I grew up in a religious subculture that was very certain about who God was and how God operated. Very often I heard, “God loves you and has a plan for your life!” At times this was a comforting thought—after all, wouldn’t it be nice if someone else mapped out my life for me and made sure everything worked according to plan?
But over the years I’ve come to appreciate God’s lack of pushiness. Yes, God loves me. And, yes, God has a plan, but it’s a huge plan, one that encompasses the universe. If I want to cooperate with that plan, I’m invited to join the party. But in order to participate in God’s big plan, I have to make choices every day—about the kind of person I want to be, about the priorities I keep, about the loves I nurture.
In other words, I live God’s “plan” for my life in the ongoing process of discernment. I cooperate with God’s loving the world by becoming love myself. And I fulfill God’s plan for me by growing up, by becoming an adult who is wise and compassionate. That happens day by day, and through many life lessons.
I no longer believe that there’s a connect-the-dots plan for Vinita’s life. Every day, Vinita has options, and some are better than others. Some are obviously wrong and harmful, but many are variations on good. As I learn to distinguish what is the best of the good, that’s called growth.
What’s my purpose? To grow into my God-created potential to love. That happens as I make decisions, but it involves more than that. I become my best self as I become more intimately engaged with God.
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are all about learning how to engage with God—and thus fulfill the amazing gift and purpose within us. So it’s really not about a plan; it’s about a relationship.
If someone asked you, “What’s your purpose on this earth?” what would you say?
This post is a part of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, Week 1.