It’s amazing how so many things great, but mostly small, can be the things that distract enough to derail us from the great and remarkable things that our lives are purposed for. Some would call it destiny, some call it calling, I like to think of it as DNA.
There are some things that I am just created to do.
One of those things that I feel like is a big part of who I am knit together to be, is a learner. I wish that I could let you peer into my soul for a moment to really be able to give an accurate picture of what that means to me and the ways that learning makes me come alive. It feels a little bit like the way you feel when you see a beautiful sunset, or smell the ocean as it whips your hair, or the way that I imagine it would feel having stood on the edge of the titanic with arms outstretched (maybe a little dramatic but I think you get the picture). If you have found the things that make you feel alive, then you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about- and for me that is learning.
My love for learning has only been longest accompanied and challenged by my love for adventure. If you could transport me every month to a new city to learn some fantastic thing about the world I honestly think I might die by my heart exploding (again with the drama, geez).
Its actually funny too, because the thing that made me realize that learning was such a core value of mine, was looking back. Now if you have never taken the time to look back- at jobs, opportunities, relationships, family- to recognize the patterns and themes I’d highly recommend it. You are the expert of yourself, and your life and choices teach you more about you than you can learn in school or from your therapist.
I was sitting in my new fancy customer service job, and also stepping into a leadership role in ministry and just happened to be going through the book Dare to Lead by Brene Brown with our team at work. We got to the portion of the book where she talks about identifying and living out your core values and I struggled. When you are somehow supposed to look at a list of 100 words and choose 2, 3 tops, that define your core values it gets really tricky. It feels a little bit like going to the candy store and being told you can only choose one candy for the rest of your life. JUST LET ME HAVE IT ALL! I LIKE ALL THE WORDS! I felt a little obligated to choose words like faith or kindness, ya know, because those are good things to choose right?
So, like the analyst and introspective person that I am, I started thinking through my last several jobs and what in them made me want to move on or made me feel restless, as well as what had been the moments that I felt most alive and thriving in those places.
The first thing that stuck out to me about my previous job? The accounting courses I took to be better at my job.
Accounting? Really Desiree?
How in the world did accounting make me feel alive?? You ask the question and so did I- as I laughed at myself.
If you have known me for any length of time, the idea that I would be fascinated by accounting may or may not come as a surprise. And truthfully, as I mentioned, it surprised me as well in my reflection. But it wasn’t the numbers of it or the methodology, or predictability of it. One piece of the puzzle rarely tells the whole story.
The next piece of the puzzle that I took into account was grad school. I had taken on a masters program in counseling, going to night school after long days at the office and working on homework often till late, though nowhere near as often as I should have. For a season, that brought the same feelings of being alive that work had brought me back in the accounting certificate days lol.
As I looked back over different jobs, I began to see the threads of pursuing new things and throwing myself into learning. I looked back and realized that in so many ways, I was never satisfied when the learning period was over. Every job has a learning curve, and once I’d reach the end of it I was ready to throw myself in somewhere else where I was a rookie and start the learning process over again. And if there was nothing else to learn I began to feel that restlessness to move on, or at least to do something crazy like pursue a masters degree after working 60 hours a week…..
The moments I felt most alive and excited were those in which I was learning
Funny side note to any Christians out there, notice that the way you relate to God and pursue him is so intertwined with the way you pursue and relate to the world around you. For instance, I enjoy worship services and the beautiful music and all of that, but I have been moved to worship in far more profound (for me) moments as I am studying the Bible and trying to understand it and learn about God. Who we are, our DNA, isn’t limited or separated by “secular” or Christian. The threads of purpose and destiny are woven throughout your life in beautiful ways that are the same throughout all the fleeting circumstances of our lives.
So here I am, 100 words in front of me, and thinking through the moments and causes that drive me, awaken me, pursue me. And I have it. Learning and connection. Those are my two core values. Now that its been a year I think I’d add in problem solving or some more eloquent word along those lines. But learning and connection are definitely things that are so core to who I am, to my DNA, to my purpose and my destiny.
Here’s the real tricky part though. I think so many of us spend so much time in pursuit of destiny and purpose and calling for our lives, that we never actually take the time to think about what we then do when we begin to recognize it.
That’s the point at which I found myself this evening. For those who don’t know, I currently live out on a farm. Apart from the dogs barking and the sounds of the geese and chickens, it’s a pretty peaceful life. And come sundown or sunrise it can be incredibly beautiful. I had made a run to the store for a few items and sat on my couch looking out the window. I had my phone in hand with some meaningless Netflix show playing for the you-don’t-even-want-to-know-how-many-episodes this week. And as I sat there on my couch, inside my house, watching yet another episode, I realized this.
I am allowing the things I use to numb, to fill my time, rather than using the time to pursue the things that make me come alive. The things that don’t just “get me through” but that excite me and get me out of bed everyday. The things that my soul longs for when I don’t do them.
- Being outdoors (currently writing this from my front porch overlooking the fields while the dogs nuzzle me for pets)
- Adventuring. Literally anywhere
- Learning (I have a couple of coding programs and an IT certificate I’m currently working on)
- Writing. That’s a whole other topic for a different day but this is my heart and soul on paper.
- Connecting. Oh my how I love people, how I love the opportunity and privilege to know and peer into another’s soul and be warmed by the intricate and unique way that they are designed. To see them come alive in speaking or sharing in the moments and avenues they come alive in.
I live for those things. They are in my DNA. Yet on my couch I sat. Again.
So here I began to ponder. How often do we (I) allow those things- the small things, the numbing things, the mindless things, the things that matter so little to us- to take up the time that we always think we don’t have and occupy the spaces that our heart-and-soul fire starters should be stirring?
When that happens, its not just being lazy, or self-care, or killing time. It is allowing the world around us to dictate who we are instead of living out our DNA, our destiny, our purpose. In a small way we’ve momentarily outsource who we are as if to say, no my DNA says I’m an adventurer, a learner, a connecter. But the mechanics of the world around me say I am a TV watcher, someone who needs to relax and unwind mindlessly.
And I say this with absolutely no judgement. I’ve been in my lazy pursuit of purpose for a long time. Maybe in my 30th year, I will finally find some of the gumption to truly follow dreams and destiny, live out my DNA. Maybe I will seize the moments of silence and peace and lean into who I am rather than masking it with trivial things that I am not.
For me though, at least for today, I am telling myself this:
Put down the numbing and mindless replacements for who you are. Pick up purpose, pursue calling, live out DNA. Rather than from, run to. Live alive.
What is your DNA? What are some of the things that make you come alive? And what things are you choosing instead of them right now?