One thing a lot of people struggle with is finding their mission or purpose in life. Lots of us feel like we are floundering–we might be busy but don’t feel like our activity is moving us in the direction we want to go. Awhile back I attended an intensive weekend with 40 other men, working to discover my mission and purpose. One of the points that made a huge impact on me was the idea that our wounds are connected to our mission. Our deepest hurts can inform the purpose God has for our lives.
The basic idea is to explore the deepest wounds that you have experienced in your life. Maybe you experienced physical or emotional abuse. Perhaps you were abandoned. Maybe you grew up in an environment in which you didn’t experience love and affection. For many of us, there is something about these hurts that create a passion or desire to see something changed. This passion or desire for change can fuel one’s mission in a way that other motivators cannot.
One of the speakers told the story of Wess Stafford, former president of Compassion International. Wess spent part of his childhood growing up with abusive guardians. Wess tells the story of one time he got in trouble, his guardians forced him to hold a candle with his fingers until the wick burned down all the way, burning his fingers. Wess said it was in that moment he knew he would devote his life to advocacy for children in need.
For me, my mission is to create contexts of grace for people to play, explore, and grow. I am passionate about helping people experience grace, both from God and from others. And, this passion is related to my wounds. I have struggled my entire life with experiencing grace myself. Instead, my tendency is to be perfectionistic and feel anxious and guilty whenever I fall short of the standards I have set for myself. (I still remember crying and running out of the classroom in 3rd grade when I got one question wrong on a spelling test.) It has been difficult for me to be kind to myself and accept myself ‘as is.’ And, this struggle with grace extends to my relationships as well. I struggle with being judgmental toward others instead of extending grace to them right where they are. I have difficulty ‘sticking with’ relationships when my own flaws or the flaws of the other person become evident.
So for me, my mission is directly connected to my wounds. My deepest hurts fuel my passion for helping myself and others experience grace. What about you? Next time you are thinking about your mission or purpose, take some time and think about your wounds. How have you been hurt deeply in the past? What are some of your recurring struggles? Think about how these wounds and hurts might inform your mission and purpose.
Paul writes in his letter to the church in Rome that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I believe that God wants to redeem our deepest wounds and hurts. And I think one of the ways he does this is by helping us connect our wounds to our mission.
Discussion: What is one of your core wounds? How is this wound related to your mission?