Life Purpose

Passion, Purpose, and Calling

Passion, purpose, and calling are often used interchangeable by self-help gurus and motivational speakers alike. If you are at all like me, you found more confusion than clarity when seeking out the help of others to answer the question “Why am I here?”. I think we can all agree that a purpose driven life is much more fulfilling than an aimless one. We can also agree that finding a career you are passionate about is much better than doing something you don’t like, just to make money. There are some distinct differences between the three that are important to consider. Hopefully, this breakdown will help you get the clarity that you have been looking for regarding your own life’s purpose. 

Purpose

Purpose is the reason. Purpose grounds us and drives actions that propel us forward into the unknown. Purpose is what gets us out of bed everyday. Purpose is what makes us keep going when we’d rather quit. Getting clear about your purpose for living is key, especially for those that suffer from depression or low motivation. The problem is that we have been brainwashed to believe that our purpose has to be something grand and admirable, or extravagantly selfless. We’ve been made to believe that to be living a life of purpose, we have to be saving the masses or transforming the planet. We have been made to believe that if we aren’t making a gigantic wave of impact than we completely and totally suck. This is absolutely untrue.

The thing about purpose is that it is much more simple than most people realize. From a cosmic perspective, the purpose of your life is just to live it. That’s it. No, I’m not joking. Did you wake up today? Are you breathing? Are you alive? Then from the universe’s or God’s perspective, you are serving your purpose for living. There is nothing that you have to do, be, or achieve to live your purpose from the higher perspective. Now, to have an enjoyable or fulfilling life, than you must have a sense of personal purpose. But, in this sense, purpose is the effect of calling and passion and not the other way around. You don’t choose your individual purpose. It is also not something that can be discovered or found. Purpose is something that gets realized as you step into your calling and develop a passion for it. 

Passion

Now notice I didn’t say you find your passion or even follow your passion. Passion is something that is developed. You may have some natural excitement about things, but many people rarely have initial passion for their calling. In fact, a true calling often comes with a marked amount of hesitation and/or reluctance. Why is that? Well, when we are young, we live our calling quite naturally. We express ourselves unapologetically and authentically. Those qualities too often get shamed, guilted, or humiliated out of us. We repress them, minimize, and/or hide them away to become more “socially acceptable”. Our passions then become either hidden passions, aka “guilty pleasures”, or we develop coping mechanisms that we call “passions”. These “coping” passions are those things that we are intensely motivated to do, because we believe deep down we will be accepted by others. These passionate coping mechanisms numb out the pain of not being accepted for who we really are. 

A pretty jagged little pill to swallow huh? Sorry, not sorry. Here’s the deal, your calling is that which you are. It is that which you were created to be. It has nothing to do with who you want to be or what you think will get you the love and acceptance that you didn’t get as a child. The definition of passion is “any powerful or compelling emotion”. By that definition, an intense desire to avoid something unwanted can be called a passion. In fact these avoidant passions are often mistaken for the true passion developed through calling. Many times what we believe we are passionate about, has more to do with avoiding our calling and true purpose, than it does in guiding us to it. So if you are searching for purpose and meaning in your life, I advise you to forget about your passions for now. Passion will come, but first you must identify your calling. 

Calling

The concept of calling is more elusive than one’s passions or desires. It is most often used in reference to religious callings. Someone who is called to serve the church or God, for example. The truth is that we are not that different from the nuns and monks of the world. We all have a calling to serve the higher power that created us. We feel this pull to serve, but if we are not religious nor intend to devote ourselves to a monastery, we don’t know what to do with that calling. It is however, innate in our original blueprints. We were each made specifically and intentionally by something greater than ourselves. That power, which I call God, expertly crafted who we are to perfectly serve Him as well as our own purpose in life.

There is this misconception that what God wants for your life is going to be different than what you want. There is a belief that we can either be self-serving or God serving, but not both. In truth, God made you, therefore, he also made your desires. When you acknowledge the truth of who you really are, you will also find what is truly calling you towards it. Serving the truth of who you are is serving the higher power that made you. There is no separation between your desires and God’s will for your life, so long as you get in touch with what those true desires actually are. 

We have absolute free will, and can thus choose to manifest any kind of experience we would like into our lives. We can even call forth specific people, places and things if we wish. That does not mean that they will be in alignment with who we truly are or were ultimately made to be. We are all intricately created instruments of Source. Each of us has a very specific soul song that the instrument we are sings when perfectly in tune with and played the way it was intended. Your life was already written. But not by some unknown God who knows you not, but by your higher self in collaboration with the highest power of creation. 

Accepting Your Calling

Accepting your calling is much less about what to do as it is about not doing. What are you doing that defies yourself? Stop. What are you doing that does not allow you to be who you naturally are? Stop that as well. Stop doing whatever you are doing that keeps you from your most authentic expression of self. The easiest, most natural version of who you are is your calling. It is your calling because it is what you were created to be. It is hard to believe, I know. How can something so effortless and natural be what I am meant to do in the world? How can something that I derive so much personal pleasure and satisfaction be enough to count as my contribution to the world? Shouldn’t work feel more like work? Is it not necessary for life to be difficult and full of suffering…etc.?

You’ve probably asked yourself all of these kinds of questions and more. The answer is no. Suffering was not part of the deal down here. It is however, much harder to sell salvation for profit if everyone is happy and in alignment with God on their own. Religions have taken the ease and power out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of religious leaders to sell back to us in pieces. Who is to say if this was deliberate or not. I think the answer to that is irrelevant. The programming happened, and now you think it isn’t okay to be yourself, even though God made you. Accepting and living your calling, means accepting yourself. That’s why it is so much easier to chase a purpose or a passion. A purpose or a passion can be justified. There is no justification for being you. You simply are what you are, because that’s how you were made. 

Why is it so challenging?

I think every single person on the planet would love to just “be themselves”. But it is a process that is much easier said than done. When we were young, we were constantly asked to justify why we were the way that we were, especially if someone disagreed with or were made uncomfortable by that behavior. We started to accept the belief that who we inherently were was wrong somehow. We began to develop ways to please those around us, and developed coping mechanisms to hide the pain of us hiding ourselves. When we make a commitment to align with our calling, we are making a commitment to align to the self that we were before we learned to hide it. Facing that self again also means we have to face layers of intense emotions like shame, guilt, humiliation, and self-loathing. 

This is why chasing your passion or trying to find your purpose isn’t working for you. You need to first find yourself, then all the other pieces will fall into place. What you are supposed to be doing in life is not something for you to decide or create. What we do naturally comes forth through the expression and overflowing of who we are. Water flows. Mountains stand tall. Birds fly. Children play. There is a nature to all things. Its nature is what is the most natural thing for it to do based on what it is and how it was made. Birds have wings, so it is natural for them to fly. You may have a gift of music, and so it is natural for you to sing. You may have intense emotions, so it is natural for you to empathize with and heal others. You may be quiet and so it is natural for you to write or work alone. You may be loud and social, so it is most natural for you to work in groups and perhaps be a fearless leader. 

Practical Steps 

The process of knowing what it is you are meant to do in this life, is the process of knowing who you are. Get your journal or a piece of paper. Make a list of all the qualities that make up your most authentic self. This is the self that you are when no one is around, and no one is looking. Don’t try to “get the right answers” here. Just write down the truth of you. Include your innate qualities, talents, and things you genuinely enjoy learning about or doing. 

It is incredibly common to feel a range of emotions while observing these things about ourselves. We may feel pride and then shame. We may feel disdain or hatred. We may feel excited, then embarrassed or guilty. This is all important information. Whatever emotion comes up in relationship with the quality or thing you’ve written, jot down how it makes you feel. You will use that information later on.

When you feel complete, look at the list you made. Contemplate and /or write down what is useful about each of those things. What function can each of the items on your list perform or be good for?  When you look at it as a whole picture, what is the most natural expression of all of those qualities? Think of the concept of “form follows function”. The look and form of your life is at its greatest efficiency when it follows the natural function of the qualities and gifts that you possess. Yes a violin can be beat like a drum, but a drum it is not. Yes, you can use your gifts and talents in unusual ways, but there are natural and logical functions of the qualities that make up who you are. You may find seemingly contradictory qualities about yourself. I assure you, that embodying the middle ground or the perfect combination of both is part of what makes your offering in the world particularly unique.  

Now that you’ve looked at how each of the pieces of who you are can be expressed in form, focus now on the negative emotions that come up when you think of offering yourself to the world. The overall feeling can range from a bit of nervousness to outright terror. This is where shadow work will come in handy. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, watch the video entitled “What is Shadow Work?” Continue to face and heal these negative beliefs and emotions until you feel excited about who you are and what that naturally calls you towards. Your calling is what is calling you to more of yourself, to your true self, and to be all the way in alignment with the self as God made you. 

The Take Away

Passion, Purpose and Calling are the holy trinity of a whole and fulfilled life. However, most people believe that you can follow your passions to find your purpose, and from there understand your calling. For those who don’t have childhood trauma around being themselves, passion, purpose and calling are still one and the same. For the rest of us, they have been held apart for quite a bit of time. We may not initially have passion for our calling. It is too natural, too easy, to inconsequential, or too “shameful” or embarrassing.

We may not initially see how it is of value to the world, and thus overlook it in favor of what our ego believes will gain us the most success. As you trust your design and begin to offer yourself to the world as you are, you begin to see the positive impact of your gifts and innate talents. That is when passion will come in to play. As you align further and further with the value of the calling of just being yourself, passion will take over and you will reveal what your purpose has been all along. 

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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