Context and Purpose

“Context is king”–so goes the saying, and I think there is no concept to which it is more applicable than that of purpose.

I struggle with purpose and meaning questions basically every day of my life because I’m a dreamer and a big-picture thinker fighting to figure out how to incorporate my hopes and dreams into the smallness of the day-to-day reality called “living.”

It’s the reason I skip out on laundry and frequently get caught with nothing but a rotting apple or foodstuff-of-unusual-color in the fridge when I try to pack my lunch. The absurdity of having to wash clothes when I just did a load, or of having to cook another meal when I just ate one drives me nuts. I can cognitively grasp the necessity of clean clothes and fresh (or at least non-rotten) meals, but these small and time-consuming tasks don’t fit into my utopia-fueled vision of what life is supposed to look like.

All this meaning-pondering can very quickly lead one down the slippery slope to discontent. There is not a whole lot of inherent meaning or purpose in figuring out the best way to freeze lentils or in washing yet another dish from yet another meal or wiping up the Sprite you just kicked all over the living room for the 3rd time that month. (True story. I think it’s a sign I should de-sodafy my life.)

But that’s the perspective that develops when you look at the tasks without gospel-context. Without the gospel, day-in and day-out tasks seem meaningless because they kind of are meaningless. Without the gospel, even bigger things like a job, or paying bills, or disciplining a child can start to seem devoid of purpose.

But the gospel changes that. The context of the Lord’s story, and my part in it, means that even washing dishes one more time can be an act of service and character-building that will mean something in eternity. It means that no act, however small, is meaningless, and that even if my big dreams never come to fruition, it does not mean my life was wasted or poorly lived.

So praise God for the gospel, amirite? I’m so grateful that there is a God who is writing my life story, even in the mundane details, redeeming the bits that I overlook or straight up don’t like into something remarkable. I’m thankful that my tiny story-thread is being woven into a tale that is unfathomably beautiful and timeless.

This context, the idea that I am not the heroine of the story, but by golly, I’m in the midst of the greatest story ever, is a game-changer. It makes it safe to fail–the story doesn’t end with me. It makes it safe to dream and try to act big–I’m not ultimately responsible for my success or failure. It makes it ok for me to be myself rather than striving to live like some other person, because the Storyteller wants to work with an original story from me, not some imitation story of somebody else, no matter how glamorous their story may seem. It transforms even the boring or disliked tasks into story-pieces with the potential for great meaning.

In what areas have you lost or are you at risk of losing gospel-context in your life?

2 thoughts on “Context and Purpose

  1. This reminded me of two songs: “Everything You Do” by S. C. Chapman and “Write Your Story” by Francesca Batesteli (or something like that). Have you heard them?
    I, too, love reading what you write; keep it up!

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