Aimless, or living with purpose?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

My adult daughter and I were having a lighthearted conversation about her growing-up years. At one point I said, "Your father and I felt we wanted to have children to make the world better." I continued half apologetically, "Wasn't that an awful burden to put upon you?"

"Oh," she quickly replied, "I'm glad to have a purpose." We talked a little about what, to me, seemed her overriding purpose, that of helping teachers, herself included, find paths for reaching children who were having trouble learning.

Of course, I loved hearing more about that purpose, but the conversation got me to thinking about the whole subject of having a purpose in life as opposed to just drifting. I remembered this statement. It was written by Mary Baker Eddy: "When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man's normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 205).

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I found this statement one summer when this same daughter was in her early teens. For a week or so she had seemed totally idle, just drifting along with no plans for the summer and apparently not interested in anything I proposed. I couldn't see that she was doing anything that remotely resembled being influenced by unselfishness and love for others.

Then one day she presented a thoroughly thought-out and detailed plan for having a nursery school on our back porch, to the delight of the neighborhood mothers. This taught me that there is a "normal drift" that is right and it is God-governed - an expression of Love - even though it may not be readily apparent. The key is realizing that there really is one all-loving Mind because there is one God. Then whatever we are guided to do naturally shows forth the love that blesses others.

While speaking to someone who said he wasn't even sure that there was a God, I couldn't help looking at his life and noting many instances of unselfish acts. Where did that impulse of good come from, I had to ask. This approaches that basic childhood - and adulthood! - question, "Where do I come from?"

Probing such questions may well lead us to the conclusion that God creates us and that there is a plan for our lives. Aimless drifting could have no place in a divine purpose. The "normal drift" is toward God, and it cannot be stopped or hindered.

Feeling either without purpose or burdened by purpose is a call to "drift" toward God. This "normal drift" is the exact opposite of aimlessness. The "normal drift" is on the sea of spirituality. These currents deepen our knowledge of God and our relationship to this source of all good. They free us from the imposition of being controlled by mere material observations and by those holding such views.

Spirituality enables us to "love another as ourselves" without fear of being dominated. Each of us can prove our own God-given authority for living our own lives.

Drifting along with materialism, however, we do surrender the control of our lives. Often such surrender is subtle, and we barely recognize that we are no longer "the captain of our ship." This kind of drifting is not normal, or perhaps it's not drifting at all. It is the pull of human or self-will. Long ago I learned that there was no more satisfaction or good in serving another person's self-will than in serving my own unredeemed personal will.

An honest look at our daily lives reveals the source of our motivation. Those who may feel that they do not have a purpose should recall recent actions and examine what motivated them. In doing so they may well find the little unselfed acts that add up to evidence that the one Mind, the God that is Love, has been guiding them all along.

Whether we have a clearly defined primary purpose or allow each day to define its purpose, we can be sure that unselfish actions fulfill God's purpose. Serving God is not a burden, but is actually the way to divest ourselves of burdens. Love's load is never heavy.

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