There are a lot of people in the world that think a lot about purpose. There was a survey once that asked millennials what their biggest fear was, and the majority answer was living a life without purpose. We want to know why we are put here on this earth, and we want to live our life feeling like we spent it doing exactly what we were meant to do. Sometimes that is a hobby, sometimes a job, or could be some kind of ministry or volunteer work. For me, it was skateboarding. Skateboarding was once the center of my life, I thought I connected with God and people the most through it, and I felt like God put me on this earth to skateboard. I took it so seriously that I wouldn’t let myself do a lot of things. I didn’t want anything getting in the way of what I felt like I was meant to do. Skateboarding was my purpose in life, my calling, my destiny, my reason for living. Until one day… I couldn’t do it anymore.
There was a time in my early twenties when I was living in Florida working with an action sports ministry that I will never forget. They were thinking about starting a wakeboarding ministry at a cable park and wanted to take us there to check it out. Which, If you’re not familiar, a cable park is when they have the handle that pulls you around the lake connected to cables instead of a boat. I told the ministry director that I was not going to wakeboard, I only skate, and when we went to the cable park, I just sat on the shore while everyone wakeboarded. They kept trying to get me to get out there, but I wouldn’t do it. I was too committed to skateboarding. This happened another time with surfing. We were on a trip and everyone wanted to surf. They wanted me to surf with them, and I refused, so I just sat on the shore and waited for them to finish. I was put on this earth to skate, and that was all I was going to do. I look back on that time now and think, “how ridiculous, I probably would have had a lot of fun wakeboarding and surfing.” In my mind, I wasn’t going to waste my time and energy doing anything else. My commitment to skateboarding was almost like a religious fervor, “thou shall not have any other thing before skateboarding.” I lived this way because I felt like I had to, like I was destined to do awesome things with skateboarding and if I did anything else I was cheating myself out of destiny and changing the trajectory of my life. I was determined to change the world through my cool, hip persona as a dreadlocked, Christian skateboarder that wrote blogs about faith. I needed to protect this at all costs or else I might lose it. I needed to skate, film, write, post videos and blogs, and there was no other way I could live in the world. I lived a very strict, religious kind of life that didn’t allow for a lot of freedom. When I finally let it die, I would finally find my freedom.
I became so burned out in always having to make sure I was skating, filming, posting, writing my skate blogs, and upholding my image; I began to lose all joy I had in skateboarding. I felt like someone who stayed in a bad, toxic relationship for a long time because they felt like they had to and it was the right thing to do, and when they finally broke it off, couldn’t believe how free and liberating it was. I could finally do all kinds of things that my religious fervor to skateboarding wouldn’t allow me to do. I could play the saxophone, join a softball league, start paddleboarding, diving, hiking, etc. There are so many things that I denied myself for a long time because I “had to” skateboard, and it was all I would allow myself to do. It was my purpose, my calling, my destiny, my image. But I wasn’t living in freedom that way, that was bondage. I chose to live in bondage because I felt like God was calling me to be so, which is quite the mind-bender for me. I willingly put myself in a box because I was so convinced great, awesome things would come of it.
It’s funny to me how often we attach calling and purpose to anything we like doing. If we like doing something, it must be our calling or purpose in the world. Skateboarding, playing an instrument, graphic design, film, photography, so on and so forth. We can’t just do something because it is enjoyable, it has to be coupled with why we are here on this earth. I used to feel like skateboarding was my purpose, but now that I am not really doing it that much, did my purpose change? Do I still have a purpose? Is my purpose now playing the saxophone or playing softball? When we really dissect this philosophy it starts to sound a bit ridiculous. I really enjoy playing the saxophone, but I am not going to stamp calling and purpose on it. It’s fun, I enjoy it, I feel God when I play, but I don’t have to make it about that. Whether or not it is a part of my purpose in life, it doesn’t make me play any more or any less, or change any outcome that comes of it. It doesn’t really matter in the end what my purpose or calling is, because it doesn’t change or affect how I live and what I do in the slightest. I am always going to do things that I find enjoyable, and I am always going to find people to connect with in whatever I decide to do. I don’t need to put myself in any box and tell myself that I was put here on this earth to do this one thing and make sure I put more focus on that than I do with anything else. I can connect and have an impact with lots of different people through lots of different things, I don’t need to hold one above all others.
I used to think that I connect with God and people the most through skateboarding, which made me feel like I couldn’t do the same with other things. I couldn’t really do it with my job, or at the grocery store, or playing sports, because none of that was as effective as what I could do with skateboarding. I put myself and God in a box, telling myself that I could only feel God and connect with people in my little box that only had room for skateboarding. Now that I have ditched the box I feel God more than ever. He is everywhere and in everything. At the grocery store, at my little coffee shop job, on the softball field, at the river, so on and so forth. My purpose is just to love God and love people, which is so broad it doesn’t deserve a thought. I live my purpose every minute of every day in everything I do without trying and without a thought about it. I don’t need to deny myself things that could be fun because those don’t fit in the box. Everything I do will have opportunities to connect with people, there is no hobby or job that is above another because God hasn’t called me to that one. God doesn’t call us to hobbies or jobs, he calls us to love Him and people, which can happen in anything. In the end, it doesn’t matter what my purpose or calling is, for whatever hobby or job I do or find enjoyable, I will feel God and connect with people, which is all I am expected to do with my time here on this earth. This commitment we get to some perceived calling will often bring a lot of drudgery and misery to our lives. I wish I knew now back in my early twenties that God doesn’t desire me to live in drudgery and misery in order to fulfill some calling I have convinced myself of. If my “calling” feels like a burden then that’s a good sign that I am doing something wrong. God will move in our lives in whatever we do and in whatever we find enjoyable. There is no need to pin down one thing and put ourselves in a box. Let go of what we think our purpose is and we will truly find God and ourselves.