1 Comment on Seeker Thoughts: Finding One’s Purpose
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In Judaism, there is the idea is that each person has a unique, specific purpose to fulfill, a purpose that only they can do. G-d then leads and guides each person towards their purpose with the situations He places the person in. I think it was the Rambam who listed several things one should consider when determining their purpose in the world. These include the circumstances one was born into (family, race, gender, religion, country, century, etc), talents and potentials, interests, character traits, big and life-changing decisions they’ve already made in their lives, and people they are drawn to and admire. If one really thinks about each one of these components, they will discover their own unique combination of answers which will lead to their own unique place and purpose in the world.
This idea helped me slowly stop jealously watching my friends’ seemingly wonderful lives and focus on my own path. In truth, it doesn’t really matter what is going on in my friends’ lives because I have my own purpose to fulfill which G-d is leading me towards. Everything that happens in my life is intentionally put there by G-d and if I use my circumstances correctly, I will find where I am supposed to be.
Personally, I have found applications for this to myself as a non-Jew. I used to be very jealous of my Jewish friends who had Shabbat. And then I realized that maybe I was thinking the wrong way. I realized that perhaps if G-d gave Shabbat as a gift to Jews, then in a way, He gifted us non-Jews with an extra working day. There is something that we non-Jews are supposed to do on Shabbat that our Jewish friends can’t. There is some light I can bring into the world only this day that only I was a non-Jew can. It’s the same reason I did not fast this past Yom Kippur – for some reason, G-d wanted me to have my physical strength on this day. So I spent a few hours in my Jewish friend’s home, giving her and her husband a chance to nap while I baby sat the kids. I believe being a non-Jew is not a limiting thing, as it is sometimes put across. Rather, it simply means G-d has this particular path planned for me, and I need to find where I am needed and how best to use my circumstances to better my own little corner of the world.
This for me, highlights the idea that everybody has a certain place in the world. The world would not function properly if everybody did the same thing. It is the reason non-Jews are given a different set of commandments than Jews are. If everybody understood their own unique place and worked with it instead of trying to copy other people, everybody else would benefit because of it. Everybody has their own unique light that they need to bring into the world that only they can, in their families and communities. There is a saying that “no one is irreplaceable,” but this is one job where in you quite literally are irreplaceable – because only YOU have your specific set of circumstances that enable you to bring your certain light into the world. Only you have your combination of talents, habits, circumstances, environment, character traits, and interests – and you should use it.
Sometimes though, I start to worry I do not have what it takes to do whatever G-d expects of me. But I remind myself that G-d doesn’t make mistakes, and who am I to insist that I know my own potential more than G-d does? And I remember a story I heard sometime back in a Torah class, where the speaker explained that G-d tells your soul everything that’s going to happen to your life, and your soul has to say yes and agree to it before being sent down into this world (and you forget everything). I think about that story and tell myself that deep down inside, I agreed to my own mission and my soul knows not only what I’m supposed to do, but that I can do it.
One last thing – most people want to go out, believing their purpose is to fix the entire world, which is a wonderful and noble thing. But they overlook the fact that they themselves are just as much a part of the world, and sometimes, their purpose actually lies in “just” healing and fixing themselves. Because after all, even healing “just” a part of the world leads to the eventual healing of the entire world. Some people are born with the kind of lives that allow them the luxury of going out and doing bigger things for all of mankind, which is wonderful. But not everybody was blessed with that kind of life – but no, that does not make them any less important. Even if one “only” heals themselves, or “only” has time to tend to their families, as long as they fulfill the role G-d had for them according to the best of their abilities, they have accomplished their task completely.
A few weeks ago, I read something beautiful that someone shared on Facebook. They said that their favorite prayer is a Jewish prayer called Mi Shebeirach, and there was one line in particular that touched them: “Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing.” I am struck by the truth of the statement – that many times, what stops us from fulfilling our purpose is our hesitation in doing so and lack of belief in ourselves. So my hope and prayer for everybody is that we may all find the courage and strength to make our lives a blessing, and fulfill our own unique purpose.
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