I’m speaking at a conference this week and my topic is all about figuring our our own unique purpose in life. So I’ve been thinking more deeply about life and how to do this. We’re all just so different! We all have such different talents and set-backs and insecurities and dreams. It may sound strange, but I feel like one of the biggest things we can do to figure out our own purpose is to create some disruption.

Because disruption leads to progress.

And in progress we find joy.

Disruption + Progress = Joy

On a small scale, that’s one reason why I’ve taken on this blog renew. Things have been the same over here for so long, and I love the “same.” It’s so comfortable! But I kept feeling compelled to make some changes to keep progress going. I know we still have a ways to go, so many posts to update, etc., but I’m here for it. Because I love this little corner of the internet and all that I learn over here. And pushing myself to link up with others disrupts me and helps me progress.

It gives me joy.

That was a digression, let’s get back to it: we cannot become our best selves (and make progress) without disrupting ourselves now and again.

I don’t know if there are many out there who have watched “The Good Place.”

It’s an “American fantasy comedy” television series that we watched with Lucy years ago. This may be a spoiler alert, but after all kinds of plot twists and adventures, the main character and her friends actually get to the real “Good Place” (Heaven). They find that everyone is drinking pina coladas and having a giant party. At first they think this really is Heaven. I mean, who doesn’t want a non-stop party going on in their lives? But when they start getting to know the other people who have arrived there, they realize they’re losing themselves. They have nothing to work for. No problems. No stress, just endless fun.

No disruption. Therefore, no progress. And also, no true joy.

So, we’re continually on this path to figure out our purpose.

Sometimes we can find it through others.

art by Caitlyn Connolly

Whether we are pushed by them: a little thing they say, something they do that we want to emulate. Or whether we reach out to lift them up (I’m a big believer that some of the biggest growth we find is through looking out rather than looking in).

So much of our purpose is to be found in the passing back and forth of words and actions and love between human beings.

But I believe that the lions share of our struggle on the path to figure out our own purpose comes from looking inside and up.

art by Caitlyn Connolly

Because only we can figure out the “fleshy tables” of our own hearts.

And only God knows us well enough to help us mold and break and repair them as we seek for purpose in life.

Over and over again.

I love this quote from Richard Rohr:

Human beings seem to need to fight and engage with something before they can take it seriously—and before they can discover what they really need or want. The people who never fight religion, guilt, parents, injustice, friends, marriage partners, and laws usually don’t respect their own power, importance, and freedom. They remain content with the external values of the first ‘lawful’ container, instead of working to discover their own.”

Bottom line is this: do we ever really figure out our “purpose?” Do we figure it out and, voila! It’s a party?


Finding our purpose is a constant process. Once we do “figure it out,” life changes, and we need to figure it out all over again. We add new layers. We add new people. We learn new things. We cause disruption over and over.

And we learn through it all.

Sending out all kinds of love and encouragement as we all try to keep progressing and learning in whatever ways we can.

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  1. I love this post! I think that you’re exactly right. I Also think that what we are (already) doing, that’s our purpose. Our purpose isn’t in the “what” but the “how.” Our purpose on earth is to love others, so we can do that no matter what we are doing. In parenting, in marriage, in our work, no matter what our work looks like, we can love the people all around us and our purpose can be fulfilled TODAY! With all the people and things that we already have. It’s also good to dream about changes and try new things, but we don’t have to look far to find people to love to fulfill our purpose.

    1. My brother and I were JUST talking about this very thing. Sometimes the best “disruption” we can do is staying still, right where we are, changing our thoughts and our hearts. Sometimes our “purpose” is finding patience with a colicky baby for a whole season of life. Sometimes it’s figuring out how to forgive someone who’s wronged us. Sometimes it’s just having patience that things aren’t happening how we want them to. You’re so right, we are fulfilling our purpose this very day. Sometimes we just need to shift our thinking to recognize that.
      Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. This is brilliant Shawni! And also, the new look on the blog is spectacular! You know that one of my favorite quotes is “If life is just a bowl of cherries, hire a wolf to knock at your door!” As you know I have hired many wolves in our days together when you were kids and as you point out, those “wolves disruptions” create strength and vision and love that can be found no other way. Sure wish I could be there to hear that talk. It’s going to bring about so much good!

  3. I’ve been running around like a little lost puppy the last few years attempting purpose. I’m starting to realize that I need to cut out purpose- searching for awhile. Instead I need to work on some lifelong poor habits that are holding me back from each potential purpose as it has come. If my complaints and hesitations and fears are the same with each potential venture, well the only common denominator there is me. I’m starting to think lack of purpose will feel pretty good for awhile as I get this sorted out. Likely God will then have room to use me in a wiser way than I can invent for myself. Always love your introspective posts. Thank you for helping me stop and think on this further.

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