Maybe you once knew the purpose of your life but you lost it. Or perhaps you never figured out why God created you or what you should do in this world. You want to find your life purpose, but you don’t know how.
These tips will help you find clarity and insight, whether you’re figuring out the meaning of your life or re-discovering your lost sense of life purpose. You may not find specific tips on what to do next, but you will learn that you’re not alone. We humans have struggled to find and stay focused on the purpose of life for thousands of years…and most of our grief, wandering lost in the wilderness, and crying out has been needlessly long.
“I want women to remember that when life leaves them alone on the tarmac – whether it be the devastating loss of a loved one, the shuttering of a lifelong dream – women can always learn to walk again,” says author Jackie Speier in When Your Life Has No Purpose or Meaning. “I am living proof that women can reinvent and rebuild their lives, no matter what hardships they have faced.”
Figuring out what to do when you lose your life purpose depends — in part — on the reason for your loss. For example, you may be a widow who needs help starting over in your 60s after your husband dies. Your approach will be different than a woman who is struggling to find God’s will for her life. Finding your lost sense of life purpose is different than for a woman who feels guilty about starting a new relationship after leaving her marriage.
Good news! No matter who you are or why you’re looking for tips on what to do after losing your purpose, there is common ground for us all. You might call Him a solid rock — a bedrock, a firm foundation, a fortress and high tower. Fly to Jesus, and He will help you find or discover your lost sense of life purpose.
When You Lose the Purpose of Your Life
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. These tips for finding a lost sense of life purpose are inspired by Exodus 17.
1. Leave the Wilderness of Sin
“The entire Israelite community left the Wilderness of Sin, moving from one place to the next according to the Lord’s command,” writes Moses (or a scribe) in Exodus 17:1. “They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.” Our Hebrew friends wandered in the desert for 40 years, living on God’s daily bread (manna) and waiting for Him to lead them on. They had no choice. Moses was their leader; all he and the Israelites could do was wait for God. God led the Israelites out of the Wilderness of Sin, but it wasn’t quite the Promised Land. The Israelites couldn’t choose their location, destination, quality of life or next step…but the Israelites could choose how they responded to what happened to them.
What wilderness are you wandering in? I lived in Africa for three years, teaching grade 8 and high school journalism at an American school for missionaries’ and ex-pats’ kids. It was the wilderness. I was lost, out of my depth as a teacher, scared as a single Canadian woman in Nairobi, disconnected to the community around me. I was in the wilderness spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially. I felt like I lost my life purpose, and I didn’t know what to do. The school offered free counseling for teachers, so I saw a psychologist every week for nine months. She helped me get out of the wilderness, renew my purpose and grow forward in my life. Not everyone wants or needs counseling to help them find their life purpose, but we all need someone to walk with. Who are your kindred spirits, fellow believers, life partners?
2. Go back to the beginning
“The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14. God gave Moses those instructions after the battle of the Amalekites. Why? To help the Israelites remember their purpose in life, their calling as God’s children, the reason they were created. God chose the Israelites before He created them. God knew they were weak and prone to grumbling. He knew life wouldn’t be easy for them — and He knew He couldn’t make life easy for them. He already tried that in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. If the Israelites remembered why they were created, they wouldn’t lose their life purpose so easily. They’d know what to do.
What is your “in the beginning”? Maybe it was when you first decided to follow Jesus into the wilderness. Maybe it was when you first found your life purpose — or when you realized you have no sense of purpose in your life. Maybe your beginning was when you lost your life purpose and started struggling with what to do, where to go, how to be, who to be with. My “in the beginning” was realizing I wanted to life a Big Life with Exciting Adventures in Interesting Places. And then when life got hard in Africa, I forgot my life purpose. Instead of going back to the beginning and remembering what God was doing in and for me, I sunk.
3. Lean on fellow believers
“When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.” – Exodus 17:12-13. Clearly, Moses needed his companions to win. Moses had God his side, yet he needed fellow believers! Also, earlier in Exodus 17 Moses took some of the elders of Israel when he went ahead of the Israelites to struck the rock with the staff so water would come out. Moses needed God, and he needed his fellow believers to support him as he led the Israelites toward the Promised Land.
Who is walking you into the sunset? One of my biggest mistakes in Africa was not relying more on friends. My best friend was Trina; we’d walk to the Village every couple of weeks, or have dinner together. She had a little green Suzuki she called the Lima Bean, which she drove us to Bible Study at Mark’s every week. She played the guitar and was really scattered, messy and disorganized. Trina made my life in Africa deeper, more meaningful, and more fun. She was my support system, my companion and friend. She didn’t tell me what to do when I lost my life purpose, nor did she solve all my problems. Trina was simply my friend, and that was all I needed.
Turn off your phone. Take time to think about what you want and need to do now. Maybe you haven’t lost your life purpose; maybe you just need to be quiet and still in the presence of God. Maybe you hear Jesus calling and feel the Holy Spirit nudging you in one direction or another. Be silent and still. Maybe your life purpose is to simply listen, wait, and move forward slowly, one step at a time.
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.