Our souls need purpose like a balloon needs helium. Without it, gravity drags the stretched latex back down to earth and every slow bounce becomes a march towards the end. What was once a symbol of celebration transforms into an omen of demise.
We don’t often consider our need for purpose. But it’s there, built into our design.
As we drive by a sign on the road with half the letters missing, our brains scramble to fill in the missing pieces. Someone posts a graphic of a pattern on their Facebook feed and it teases our eyes to search for the broken link. A tragedy occurs and the first question people start to ask is, “Why?”
The human brain was designed to look for purpose, to make connections, and find the deeper meaning. And yet, we fight against it.
Probably for lots of reasons but maybe because recognizing purpose is inviting accountability. It admits that there is something worth sacrificing for. And sacrifice is never as appealing for our own lives as it is admirable in someone else’s.
As I’ve spent time studying the art of storytelling, I’ve become convinced that great stories are built on a compelling purpose. They don’t just entertain for entertainment’s sake. Stories that grip our hearts and imaginations resonate with a purpose that demands the hero sacrifices everything to attain it.
Katniss offers herself as tribute in order to protect her sister’s life.
Harry embraces his own death in order to stop Voldemort and his reign of terror.
Frodo undertakes an epic journey in order to destroy the Ring and the power it wields.
A story worth telling and its underlying purpose are inseparable. Great stories begin with a larger than life purpose.
I’m passionate about telling stories that help people live out a better real life story. It translates into a lot of time thinking about where I’m leading people. Like the driver of a vehicle taking people on an epic adventure, there needs to be a plan for where I’m going and the route I’ll take to get there. It’s not okay to tell the passengers I’ll figure it out along the way.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re also a storyteller.
You are living out a story with your life. As the protagonist, you either choose to embrace purpose and the sacrifices it requires or you slink away, letting another rise in your place. Your story becomes a tale of epic adventure, complete with defeats and victories, struggle and pain, beauty and reward. Or it fades into the library of human history as a story that existed but failed to make its mark.
I think all of us want to live a great story. Deep down, we want to be part of something awesome. But surviving sometimes gets in the way.
We get caught up in all the things pulling for our attention, distracted by mind-numbing entertainment that temporarily eases the pressure of living, and lost inside subplots that are leading toward a dead-end.
I want to encourage you to rediscover your purpose. Or maybe discover it for the first time. Where are you headed? What in our life is worth sacrificing for?
There should be an overarching purpose. But like branches stemming from the main trunk, purpose stretches into every area of our lives. Parenting. Health. Marriage. Finances. Schooling. Each subplot has a purpose that echoes the main theme of our life’s story.
Pausing to define purpose helps you decide what makes it into your story. Because a great story is as much about what you put into it as what you leave out of it. If you’re going to make it to the end destination, you can’t take every exit along the way. You have to know where you’re going and be intentional about making decisions that take you there.
Maria Robinson is quoted as saying, “No one can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and create a new ending.”
I believe God wants to write an epic story through your life. No matter what has happened in the past you can start today with inviting God to reveal purpose and lead you on a journey of becoming the person He designed you to be
This blog post is part of a creative writing small group through Sun City Church. If you’d like to follow along with the upcoming posts in this series, you can subscribe to the feed by adding your email in the upper right-hand corner.
And if you’re interested in being part of the online conversations about Creative Writing and Storytelling then join us in our newly formed Facebook group. You don’t need to be part of the small group or Sun City Church to join.