Finding My Seasonal Ministry

How one simple question helped me focus my service in a meaningful way…and feel more peace in the process.

From a young age, my search for purpose was important to me. I thought that there would be a theme to my life–some grand, highly individual mission that I and I alone was sent to fulfill on this earth. Some people were royalty, others were singers, politicians, artists…a holy few were saints or philanthropists…but what was I? What would be the one defining story of my life?

As I graduated high school and began furthering my education, this idea of a sole, grand purpose became problematic for me. I struggled to feel satisfied with any one degree program because I didn’t feel that any of them were what I was on earth to do. I placed so much importance on that one degree title, as if it had to be perfect for me.

Thanks to some rather painful life experiences, I’ve learned not to search for my “purpose” as if it were a Golden ticket that ensured my success in life. I’ll be forever grateful that God stepped in and taught me a more useful way to consider purpose and identity.

Practicing Seasonal Ministry

In November of 2017, my mom took me to Time Out for Women for the first time.*Not sponsored* We were treated to two straight days of LIFE-CHANGING talks and presentations on a given theme, which was “Arise”. One of the very first things that we were asked to do was to ponder this question:

“What is my specific ministry at this season of my life?

I had never before considered that purpose was fluid, and that God needed me in different places to fill different roles in every stage of life. This idea was novel and comforting to me, like waking up on what you thought was a Monday, only to discover it was Saturday. What a load off of my shoulders, to realize that I didn’t have to define my purpose in ONE role. As I pondered about my specific ministry at that point in my life, it became clear as day.

At that time, I was working as a CNA on a Neurological Telemetry unit, and was going through the prerequisites of nursing school. I was called upon every day to care for these sweet, sick people, many of whom were elderly, confused, and lonely.

My family was also shrinking drastically. I had just lost my grandpa Charlie, who had been living with us, and whom I had been able to draw close to just as he was getting sicker and more fragile. Our family had also lost another dear friend, who was like a grandfather to me, and my other grandfather, who had passed away in our home on hospice as well. As the only siblings near to home, my brother and I were able to help my parents care for my grandparents.

My sweet grandmother was the only one of my grandparents left, and was particularly hard to care for. It was clear, then, that this season of my life was dedicated to helping my parents and spending time with my grandma.

IMG_4104
Nola Vale Matthews- My most treasured ministry yet.

I’ll be honest–this wasn’t the answer that I was hoping for. This ministry was personal, and it was hard, and it tried my patience more than I wanted it to. It also didn’t feel like it was grand enough. It didn’t make any sort of impact on the world outside of my home. I accepted it, but somewhat grudgingly.

When my Grandmother passed away, I felt lost without someone to care for. Nursing didn’t feel right, and work was becoming unbearable, because I didn’t feel that it was where I was needed anymore.

Instead of feeling that I had “failed” at nursing, or that I had given up on yet another major, I put seasonal ministry to the test, and reminded myself that it was just a season of my life drawing to a close. It was a painful, bitter close to a hard chapter in life, and I felt aimless in my family and in my education for months at a time. I couldn’t figure out where I was needed. Little did I know that while Heaven was silent, God was preparing the next season of my life, and a new and beautiful ministry was coming with it.

Finding our Seasonal Ministry brings Peace

It took about a year for me to figure out what this new season in my life entailed, and it was just recently that I’ve really come to recognize my new ministry…my next purpose. Nothing feels more reassuring or enabling than knowing where I am needed and what my focus needs to be in life, although the road from purpose to purpose is rarely straight or well-paved.

brown wooden dock surrounded with green grass near mountain under white clouds and blue sky at daytime
(pc-Tyler Lastovich)

Redefining my personal ministry after change occurs in my life has also brought a sense of peace and has prevented me from stretching too thin. I don’t feel the need to “do it all”, because I have the reassurance that what I’m doing is exactly where God needs me. I’m able to focus my time on what matters most, and let everything else fall to the wayside. It’s freeing, being relieved from the pressure that the world puts on us to do and be everything. I don’t have to be the woman who can “do it all”. I just have to be the woman who can do what God needs me to do, and not stress about the rest.

Honoring our Seasonal Ministry Builds our Relationship with God

When I realized that my purpose would change throughout life, I also realized that I had a choice. I could accept my new roles and purpose with grace and faith, or I could stubbornly cling to my idea of what I should do and be.

I’ve decided to try and give God permission to work His will. I’ve decided to show Him that He can trust Daniel and I and that we will do our best to serve Him in ANY situation that we’ve been placed in. We will strive to say, through our actions;

“I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea, I’ll say what you want me to say Dear Lord, I’ll be what you want me to be.”

Not only do I feel that God trusts me more as I devote myself to a life of changing purpose, but I have learned to trust HIM more. When a disappointment, a death, an abrupt change, or a prompting to do something scary comes along, I’m more apt to act in faith, because I know that all of these things are for my good, and will give me an opportunity to realize a new, glorious purpose.

I am far from perfect at this. I was born innately stubborn, as well as innately anxious to see the whole picture. Fear of the unknown is paralyzing and all consuming to me. But God has worked too many miracles for me not to actively seek to trust him.

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