Recently, at the end of a conference session where CJ and I fielded questions, a woman approached me with a query of her own: “So what do you do on the side?” she inquired.
“On the side?” I echoed, not fully comprehending her question.
“What do you do for personal fulfillment?” she sought to clarify. “You see I’m happy my husband has his ministry because that provides him with personal fulfillment. But I pursue my own hobbies because they provide personal fulfillment for me. So,” she repeated again, “What do you do?”
I was unprepared for her question. And I’m sure my answer was insufficient. (How often I have an eloquent answer after the conversation is over!) If I had it to do over again, I’d tell her about Dorothy.
Dorothy was a woman who knew the secret of true “personal fulfillment.” A single mom whose husband left her with a son to raise, Dorothy didn’t spend time worrying about herself. Instead, she was always serving and caring for others. I knew her because she was my Sunday School teacher. And Dorothy was one of the most joyful women I knew.
At my bridal shower everyone wrote down a piece of advice on a slip of paper. I only remember one, and it was Dorothy’s. Her secret to a fulfilled life? “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Our culture is constantly telling us to find our life; that we’re the center of our world, and as such, we need to take care of “me” first. We need to find what fulfills us and not let anyone or anything (especially a husband or children) get in the way.
But when I’m the center of my world, my world becomes very small—because I’m the only person in it. When I try to find fulfillment in anything besides loving Christ and serving Him, I will only end up more frustrated and completely unfulfilled.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I think we as women should express our creativity, and even more importantly get sufficient rest. But the purpose of creativity should be to glorify God with our gifts, not to find “personal fulfillment,” and the goal of rest should be to strengthen us for service, not to carve out “time for ourselves.”
If we want “personal fulfillment" as women, we must not follow our culture’s prescription of selfishness. Rather, we must lose our life for Christ's sake. Then, amazingly, we'll find that our world expands. We'll know the thrill of seeing the fruit of our sacrificial service in the lives of those around us. So for true "personal fulfillment," let’s follow Dorothy’s example as she followed Christ.