There’s an age-old question that I believe many of us ask ourselves over and over–what is my life’s purpose? The quest to find that purpose has been taking place for as long as humans have inhabited the earth.
Some Native American cultures practice a vision quest (our Americanized name), a rite of passage which usually is undertaken by young males entering adulthood. The rite traditionally practiced by those Native American cultures usually consists of a series of ceremonies led by Elders and supported by the community. The process often includes a four-day, four-night fast during which the young man stays alone at a sacred site in nature. During this time of fasting, the youth prays and cries out to the spirits of his culture for a vision that will help him find his purpose in life. He is seeking his role in his community and in what way he may serve his people best. Dreams or visions had during this time are often seen as signs that require interpretation by Elders.
When researching Indigenous Peoples for my book, Island of Miracles, I learned that this practice is not confined to Native Americans. Many Indigenous Peoples around the world have similar rites that usher a youth into adulthood and point him in the right direction. Religions also practice youth-to-adult rites such as Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs or the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation. These rites are more religious based than life-purpose based, but I do think there is a similar goal which is to celebrate a child’s transition into the next phase of his or her life in which he or she will make decisions about how they will live their lives.
This morning, I was listening to Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast, and he talked about the relationship between Jonathan and David in the First Book of Samuel. The two young men should have been enemies. They should have been jealous of each other. They should have each wanted the other to fail in his endeavors. Why? Because Jonathan was the heir to the Jewish throne, but David had been chosen by God to inherit the throne of Jonathan’s father, Saul. Why, according to Father Mike, did these men become best friends instead of enemies? Because they both recognized that they each had a purpose in life. Jonathan saw that his purpose was not the same as David’s, thus he was not jealous of his friend.
How often do we look at others and wish their lives were ours? How often do we imagine ourselves in someone else’s place? How often do we struggle with the person we are and the person we are meant to be?
I have spent most of my adult life searching and praying for my purpose to be revealed. At one time, my purpose was to be a daughter who learned from her parents. At another time, it was to be a librarian who taught others to find answers and knowledge. My purpose for many years was to be a mother who raised daughters in a secular, unGodly world. For over a dozen years now, I have been refining my purpose as a writer. What am I meant to write? Where is this journey meant to lead me? What am I to do with my writing that will benefit others and God?
I’ve come to realize that this is what our purpose should be – to live our lives in such a way that we do service to others and to God.
I think that’s why a lot of people go through life simply tossing stones into the sea.
A stone tossed into the sea does nothing. It does not float. It does not return. It simply falls to the bottom and settles there. So often, the purpose we believe is ours in life does the same. It’s stagnant. It doesn’t enhance our lives nor the lives of others. We think that it will somehow bring us happiness and success and make us feel good about our lives, but it often does the opposite. We feel lost, empty, unanchored. We have tossed a stone that will not yield fruit, will not come back and enrich our lives, and will not help us find our path, our purpose.
I spent all of Holy Week intensely praying for the wisdom to move closer to my true purpose in life. Throughout that week, I experienced things that I cannot put into words. I saw signs that amazed me, that turned me toward something I’ve always thought about but never dreamed was possible. I heard, in the words of others and in my own consciousness, voices that encouraged me to begin walking toward that goal. In the past ten or so days, I witnessed one thing after another coming together like a snowball rolling down a mountain, the momentum growing steadily as the snowball approaches me, and I can feel my heartbeat accelerating with both fear and excitement.
Over the coming year, I will share bits and pieces of this journey I now find myself on. It’s something I have felt my heart and my mind moving toward for many years, and I feel ready to embark on what I see as a true mission. At some point, I will invite you to go on this journey with me, but that time is not now.
If you’re wondering about your own mission, if you’re not sure where to go or what to do next, if you’re seeking your purpose in life, I encourage you to pray. Examine your talents and your gifts. Ask, if I may paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, not what the world can do for you, but what can you do for the world? Because I believe therein lies the key.
Rather than asking, what can I do to better my life or raise my status or increase my wealth, ask instead, what can I do to help others or to aid in the mission of the Church or for God?
It’s when we stop tossing stones into the water and look toward Heaven for answers that we will truly see our innermost dreams fly.
My next book, The Good Wine, will be available in July 1, 2021and is available for pre-order! More retailers are being added daily, so keep checking your favorite bookseller to see when you can order your copy. An in-person special event launch as well as an online event are being scheduled. Subscribe to my Newsletter to get updates.
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Sheltering with My Blessings
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).