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How to Find Your Worth When Your Purpose Shifts

Prayers for purpose and the faith to step into it didn’t turn out the way I expected.

At the end of 2014, I was finishing up graduate school as a therapist; my husband had recently returned home from his first deployment after our wedding. I had vaguely clear plans of becoming a trauma and attachment-focused therapist working with service members and military families wherever my husband happened to be stationed—if his orders from Fort Hood ever went through (side note: they didn’t, he retired from there, and we’re still here).

I was reading Restless, by Jennie Allen, and trying to figure out the next step after my upcoming graduation when I clearly felt called to military chaplaincy. There were no neon signs and the heavens didn’t part and there was no chorus of heavenly hosts, but something settled in my spirit when I saw a magazine ad, and I knew.

This wasn’t part of my plan.

I made the logical, reasonable, obviously good choice, and totally stopped praying for a month. This wasn’t my plan, and I didn’t want to hear it confirmed. My husband was supposed to be retiring in a few years—I wasn’t supposed to be raising my right hand and signing on the dotted line.

Needless to say, I eventually had a heart-to-heart with my husband, and he encouraged me to seek guidance and explore this other path.

If you’re unsure if a season is changing, seek guidance.

I spoke with the chaplains I worked with (how convenient that I was surrounded by chaplains). I spoke with my graduate school advisor. I spoke with friends. And family. And basically anyone who would listen. Because this was not my plan, not my area of expertise, and I didn’t know how to move forward.

I graduated and started seminary in 2015. Four years later, I raised my right hand and signed on the dotted line, even though the in-between time wasn’t quite as straightforward.

Go figure, the path to purpose isn’t always lined with a red carpet and arrows showing which choice to make.

Each of our lives holds different purposes depending on the season we’re in.

In undergrad, I dropped political science from my major and switched to  journalism and history—these were my two loves; I’d been an overachiever as a wayward way of addressing the trauma of abandonment by my biological parents. Changing my major changed my trajectory and freed me from chasing ghosts.

My purpose shifted.

Our purposes may change as we gain self-awareness and shed things that no longer hold the same meaning for us, and that’s okay.

My goals of working for a newspaper changed again when I met my future husband and stepsons and realized that military life deeply impacts children. After we married, I started graduate school—journalism was no longer my focus, but my editing skills came in handy from time to time. For a season, my purpose lied in understanding trauma and attachment and helping others understand those things, too. I thought it would be my career path.

Until it wasn’t.

Accepting change was hard. It was—and is—easy to compare myself to my colleagues—those who’ve opened their own private practices and those who’ve already gone through Basic Officer Leadership Course and have a better understanding of the Army. It seems that I go through these mini existential crises every time my purpose shifts. So, I’m learning to rest in the knowledge that:

  • Purpose changes because we’re dynamic, incredible individuals, and we don’t remain rooted to the same circumstances our entire lives.
  • Purpose changes and I—and you—will always be worthy. I’m confident in the one who directs my steps.
  • Purpose changes and we don’t walk the same path as anyone else for a lifetime—we all walk different paths and intersect at different times; sometimes, we journey together for a season, and sometimes, our paths cross once or many times.

Regardless of where you are in your journey to discovering or living out or being redirected in your purpose, know that you’re worthy and ready and surrounded by an army of brothers and sisters cheering you on.



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