What’s the purpose of getting up in the morning?
Whatever our daily tasks may entail, letting God’s love animate our thoughts and actions brings fresh meaning and purpose to our days, benefiting ourselves and others.
Is the purpose of getting up and out of bed to go to work? What if you are between jobs? Is purpose defined by finding a job?
I was asking myself these questions on my way to the cleaners to drop off a bundle of bedding. Finding my purpose in life was so consuming my thought that a new question came to me: “What is my purpose in going to the cleaners?”
I had just left a fulfilling position after many years, and I was feeling my way about next steps. My life purpose needed to be obvious if I was going to move forward productively. So, I was evaluating almost everything according to finding my purpose in life!
This is where my focus was when I plopped my pile of bedding on the dry cleaner’s counter. But instead of launching immediately into what I wanted, I paused: Wait, how could I focus on the person in front of me, rather than myself? How could I listen unselfishly and attentively? How could I show real care?
This didn’t come out of the blue. I had been reading and thinking deeply about the essence of Christ Jesus’ identity and life that enabled him to be a great teacher and healer. It was love. The unselfish, universal, pure love that he expressed toward others emanated from divine Love, God. Through the power of this ever-present Love, negative conditions afflicting those he met were healed. Lives were transformed and improved. And Jesus taught that we could follow his example by drawing on the same divine source.
I so wanted to feel and express this Christly love to benefit others too, including right there at the cleaners!
As I stood at the counter, the attendant carefully read the label on each of the items and said that they didn’t need to be dry-cleaned – they could all be washed in a noncommercial washing machine. She explained how I could do the wash myself, and the manager then offered to do a colorfast test right on the spot to determine that the bedding was safe to wash at home.
Oh gosh, look who was listening unselfishly and caringly to benefit me! Right then and there I had the answer to my question, “What is my purpose in going to the cleaners?” It was to see patient, kind love in action! The staff were so clearly letting thoughtfulness and generosity guide the actions of their particular service.
Aha, clarity! Love first, and the right action, job, or service will follow.
The next day, inspired by these insights, I got out of bed with fresh resolve. I prayed to know how best to help others and looked for ways to serve in my community. This led to becoming a writing coach for students at the local high school and joining a project that helped adults without homes.
My primary focus was to love in the way Jesus pointed out: tenderly, courageously, effectively. For Jesus, love was not merely a human attribute that came and went or consisted of simply being nice. The love Jesus lived was a divine quality – and is inherent in every one of us as children of our Father-Mother God.
When we strive to see through the lens of divine Love, we glimpse the spiritual good that’s expressed in everyone. Our unbreakable relation to God means that overflowing love naturally shines through each of us impartially, like the sun that radiates on green grass and frozen fields alike. Jesus told his followers, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.... This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:9, 12, New Living Translation).
I consistently affirmed in my prayers that the love of God – written on my and everyone’s heart – is here to guide all of us. This realization empowered my efforts to offer encouragement and support to the people I worked with. Many of them caught fresh glimpses of their own capabilities and possibilities and became willing to try new things, often with remarkable results.
Whatever our daily tasks include, we can go about them animated by a larger purpose: to love our neighbors with pure Christly affection. As we let divine Love guide us, meaningful activity for each day will follow, including what’s beneficial to others!
My prayer, some daily good to do
To Thine, for Thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me.
(“Poems,” p. 13)