For the Girl Struggling to Find Her Purpose
What would you say to your younger self?
If I could go back and tell the fifteen-year-old me what I know now I would first hug her close and say, "God sees you. He hears you. You cannot begin to comprehend the great purpose He is preparing for you."
At fifteen years old, I was being bullied on a daily basis. I would flip over my pillow each morning so that my mom wouldn't see the tear stains from the night before. I remember constantly telling myself, "This is normal teenage drama. Don't make it more than it is." It wasn't until my weight started to drastically fluctuate and my hair began to fall out that I knew this was not normal.
During that time, my best friend and my cousin Jeff who was thirteen was also facing circumstances outside of his control. He was undergoing intense radiation and chemotherapy to save his eyesight from an inoperable brain tumor that was causing him to go blind. I remember one day in particular. Our volleyball team had just lost the game to qualify for state, I got off the bus to see that my car had been vandalized. The next morning I would go with Jeff to a radiation treatment. This was not normal. This was not fair. I wanted to break and shut out our current reality. Most kids our age were having the time of their teenage lives. Why did this chapter of our lives have to be so hard? Why were we here? Jeff was fighting to keep his vision and I was just trying to keep my hair!
Standing in that hospital room the next morning, watching the nurses place a mesh mask over Jeff's face as he laid on the table for treatment, I felt something shift within me - a divine intervention perhaps. We were made for more, so much more. And we were not alone, my heart hurt for the kids who were also dealt unfavorable cards and we're now navigating their own paths to remission and hope. It's in these moments of our heart's unquenchable ache that I am reminded of C.S. Lewis's quote, "The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can't supply is proof that Heaven must be our home."
In that moment I felt a small fire ignite within me that I could not fully understand. I remember declaring within my heart that there was a greater purpose being prepared for us that would outweigh all of the present pain. We would not be defined by our circumstances, but what we would overcome would become our sphere of influence.
That night I made one of the boldest prayer requests of my life. I went to bed and asked God to use our voices, our circumstances, and our blessings to give back to others and to fight the brokenness of this world. I felt Jesus speak to my spirit, "You would have chosen a different path, but had We not walked through this season you would not have the training, the strengthening, nor the compassion to fulfill the call I have over your life. I will take all that the world has meant for harm and redeem it, not only for your good, but for the good of others."
I want to be clear here that cancer, bullying, any and all evil of this world is NOT FROM GOD. It is simply the fallen world in which we have... for now. (See Revelation 21:5)
Chemo and radiation treatment continued for months. I saw visiting Jeff as my refuge and my escape from school. He was my constant companion and confirmation that I was loved beyond rival. Ironically, my visits were his relief as well. We never focused on our current circumstances, or really talked about them, but we continued to look forward. Being with Jeff was always a party, but not one of them ever centered on pity.
One day we broke out the water color paints and began to create note-cards. We discovered a passion for philanthropy that summer and could never have believed the ride that was to follow. Jeff's mom, Julie, established "Jeff's Bistro" a fun, one summer only, adventure that sold her baked goods and Jeff's hand-painted note-cards every Saturday with profits benefiting the Children's Tumor Foundation. The bistro was a one-hit wonder with $15,000 donated to charity by the end of summer.
That was the most amazing high I had ever experienced! We were kids, not even half way through high school, and we were making a difference in the lives of others. Soon another passion of mine set aflame when the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Jeff a wish to meet Sir Elton John. As for those water colored, "kid art" note-cards, they soon graduated to canvas and made their way to the stage.
As a family we have spent the past eight years traveling to nonprofit galas across the country where Jeff's abstract artwork is now sold for thousands of dollars for hundreds of foundations. I have had the privilege of sharing many of those galas on stage with Jeff. As of today, Jeff's vision is stable, there is no threat of his fried brain tumor, and as a family we have raised over three million dollars for charity.
As for me, I graduated high school and found the sisterhood I craved through pageantry and joining the Chi Omega Sorority, a national philanthropic partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation (See what God did there?!). When Jeff had his wish grant in 2007, I couldn't even remember the full name of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Four years later, I was pursuing my love for Make-A-Wish through fundraising events, volunteering as a local wish granter, and coordinating galas. I thought God had outdone Himself just with that wild connection between two seasons of my life, but He didn't stop there. My experience with Make-A-Wish as a Chi Omega led me to internships at the Iowa chapter then Make-A-Wish America, the national headquarters of the foundation. Honestly, I was not qualified for the job at nationals. I was shocked to receive the call saying I had been chosen out of twelve-hundred applicants because of my passion, not my qualifications. That summer of 2013 I was blessed with ten weeks of granting celebrity wishes for kids just like my cousin Jeff. One day at my computer, I even stumbled upon Jeff's wish grant photos with Elton John!
Furthermore, I knew exactly what I wanted to do after college: obviously I was going to work with Make-A-Wish for the rest of my life! Tell God you've got the rest of your life figured out from here and see how that works out. I'm sure He smiles and kindly laughes. Following college graduation, I spent several weeks in Peru with my boyfriend (now fiancé!), Clay. During that trip I was able to visit the Make-A-Wish Peru office. It was the coolest full-circle moment! I remember being on my flight back to the U.S. looking out the plane window at all the city lights and thinking, "God, you are so wild. I can't believe you would connect all of those moments in my life just to reveal my purpose and passion." That's when the Holy Spirit threw me a major curve ball. I felt God say, "My purpose in promoting you through Make-A-Wish was not to confirm to you a career but to reveal to you My calling over your life and prove My faithfulness to you. Look at the lights illuminating the darkness. I am calling you to shine truth and love into the darkness of this world. I will be with you and I will go before you. I will take you across the state, to across the nation, to across the nations of the world. I am calling you to go where most will not go and to bring victory to My people."
Later that year, God gave me the name Chosen To Reign with visions and dreams to equip and empower a Kingdom Crowned generation. The soul mission of Chosen To Reign is to empower royal identity, radiant true beauty, and a path of Kingdom purpose in every woman. It has not been an easy journey, and I still think He is crazy, but He continues to be faithful and to blow me away time and time again. To be honest I'm often unsure of myself and I am probably the most unqualified and incapable person for this but I know I am following His voice and He is directing my steps. So whatever success does come from Chosen To Reign, it is ALL His doing. I'm a small-town, Iowa farmer's daughter who should be working for a nonprofit by now. Ha!
I completely believe God gifts us dreams so that we may pursue a relationship with Him. How amazing is it that Jesus invites us to be a part of the greatest story ever told in history - His Story! God doesn't need us to usher in the Kingdom and restore humanity and renew the world, but He invites us to because He wants relationship with you and to reveal Himself to you! Maybe the coolest thing about a God-given dream is that He breathes life into the dream. A word from God comes filled with the very power to perform it.
I want to encourage you to forget the pressures of this world. If I've learned anything on this journey it's that Kingdom protocol is about a 180 degree difference from the world's definitions of success and happiness. Purpose rarely looks the way we think it should, but the truth is that every season of your life serves a greater purpose - and it's all connected. You may not feel capable or trained for this calling but you were made for it. No matter what: keep going. Keep seeking God's purpose within the bigger picture. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Jesus is pursuing you and there is nothing that can stop the plans He has in store for you.
I can't tell you your purpose here, but I can promise you that you are filled with power, purpose, and potential beyond human comprehension because you are a Daughter of the King. God never creates a good thing without an abundance of goodness and purpose - it's just who He is. So take a deep breath and know you haven't missed God's purpose for your life. You, beautiful, can never be lost to an all-knowing God. He sees this thing from beginning to end. It's all connected and it's for your good and the good of others (See Romans 8:38).
So straighten your crown. Keep your chin up, your eyes focused on Jesus, and your hands open. As long as you've got a pulse, you've got a purpose here on planet Earth. My charge to you is to be the girl that wakes up with purpose and intent. Be the girl who shows up and never gives up. Be the girl who believes anything is possible and is willing to work for it. And be the girl who inspires and empowers others to do the same. Purpose is not something to pursue, it's a gift you already possess.
Make this your daily declaration:
God has the most amazing turnaround victory story prepared specifically for me.
I've also made you a FREE Four Day Guide to Pursuing Purpose to help you navigate the seasons of your life and connect the dots to see God's bigger picture and the big dreams He has planned for you! Click here to grab your's!