“In the movies, we have the leading lady, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, you’re a leading lady. But for some reason, you’re acting like the best friend.”
“Of course! You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life!”
Arthur and Iris from The Holiday
As I have had ample opportunity over the past few weeks to contemplate my purpose in life (along with my goals, my dreams, my desires, my identity, my mistakes, my future, my past… let’s just say there has been a lot of contemplating), I’ve concluded (so far) that I’d make an excellent supporting actress. Always ready with a punchline, a witty comment, an encouraging word, I’m there to support my loved ones whenever they need it. But like Alice concluded when she was lost in Wonderland, “I try to give myself very good advice… but I very seldom follow it.”
So I wonder… What if that is my purpose in life? Pop in and out of people’s lives, offer encouragement, support them on whatever journey/struggle they’re currently in, move on to who next needs me. Lately, I’ve been strongly identifying with such helpful and lonely characters. Examples would include Mary Poppins, Mr. Magorium, The Doctor, and maybe even Willy Wonka. They help move people’s stories along, but it is not their story that is being told.
Is that such a bad thing?
This probably comes across as very self-pitying, but that’s not my intent. I love sharing in my friends’ stories and joys and struggles! I had lived for so long, waiting for my own story to happen (the way I thought it was supposed to), yet all I found was disappointment with a dash of bitterness. When I altered my thinking to supporting them, sharing in their lives, and with their families when I could, I found meaning and happiness. On a side note, I found my feeling of belonging to a community that I had been starving for, sometimes without realizing that’s what was lacking.
Do I have a story? Absolutely. Just like you do. My story is simply not following the same society-expected pattern as many of my friends. And it should be noted that same pattern was the expectations I myself thought I was supposed to fulfill. Without realizing it, I’m breaking out of the norm and doing my own thing, a habit I established for myself long ago in my school days. If that decision has somehow affected where I am now, I was ignorant of its powers back then. Even so, I don’t regret it. Someone has to be different. I quite enjoy it (usually).
But now I wonder… To some extent, isn’t supporting others through life’s struggles a shared purpose? As Christians, aren’t we supposed to put others before ourselves? Maybe that’s too big of a leap.
I enjoy my Mary Poppins life. I want to be able to bring more people into that life. I’m sure that will happen when the time comes; God does things on His schedule, not mine. Anyway, all these thoughts… So what’s the point?
I’m glad to remember I have a purpose. I can’t see exactly all the details that are involved in the next step, but that’s okay. I had to remember that “I don’t know right now” is okay. I’d forgotten. It dragged me down to a place of negative thinking. We need people in our lives to share with us the good things we’d forgotten about ourselves. We need people to reassure us that “this too shall pass.” And yeah, we sometimes need those people in our lives to give us a swift kick in the rear to move on and end the pity party. (Think Rafiki and Simba from The Lion King and the stick lesson).
If my life is to be the best friend character, I’m okay with that. I gladly accept that. That’s my role; and we can’t all have the same function. We were meant to be united, not uniform.