I suspect that one day, Little Person may turn out to be a vegetarian. She’s currently fascinated by the idea that some animas are herbivores, some carnivores and some omnivores. So she looks at the sheep grazing in the field and announces that they are herbivores. A similar pronouncement was made over a vegetarian friend, much to our amusement.
All of which had me thinking about how eco-systems in nature work – there are plants and animals and “things” to ensure that the system continues to run smoothly. Not just the such and such eats such and such kind of thing, but also the way that tree roots and shrubbery collect rainwater, which stops flooding, which preserves the habitat, and the way that different animals mimic each other as defence mechanisms, and there are day animals and night animals, animals for under the earth, and in the sea, and in the sky. All working together beautifully and gruesomely and elegantly.
Which in turn got me to thinking about people. Because I reckon that, psychologically speaking at least, we’re an eco-system too. A very broken eco-system. We all were born with things we do well, passions that drive us, and things we do less well. God gave each of us a purpose, whether we believe Him or not. (So for all you humanists out there, you were put on this earth for a reason, got it? ;-) )
But it’s not just that, we were made to live in community. Even a comparative hermit like myself enjoys company from time to time. Our purposes fit together like an eco-system. The problems we see, the passions that motivate us, the things we dream about – all that fits together. There are some who like to make others laugh, others to comfort, others to nourish. There are those who live loud and call our attention, and those that make sure that there is food on our tables and shoes on our feet.
Of course, for the whole system to work, we need to be living out our purpose to the benefit of others, knowing that it will balance out, and that the care and provision we give out will enable others to provide and care for us. That way, the people who only have laughter to give can have a shoulder to cry on when they need it, and so on. (This would be one of the cool things about heaven, I think – because people will be living for each other rather than just for themselves.)
But we’re people, and as such we don’t always see the big picture – we can’t see how it all fits together (if you need evidence for this assertion, I have two words – climate change). We live selfishly, and we live scared. Instead of empowering others, we feel threatened by them, and we scar them and thwart their purposes. And then we wonder why the world is broken. We get so busy building our little kingdoms, looking no further than our little purpose, that we become like elephants destroying their habitats. And then we wonder why we, and our children, are hungry.
This is my answer. This is my rallying cry. Don’t shy away from your purpose. But don’t pursue it for your own ends either. We are all in this together, we are all a little bit broken by this world, but I am sure that if we pursue our purpose for the benefit of those around us, we will all be better off.
Go on. Because there is more at stake here than just your happiness.