1. Identity and Purpose
“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” (1 Corinthians 7:7 KJV)
Everyone Has Purpose
All people have incredible potential: each individual dotted along all sides of life’s up and down curve. People with problems, people without, people who are considered beautiful, people who are not. Intellectual scholars, artists, dancers, writers, sports people, dreamers. Each of you is unique, wonderful. All of you have something to give to the world. If your talents are yet to be discovered, bring them to the fore. When you are passionate about what you are able to do, you will find your identity and truly live your purpose. Do not allow the world to stop you from being yourself. Each of you has your own role, and your own contribution, to make to the world. We are all part of this great, big, wonderful place.
Lessons from Nature
Consider some examples from nature: A dragonfly flits about on double gossamer wings, alights next to water for a brief instant, and then darts to the next resting spot. A butterfly bounces daintily through the air on soft flapping wings, floating and bobbing around, and is buoyed upwards momentarily, seeming to catch the next breeze, before she floats gently downwards. Each has its own beauty. To some the bulbous eyes of a dragonfly might seem ugly, but to others they are wondrous creatures, and of course, another dragonfly will see beauty. I marvel at how dragonfly wings sparkle in the sun: dragonflies are beautiful.
Examples of nature’s magnificent design are everywhere around us. Each species fits perfectly into its niche, like parts of a giant puzzle: ants that form a symbiotic relationship with aphids on a twig, plants pollinated by bees, lions that keep the population of impalas in check. If one species is removed from an ecosystem, often some part is affected. Imagine if bees did not exist?
There are examples too when things go out of kilter. Introducing foreign species into areas where they never existed before sometimes has unfortunate consequences, as these foreign species may have no natural predators. An example is the introduction of cane toads to Australia. Their population is exploding and advancing in a march across the mainland, and they are negatively impacting native wildlife. Cane toads were never designed to live in Australia, but they are a successful species that have few natural predators. Versatility is a tremendous skill to have as a pioneer, and may take the existing ecosystem by surprise. Change happens sometimes slowly, unnoticed at first, and then like a rush: the inevitability of change.
Cheetahs Versus Lions
Cheetahs are designed for short sprints across the African savannah. They stalk their prey by stealth, usually on their own, and then rely on an amazing burst of speed to bring their prey down. Lions, on the other hand, are team workers who send a few members to flank their prey, and then use their strength in numbers to bring down their prey. The more specialised cheetah, unfortunately, has difficulty adapting to areas it is not designed for. It cannot sprint in overgrown areas, and needs to live in areas where it can hunt in the open. What stupendous predators these animals are, each in their own different way.
The Purpose of Raisins (Dried Grapes)
I discovered raisins afresh at a training course I attended. Have you ever held a number of raisins in your hand? Hold some in your hand sometime and try this:
Smell them. Raisins have a distinctive smell and you know they are raisins, unless you have never smelt a raisin before! Savour the moment. It is interesting to consider that raisins come from drying grapes. How marvellous it is that grapes can be transformed into raisins, or take liquid form as grape juice and alcohol. Grapes that might have been wasted otherwise, and have had a shortened lifespan, are transformed into something else that fills a different niche: sweeter, smaller, versatile, perfect for snacking, or for covering with chocolate, for adding to baking. Gaze at the raisins. Each is different, unique, yet they are all raisins. Some raisins may be quite wrinkled, others smoother; some may be small and others bigger. Taste a raisin. If you had never tasted a raisin before, would you have known it was this sweet, and perchance a bit tart? Did you bite into a pip perhaps? Some raisins hold surprises! Chew the raisin until it disappears into nothingness as you swallow it down. It is remarkable that something so small fulfills a distinct role and can be used for so many purposes.
I have always just accepted raisins, and never considered that they might be exceptional in any way. This lesson showed me that there are opportunities all around us to look with fresh eyes at the things we take for granted, including everyday objects like raisins. What would we use if we did not have raisins? Would you miss raisins if you did not know they could be fashioned?
What other surprises does the world around you hold? What surprises do the people all around you hold? What undiscovered talents do many people have that are yet to be discovered and used, even by people themselves? Are you aware of each of your own possible talents?