Pondering Your Purpose in Life? It's All Relative

What is it about reaching the midpoint of life that sets off the alarm bells about making sure our lives matter? Should we change direction, start over, adjust mid-course? And how in the world can we be happy through it all?

Maybe it's all relative. Or maybe it has something to do with my relatives. Maybe you can relate? 

{Overuse of the word relate intended!}

On Mother's Day I rode with my sister and her family to church. Since my brother-in-law’s mother also went with us, I was sitting with my nephew in the way-back row of my sister's SUV, where I could be a quiet observer.

Just as we’re ready to depart, my brother-in-law can’t find his sunglasses. We wait for him while he looks in the other car, and just as he gets back in, my niece says wait, she forgot her earbuds and disappears into house. 

When she returns, my sister asks the kids if they remembered to bring the gift bag sitting in the kitchen for their grandmother. They say no so my sister gets out of the car, but they call her back saying wait, they have the gift after all.

Finally we roll out of the garage.

Just one exit down the highway my sister chokes on a bite of granola bar and has a coughing fit that lasts all the way to the next exit.

Which we miss. 

My brother-in-law says my sister’s coughing fit made him forget where he was going. 

From the center lane, he takes the SUV over the grassy median to rejoin the exit ramp we were supposed to be on. {No worries, no one was harmed during this stunt.}

We finally arrive at the church parking lot and as my brother-in-law backs the car into a parking space, my nephew decides to show me a video on his phone.

As we’re backing in, someone lays on the horn. We jerk to a stop and all look around. No one seems to be near us. “WHAT was THAT?” my brother-in-law asks.

My nephew sheepishly realizes the horn was coming from the video on his phone.

“Oh Dad, that was my video,” he says. “Remember that time you laid on the horn to scare Mom and I recorded it?”

My sister interrupts, “Yes we all remember it, but why are you playing it now?”

Whatever my nephew wanted to show me now seems unimportant as he puts his phone back in his pocket.

We pile out of the car and I’m somehow handed my niece’s stuffed animal dog, complete with a leash to carry into church. 

I make a mental note to drive my own car to church next time. 

Just to preserve my peace of mind {or at least preserve a piece of my mind}.

It's all relative, isn't it? 

There’s always a way that seems smoother, a life that looks more beautiful, more rewarding, more peaceful than ours. 

There’s always one that seems richer, with accomplishments greater, and a path that seems easier than the one we're on.

But maybe our place, our role, our purpose in life has less to do with what we make of it and more to do with how we receive what we've been given.

That dry and dusty desert is what transforms us as we refresh ourselves in the springs of solitude as an oasis to experience God alone. 

Those times we’re overlooked, passed over and rejected, turn the clay and rocks into fertile ground and uproot the stubborn weeds of self-importance and resentment. 

The years spent waiting are the beautifully hand-lettered invitations to dwell and linger in the lavish mercy and grace of God.

The hours of simply serving when no one notices bestow the secret titles that will one day be renown. 

So maybe climbing the corporate ladder, chasing dreams and making my own way isn't really the standard I want to set for myself.

Maybe mid-life is about really seeing with my heart and soul and mind what it's all about.

Maybe it's about living my real-life that's been given to me, here and now, and aspiring to live a holy life, as we all are called to do.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. - 2 Tim 1:9

A few days later, I have another outing planned with the relatives.

I'm waiting on the curb for my sister to pick me up to see the play “Mary Poppins,” staged by my niece and nephew’s school. The car is full and once again, I'm a passenger.

My brother-in-law opens the door and says, “Welcome to the Mary Poppins bus.”

I climb in and suddenly realize what I need. 

Perhaps a spoonful of sugar would help when I go on these traveling escapades with the relatives.

In the most delightful way, of course.

I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart. Join me there for more posts from my blogging friends!


  1. Ah, the family dynamics make me smile, Valerie! We've had a few packed cars here and there, and it's always a bit of an adventure, isn't it, especially when we're used to being on our own.

    And your words about the journey that we're taking individually are well spoken, friend, as I continue to negotiate life in this new season. I think a door might possibly be opening for me ... and I'm waiting to see what it might look like to walk through it to what awaits on the other side ...

    1. Linda,
      I'm excited that new doors are opening for you -- that is encouraging and something fresh to pursue! I'm sure new adventures await!

  2. I smile at your account of the family car ride, Valerie. I love your thoughts about living the real life we are given here and now. And as the verse says, "because of His own purpose and grace." Also how God has such beautiful purposes in the dry desert and in the years spent waiting. Thank you for this encouragement today, my friend. Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Trudy,
      Sometimes it takes looking at our life a little differently to make sense of it, doesn't it? I'm learning that's one of the benefits of maturity and growing a little more graceful as we get older! I find that more I do know of God, I want to know even more! xo

  3. Valerie, Once again your everyday experiences open up a world of beauty when you paint the pictures! Thank you for these sweet thoughts: "The years spent waiting are the beautifully hand-lettered invitations to dwell and linger in the lavish mercy and grace of God." I am longing to see my days now in that light. I hope you don't mind, but I tagged you in my own blogpost this week, thanking you for your encouragement to share my adventures! :-) *HUGS* and Many Blessings to you today!!

    1. Bettie,
      I was delighted to read your blog post today and I'm so honored you were prompted to tell your story of your trip to Vietnam! You are such a positive woman and I'm so glad to have connected with you via our blogs, friend! xo

  4. Yep I've had a few of those types of car rides...! A spoon full (or two!) of sugar, among other things, probably would have helped a lot! LOL! Marry Poppins sounds like a fun play! Mom and I saw the local high school's performance of The Music Man a few weeks back (the boy was playing bass in the pit orchestra) Good stuff! Thanks for making the wait just a little sweeter today and reminding me to count the crazy family I've been given among my blessings. ♥ xo

    1. Heather,
      The Music Man! I'll bet that was a fun performance and how great that you got to hear a very special bass player! :) And yes, I need a lot of help sometimes on those crazy family car trips! :)

  5. I always appreciate your take on the simple, daily "stuff." I can completely relate to the chaos that takes place when the four of us would set out to go places together. There were always trips back into the house for something!

    Maybe our purpose in life has less to do with what we make of it and more to do with how we receive what we've been given. Now that is something I can put on my bathroom mirror to read every day! Thank you again for allowing us into your heart and giving us encouragement and inspiration.


    1. Hi Shawna,
      I'm sure that rowdiness is quite normal for a mom and kids but it seems more like chaos to me! Maybe things are REALLY good and we just don't realize how good, right? Grateful for your sweet words here! :)

  6. What fun! How cool is it that you are able to spend so much time with your sister and her family?! Love it! Plus, they give you lots of fun stories to tell later :)

    1. Alecia,
      Yes, I'm in it for the stories! I almost enjoy retelling them more than living them! :)

  7. It's so true, Valerie. There is something about age that makes us loosen our grip on all the "rules" and realize what's really important. I for one really enjoy the perspective my 40s have brought. There is a freedom from going after what we think we should have, and instead just enjoying what we've been given...well, at least that's my heart's desire. I can still get wrapped up in the nonsense from time to time. Thanks for sharing a piece of your heart and family. I feel like I know them...especially the husband character searching for his sunglasses. ;)

    1. Tiffany,
      i wouldn't have guessed you're in your 40s :) but it's so true that maturity gives us a little distance from our lives, doesn't it? Sooner or later that mid-life arrives for all of us! Thank you for your kind words here about my family stories, too! :)

  8. Oh, Valerie, how beautiful - and funny! The escapades we have with our relatives do seem to bring life into focus, don't they?

    1. Hi Ellen,
      They do! Laughing or rolling my eyes at it all -- families are great for comedic interludes!

  9. Yes, maybe it is all about living our own lives in the here and now, in pursuit of the holiness that God calls us to. Even at my advanced age I often find myself waiting anxiously for what's next instead of enjoying what is. I love your family stories and this one made me laugh . . . and . . . also made me feel thankful that I am no longer in the midst of that stage of life.
    Blessings friend,

  10. Patti,
    I can relate that I still look ahead and think what's around the corner might be so much better, but it's only that my vision is skewed, I think, because that's what comparing tries to rob us of -- our enjoyment of the present! So glad to hear your thoughts on this!

  11. Hi Valerie! This is so good and what i needed to hear tonight! :) i will pray and ask God to help me receive what he has given me- I have felt restless for something new lately though can't seem to figure out what or when I would have time for it- may its a mid life thing! Idk- anyway happy to come home and catch up on things and read your beautiful blog! thank you for encouraging me! xox

    1. Susie,
      I missed you last week but know you were having a marvelous time with your family! I'm with you on feeling restless (and yes, maybe we're reflecting and pondering our lives at mid-point!) but when no answers are coming (for me too!) I'm wondering if waiting and savoring may be the solution and soon enough a path will emerge and at the same time God will whisper, this is the way, move on out now . . . Looking forward to your words this week! xoxo

  12. Great perspective Valerie! Thanks so much for posting this :)


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