As a new mom, my brain -- and web browser -- has been flooded with every baby gadget, toy, tool and Pinterest solution that the wonderful world of social media has to offer. Time and time again, I come across something that I consider a future #momgoal -- like the bento lunch boxes prepared with impressive displays of fruits, vegetables, bite-sized sandwiches and of course, desserts. Who knew that this pleasantly partitioned box could take on the appeal of a Michelin-star restaurant?
For some reason, I am drawn to these images, not because I have the intention of making each of my meals reflect this style of preparation. But because these lunch boxes have become a metaphor for my life, a simple tool to help me dive deeper into my purpose and exploration of who God created me to be.
These tiny boxes and their perfectly placed sections create a way for me to understand and break down the intimidating idea of “purpose” into tangible, bite-sized pieces. They represent an opportunity to discover the different qualities, characteristics, talents and passions that come together to create the greater whole of who I am. They represent the beauty of finding balance, creating healthy boundaries and the importance of devoting the time and attention to creatively exploring these different facets of my life.
After a lifetime of living with anxiety, seasons of depression and various challenges, I’ve realized that we can often see ourselves and our purpose as a rudimentary brown bag lunch -- not too sure what’s inside, not very appealing from the outside. We may have a challenging time identifying what makes us unique and valuable. We may begin to question how or why God would ever want to use someone like us. Maybe we even tell ourselves that our struggles and our experiences prevent us from having anything significant to offer.
Let me tell you this…
"YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU HAVE WORTH."
You have talents, qualities, passions and hobbies that may be hard to see right now, but God has purposely instilled these in you and is ready for you to use them! Learning about ourselves and discovering how God has uniquely equipped and created us is often the first step towards believing that we have been made for a purpose and that our story has incredible value.
So, where do we even begin?
Here are three ways to begin to explore God’s purpose for your life:
1. Pack your lunch
The idea of purpose is intimidating and often feels out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be! Starting with the idea of the bento-inspired lunch box can help us take the seemingly out-of-reach concept of purpose and break it down into the smaller, more tangible pieces of our lives. And guess what? You can begin this today!
Start by creating the different sections that will make up your new lunchbox (e.g., your talents, unique qualities, passions and hobbies, things that inspire you and role models). And don’t forget to create a category for things you’ve always wanted to try (you’ll see why in point #2)! Next, start listing everything that comes to mind for these different categories.
Even though it sometimes feels uncomfortable to list things about yourself, don’t hold back! These are the very characteristics that make you uniquely you.
2. Try a new flavor
Remember the category of activities or practices you’ve always wanted to try? Well, this is your time to get creative and fill it up! We are all in process as we grow, explore and learn about what makes us unique.
One of the ways we can continue to learn about ourselves is to try new things! Maybe you’ve been wanting to try an art class or even attempt gardening for the first time. Has that new hiking trail or opportunity to serve at the local food pantry been calling your name?
Take time today to brainstorm one new thing to try this week in order to help you discover possible unknown talents, passions and hobbies!
3. Chew slowly
As much as we want to conquer the world in one day, it’s important to start small! Many of us know from experience that it’s one thing to create a list of ideas and another to successfully and consistently put them into practice.
Creating a simple plan can help us move from preparation into action. Choose one new area (e.g., talents, unique qualities, passions/hobbies, etc.) and write down how you plan to explore that area further this week.
What resources and support will you need to make it happen (e.g., I will explore my passion for painting. I will need art supplies and a new work area)?
How are you taking steps of faith to discover your talents, unique qualities, passions and hobbies?