“Ask Jesus what he wants from you and be brave!” Pope Francis
My friend Brooke thought she was taking her child to a routine 2-year-old checkup.
But when the bloodwork looked abnormal, the doctor ordered follow-up tests. From there a nightmare unfolded as Brooke and her husband learned that their vivacious little girl had been diagnosed with childhood cancer.
They were devastated, and while their daughter now thrives as a teenager and has been in remission for years, it was a frightening time of uncertainty. Nobody knew what the future held.
Brooke, a self-proclaimed introvert, shies away from attention. She enjoys her comfort zone of nesting at home. But as thousands of people followed her on CaringBridge.org, Brooke received invitations to share her story in person. She always said yes even though she hates public speaking and would get so nervous beforehand that she wouldn’t eat for days.
“I’m so grateful for what God has done for us,” she told me, “that I want to do something in return for Him.”
Her courage intrigued me, and when I told my dad about it, he said, “An introvert can become an extrovert when they do something for God.”
Wow. What truth. Little did I know, I’d need this truth myself years later when my book released, and I got invited to speak. As I questioned these opportunities since public speaking made me nervous, my dad told me, “When you’re nervous, you’re thinking too much about yourself. Focus instead on your audience. Think about the people you’re trying to help and the message you came to share.”
His words hit home. And like my friend Brooke, I discovered the secret to being brave is to forget about yourself and focus on helping others. As that happens, you walk into your purpose.
Too often in life, we aimlessly drift. Even if we embrace our purpose as moms, we mistakenly believe our purpose is over once our kids leave home. The truth, however, is that your purpose continues until your last breath on earth.
Your purpose is bigger than your calling as a mom.
Pastor Rick Warren wrote a life-changing book on this subject. His opening line – “It’s not about you” – makes it clear that we exist for God’s purposes. The Purpose-Driven Life is one of the bestselling books of all times (over 35 million copies sold), and it explains how every human being is uniquely created and gifted to serve their generation. There may be accidental pregnancies, but there are no accidental babies. God does not make mistakes.
“You cannot arrive at your life’s purpose by starting with a focus on yourself. You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God – and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.”
Throughout your life, God will call you outside your comfort zone. He’ll give you assignments outside your wheelhouse and dreams without all the answers. He’ll force you to step up and be brave.
Before you dismiss His nudges, ask yourself, “Do I not want to do this because I’m scared – or because it feels wrong?” If you’re hesitating due to fear, pray for help. Ask God for the grace to do His will and remember the reason we accept His assignments is in response to His perfect love. Our work returns to Him what He’s already given to us.
Chances are, you once had visions and dreams. You had bright-eyed wonder about your future. But motherhood rearranged your priorities. You discovered the pinnacle of purpose in raising your children – and what on earth could compare to that?
I can’t speak for all moms, but for me, nothing will ever bring the same joy, fulfillment, or sense of purpose as being a mother. My kids and my husband are the best chapters of my life, and if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t have a single regret about embracing them as my primary purpose.
At the same time, I may live another 40 or 50 years. I’m launching teenagers and entering my life’s second act. My family will always be my greatest purpose, but once the nest is empty, I’ll have more time and energy. I’ll have more head space and heart space to serve God.
So what I’m starting to ask is, what next? How do I parlay my experiences into fresh callings or pursuits? Clearly, I have my writing, yet even with that, I feel lost. I struggle to imagine what is possible after being out of practice so long.
The dreaming that once came naturally no longer does. Sometimes, I wonder if my ship has sailed.
Many women feel this way. I know so many smart mothers who underestimate themselves and believe they no longer have talents. They’re convinced they have no purpose after their kids leave home. I get it because I’ve felt it.
But the truth, you have a hidden advantage. You have a mother’s heart – and an outlook no one can teach in a seminar or class. At our high school, for instance, the ladies at the front desk, BeBe and Angel, are phenomenal because of their hearts. They’re like on-campus mamas, understanding the kids’ needs without being told. Whether it’s a student with an injury, a student who didn’t make the team, or a student going through a tough time, they know how to show extra love and compassion and create a smooth transition. They treat other people’s kids like their own.
When Jesus picked His disciples, he didn’t look for superstars. Instead, He looked for humble, teachable hearts. He chose ordinary men who would serve and cooperate with God’s grace. What this means for moms is that we don’t need fancy achievements to make a meaningful impact. As long as we have willing hearts, God can work miracles.
Motherhood is important – but you’re more than just a mom. Your purpose doesn’t end just because your kids grow up. If anything, having extra time and motherly wisdom allows you to better serve. It gives you a hidden advantage in building God’s kingdom.
Your life is God’s gift to you – and what you do with your life is your gift back to Him. Be open and ready to respond. Stay faithful in small assignments that prepare you for bigger ones. Even when you feel unqualified, He will equip you. He’ll challenge you, stretch you, and force you to leave your comfort zone.
This is where you’ll find your greatest purpose. While motherhood is a huge part of your purpose, God is also using you in a bigger story, a story that brings glory to Him and inspires others in their journey of faith, meaning, and purpose.
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My newest book, More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive, is now available. It’s the perfect Mother’s Day gift for you and your friends!
I also have a book for girl moms, Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter and books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, These resources have been used widely across the U.S. for church and small group studies.
Posted by Kari on May 1, 2022