Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Do You Know When You are Living Your Highest and Best Purpose?

It was a gorgeous morning, and getting quite hot already. It was only 7:00 in the morning, and I was ready to find the air conditioning. The desert can be like that - stifling hot.

The evaporative cooling system needed some attention, so even though the temperature was uncomfortable, my husband climbed up on the roof to make some repairs.

We were expecting our friend, Bob, to come by at 8:00 with an estimate for some work he was going to do for us. He arrived on time and I told him we needed to go up to the roof to get my husband because he was reparing the cooling system.

"Now is that his highest and best purpose?" he asked me, teasingly. (I thought this was a particularly great question in light of the fact I had just started this blog on discovering one's soul purpose.)

I thought carefully about how I was going to answer this question, because it seemed significant.

"Well," I said, "given how hot we can expect it to get today, I'd have to say for the moment, it probably is his highest and best purpose."

Bob chuckled and followed me to the ladder, where he scrambled up to give my husband a hand.

I have been thinking about his question ever since he posed it. On the one hand, my husband or I could have determined that our highest and best purpose would be to begin our usual day and call out a repairman. It would be easy to argue that our hghest and best purpose is always done through the service we offer others in fulfillment of our missions. Theoretically and for the most part, I believe that is true.

And yet, from time to time, we may find ourselves getting up in the middle of the night to tend to a sick child. We might put some of our career activity on hold to care for our elderly parent. We might continue a good paying job to provide for our family while developing a career during our off-hours that is in more alignment with our mission.

If we choose to be of service to the people we love when they are in need, are we off purpose?

Practically, I know sometimes our highest and best purpose occurs when we respond to the needs of our family and friends. Sometimes it is the best avenue through which to express our highest purpose. If our purpose is limited to a career or particular action, it is probably not big enough.

If we consistently took care of others in order to avoid our truest, most meaningful work - if we were using it to escape, then indeed we would not be living our highest and best purpose. And yet, there is a place for loving acts of kindness within our life of purpose.

Some years ago, a dear friend and elder told me about a realization she had during a near-death experience. When she met with guides on the other side, together they reviewed her life. She was quite surprised when they told her that doing what she had gone to earth to do was very good. But what they really deemed significant were the thoughtful, kind acts of love she offered along the way.

In other words, it is good to live our purpose. That is what we have come here to do. Yet we would be missing out on the deeper meaning of our purpose if we neglected to do the little, loving, thoughtful things along the way.