If you know the purpose of your life, you’re one of the lucky ones! The rest of us are searching for and renewing our life purposes. Just when I think I knew the purpose of my life, bam. God zigs right and I’m left scrambling. Luckily He always waits for me to catch up.
This article—Renewing Your Purpose With Esther—is a companion to the eighth chapter in my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back. That’s where I share my story of the home invasion and attempted rape (scary). I weave Queen Esther’s story of blossoming from Hadassah to the Queen of Persia and saving the entire Jewish race from extermination (scary on a whole different level!).
What scary things are you dealing with? Maybe nothing. Maybe you’re just trying to find the purpose of your life. Maybe you’re doing a little bit of both: figuring out how to move into a new future and dealing with ghosts of the past. You are not alone. That’s what growing forward is all about.
A Glimpse of Esther’s Story
Before she became Queen Esther, she was a Jewish orphan girl called Hadassah. We don’t know what happened to her parents, how old she was when she lost them, or if she was with them when they died. We don’t know if she had brothers or sisters.
We don’t know if Hadassah ever struggled with the thought that her life had no purpose or meaning…but we know that as Queen Esther, she was focused and disciplined.
Before Hadassah blossomed into Queen Esther, the king of Persia—Xerxes—banished his sitting queen. Queen Vashti refused to parade her beauty before his guests at a wine-soaked feast that had started seven days earlier. After Xerxes tossed Vashti aside (a move she may have welcomed), he needed a new queen. Hundreds of girls were brought to the palace to audition.
Our Biblical sister Hadassah was included, but nobody knew she was Jewish. She spent a year in the harem undergoing beauty rituals, royal training, and a complete identity change. That was the purpose of her life. She was being prepared for one night and one goal: to meet and please the king. To be the chosen queen.
Hadassah was transformed into Esther, and she was more beautiful and agreeable than all the other harem girls and concubines. Esther pleased Xerxes and was crowned queen of Persia, which filled her life with unforeseen, unexpected responsibilities and stress. If she felt sad about not having her own home or family, she grieved quietly. If she wasn’t thrilled about her new life purpose, she told no one.
Our Biblical sister Esther was facing an unknown future as a Jewish girl hiding her true identity in a Persian kingdom. If she was anxious or afraid, she hid it well.
The Attempted Rape – Laurie’s Story
In Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back I describe what happened when a man broke into my apartment in the middle of the night and attempted to rape me. This is a painful and often shameful topic for many women. If you need support, start with How to Tell Someone You Were Sexually Abused as a Child.
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How does this relate to renewing your life purpose? Before you can focus on your future, you need to square with your past. Before you can figure out the purpose of your life and renew your perspective, you need to deal with the ghosts that haunt you.
Some women aren’t comfortable talking about their experiences with sexual assault, but I never had a problem talking about the attempted rape. It was easy for me to talk about, and even blog about (How I Survived an Attempted Rape in My Bedroom). My childhood secrets felt more embarrassing and stigmatizing, and I worked hard to hide them.
I share my secrets in Growing Forward because I learned why I always struggled with worthlessness, shame, and inferiority. And I realize how much energy it took to hide my secrets. You are hiding secrets from your past, stuff you don’t want to talk about. And those secrets will stop you from finding or renewing your life purpose.
How did I heal? Many small ways, but mostly by finding the balance between actively building a relationship with God and quietly receiving healing from the Holy Spirit. I experienced regular growth spurts, too, which I describe in Growing Forward’s Blossom Tips.
My identity changed—but not overnight. It was a gradual process of healing, with unexpected bursts of new growth and fresh blossoms. I also discovered how hard Satan works to burden us with secrets, shame and guilt. The devil wants us to hide and huddle in the dark.
What secrets are you hiding? What is the purpose of your life? How will you find renewal and restoration?
Share your big or little thoughts in the comments section below. Writing is healthy, especially if you feel confused, sad, scared or lost. It can help you make sense of your experiences and untangle your emotions.
Questions From Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back
At the end of every chapter are Questions for Journaling and Discussion that are directly related to that chapter’s Blossom Tips. Readers are invited to come here and share their thoughts.
The questions in Esther’s chapter:
- What Then?: How do you deal with fear and anxiety? What stops you from relying on Jesus with 100 percent faith and trust?
- Your Secrets: What secrets are you keeping out of fear or shame? Which ones do you share openly? Describe how it might feel to tell a secret you’ve never told.
- God’s Secrets: Where and when are you most overwhelmed by God’s creativity and imagination?
- Fast Times: What is your experience with fasting? Did it change you or your relationship with God?
- Labels: What do you have trouble believing or accepting about yourself? When have you walked away from opportunities you were afraid to pursue?
Feel free to answer these questions in the comments section below. Or share anything that’s on your mind, about anything you’d like! You are welcome here.
About Growing Forward…
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back offers a fresh, practical perspective on moving through loss. I share stories of contemporary and biblical women who transcended extraordinary pain and grief. I weave in my own experiences of growing up with a single schizophrenic mother, living in foster care, and then coping with infertility.
- Accept—and even embrace—a new season of life.
- Take small steps forward in practical, creative, delightful ways.
- Weave faith, trust, and hope into your heart, thoughts, and daily lives.
At the end you’ll have 50 Blossom Tips for moving forward after a loss. Each activity highlights a different aspect of who we are: spirit, heart, soul, body, and brain. This holistic approach ensures the whole self is addressed by incorporating spiritual, emotional, creative, physical, and intellectual growth.
Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back is a comforting, encouraging book for women walking into a new season of life…which also makes it a great gift for women coping with death, divorce, or a difficult diagnosis.
In peace and passion,
P.S. Here’s the full list of Growing Forward articles here on “She Blossoms.” These aren’t the actual chapters of the book, they’re just our meeting places.
Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.
How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.
- Recreating and Replanting With Eve
- Sprouting With Sarah
- Digging Deeper With Hagar
- Uprooting With Naomi
- Starting Fresh With Ruth
- Growing Roots With Martha and Mary
- Reviving Your Heart With Hannah
- Renewing Your Purpose With Esther
- Growing Forward With Mary Magdalene
- Blossoming Into Life With Mary