleasure, or curiosity. Typically, change is motivated by the necessity of sheer pain. And that’s ok! In fact it’s more than ok – it’s the place where real change is always birthed. So in the early stages let pain (disappointment, discouragement) initiate change – but it’s Purpose that will keep you changing. Purpose isn’t needed to get started, but it is essential to keep going.
2. Clear the closets
I mentioned “discovering one’s purpose.” For most of us, we have never really lost our purpose. Sadly purpose just gets buried. Purpose gets hazy as we collect bills, responsibilities, relationships, unmet expectations, etc. So clear out the junk by asking yourself a couple of questions: What if you let everybody down and failed at everything…except one thing? If you could only succeed in one thing what would that be? – that’s a closet clearer!
3. What will God say?
Truthfully, life is terribly short. One day I will stand in front of God. What will be important to God and to me when I’m standing before Him? This will take some reading. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you will find. (let me suggest starting with Matt 6)
4. What do the closest people in your life need that you provide?
I’m not an accident. The people in my life are not there by a mere accident either. Discovering my purpose is not an activity that exempts my closest circle. I may struggle to find my unique contribution in this world, but they don’t struggle to see it. You might even ask them. But, my guess: you already know.
Where there is no vision, the people decay… Proverbs 29:18
My knees often ache, the weather rarely co-operates, and I’m still so very slow. Yet the WHY keeps me going.
Oh, and my “why”…
- Honor God with energy in His ministry.
- To love my wife and kids.
- I have elk to hunt. (I still got to have fun)
Do you know your “why?”