Passion and Purpose

By Larry Wilcock

Do we need em both?

“Purpose is the reason you journey, why you are are here.  Passion is the fire that lights the way.”  T.D. Jakes


A few years ago, I got to talk to a fellow in what I thought would be casual conversation.  The conversation quickly turned philosophical.  He was the second youngest of 11 children.  He always thought of himself as different than his siblings, a black sheep, if you will.  He told me that he finally opened up to one of his brothers, told him that he felt like the black sheep of the family.  Surprised, his brother replied, Really?!?  I always thought I was the black sheep!  Over the course of the next year, he travelled to visit the rest of his siblings, only to discover that each of them felt like the proverbial black sheep among what they thought was a family of conformity.  Unbeknownst to one another, each felt different from the rest, never feeling like they fit in.

This story fascinates me.  I have thought of it often in the past few years, feeling that I relate to each and every one of this man’s family members.  So I started asking that same question of my other siblings, with results that surprised me.  They, too, felt they were different or the black sheep of our family.  I was surprised!  I thought I was the only one!

It was in that moment that I started to re-evaluate my existence and how I fit in the world.  For the longest time I didn’t feel that I fit at all.

And yet I couldn’t deny that I felt I was here for a reason.

That feeling has never left me.  Even when I didn’t want it to be there, it still burned within, albeit sometimes brighter or smaller than others.

Little did I know at the time, but my reason for being here was trying to be heard, that feeling of being different was misunderstood. The truth is, I am different than others.  Heck, other are different from others!  We are all unique.  That feeling burning within me was and continues to be my purpose, the reason I am here.

I must confess, feeling my purpose has been terrifying, because for the majority of my life I had no idea what to do with it.  I hardly knew what it was, much less how to fulfill it.  And even less drive to accomplish it.

Over the years, I found myself just being here.  Paying bills, taking care of a husband and children, cleaning a house, doing the dishes, and filling a hundred different roles, waking up the next day and doing it all over again.  I began to feel dead inside, that burning feeling I used to have, that feeling of purpose getting smaller and smaller.  I wasn’t happy.  I was trying to follow all the rules and instructions of  what was supposed to make a happy life, but it didn’t seem to work.

And then it happened.

Everything fell apart.  Rebellious teens, losing a home, marital separation, social rejection, even my religion let me down. Thrust into poverty, suddenly finding myself on government assistance, judged by those I thought were my friends, I hit rock bottom.

Despair.  Depression.  Anxiety.  Loneliness and isolation.  And then…nothing.  I just went numb.  Nothing went as I planned.  It was a very dark time.

Looking back, I thought at the time that that was the worst my life had ever been.  In reality, it was one of the single most important things that could have happened to me.  Hard to imagine that to be true, but I stand by it.

I had nowhere to go but up.  I had a thought that my mind and heart caught hold of.

I can start over.

Magic words.  Liberating words.  Words of freedom.  I cannot express what this thought did for me.  Suddenly, possibility after possibility began to open up to me.

I decided to learn from my mistakes.  Looking back on my life, I now knew exactly what NOT to do! I never had to repeat those things again! It was very liberating, giving me such a feeling of peace and even excitement, as I realized I could learn and grow again.

And you know what?  That feeling of purpose began to burn brighter again.  This time I was determined to find out what it was and what to do about it. Even HOW to do it.  I set myself on a journey to learn.  By so doing, that feeling of purpose began to grow, and soon I noticed that I wasn’t just feeling a sense of purpose, but that that purposeful feeling was no longer alone.  Another feeling was starting to accompany it, seemingly feeding it, making it burn brighter and brighter.

For the first time since my youth, I felt a passion for living again.  Don’t get me wrong, I never did want to live, I just didn’t know how to do it well.  I fell into the daily grind.

Daily grind robs us of passion!!!!!!

I had been on auto pilot the majority of my life.  I was letting life dictate the direction my life had been heading.  It was what was expected.  By succumbing to the daily grind, I had lost my passion for having a purpose.

Now, with that passion returning, I was realizing one of the most liberating truths I have ever come across.

I can live my purpose. On purpose!  

I wasn’t going to let life simply happen to me anymore. I was going to MAKE life happen.

One of the greatest moments of my life was the instant I understood WHAT my purpose is.  My reason for being here became clear, and hope rose in my heart.

The passion that is accompanying my purpose, seems to be the fuel to get the purpose met.  It keeps me focused. It keeps me excited.  It grows my purpose bigger and bigger and drives me to discover ways to fulfill my purpose.  It feels good.  It makes me feel more alive than I have felt in a long time.

I know that this is a personal story, even a lengthy one. However, I am finding that I am not alone in this type of a journey.  I believe we all have a purpose, a reason for being here, to make this scary world less scary in our own ways.  This gives value to everyone.

I cannot fulfill your purpose.  You cannot fulfill mine.  But we can certainly help each other discover who we are and why we’re here.

One of the first things I did was perform 5 simple steps to help me begin to identify my purpose.  I will list those steps here.

1.  Make a list of things that I do that I like or bring me varying degrees of joy.  (for me, this was cooking new things, quilting, creating beautiful things, learning how to do hard things, self-motivated improvements, and learning truth of any kind, philosophical talks, among a few other details.)

2. Rate each thing on my list on a scale of 1-10.  Eliminate all that are rated 4 or below.

3. Write down all of my perceived weakness.

4. Write down all of my perceived strengths.

5. Measure them up against my list and see if a pattern starts to emerge.  (for myself, I included why I knew they were weaknesses or strengths.  I evaluated each and every one of them to determine if they were real or imagined.)

This was my new beginning.  It seems like such a simple thing, to make a list, but if I was going to move forward ON PURPOSE in my life, I had to understand myself better.  And the list changed everything for me.

I thought I was climbing out of a very dark place in my life, but in actuality, I was simply moving forward with new eyes. It is not a difficult climb.  Truthfully, it is easier living my life on purpose than it is to just let life happen to me.  I know what i’m doing this time.  I am excited each day to see where my journey takes me.  It is pleasant this time, not dark or foreboding.

Try following the 5 steps to begin seeing your purpose.  Passion will follow.  How do I know?  Because it happened to me.

Passion and Purpose
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