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How To Find Your Purpose: Explore The Past

August 9, 2010

Xandra and her new friend at Sinethemba.

Last month I blogged (OK, whined) about sending my 17-year-old daughter off to South Africa with a handful of high school friends. Thanks to Twitter we were able to receive regular updates from their hosts, Derek & Shea Poe, including the photo to the right. It’s from early in the trip when Xandra and her cohort spent two days at Sinethemba, a facility for children with special needs. Derek wrote: “I saw your little girl take care of a baby for a long long time this morning who is blind and lays in a bed all day long with little interaction with other kids. She sat and talked to her and touched her head and face to let her know that someone was there and loved her. It was priceless. Much love Richard.”

Much love indeed, Derek. That message took me back about 15 years to a reception following a funeral. A toddler was crying and would not be consoled. Xandra, who was not even two years old, put her arms around him and patted his back, a compassionate look of concern creasing her brow. I know that I was observing learned behavior; Xandra had been held and comforted in that way many times. She was just doing what had been done for her. But who gave her the urge to comfort others? I believe that passion is woven into her DNA, and it’s huge part of her unique purpose in life.

These are the kind of moments we need to capture as we strive to discover and live out our purpose.

Back home at the dinner table, as Xandra shared the experience of holding and feeding and touching and talking to this little girl, I saw the crease of concern reappear. I thought back to when she was composing a letter to help raise funds for the trip. “I just want to love on the kids!” she wrote in the first draft. As true as that may be, I said, you probably need to provide a little more detail on what you hope to accomplish. She edited the letter accordingly, but in retrospect I see that it truly was all she wanted to do. That’s what she has been wired to do since the day she was born.

Do you have similar moments locked away in a treasure chest of memories? A while back I suggested four questions and two activities to help sharpen the focus on redeeming your purpose. They all relate to exploring your past and discovering how to get the puzzle pieces to click into place. Set aside a Saturday afternoon for yourself. Answer the four questions and complete the two activities. Turn the key and open the chest. Let me know what you discover.

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