Hey all! I’m Natalie J. Williams, native Idahoan and lover of hiking, running, and the arts. When Sarah reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to write a blog post on living out your purpose, and how I am doing that personally, my initial reaction was “of course!” and then the follow up was, “gosh, I don’t think I’m qualified.
I am nervous about this one, but I am not going to let the fear of failure or ‘what if’s’ stop me from a new opportunity. And that brings me right into Sarah’s first question for this post -- what am I most passionate about?
I want to live my life to the fullest. That sounds a little cheesy but let me unpack it for you. It has been a process of years to be where I am now. Working through fear and emotional strongholds. I have seen that in my personal life. How fear makes me draw away from people when I should move toward them, how it makes me shy away from a hard decision that could catapult me into amazing new opportunities. How it keeps me from wearing certain clothes or saying a certain thing. Habits or safety mechanisms I had developed while growing up, things that helped keep me safe then, but that were not serving me well anymore. I am still conquering those fears, daily. I have seen how fear has affected people closest to me, effected the choices they make, how they live out their everyday lives, and how it effects their long-term decisions. I don’t want that to be the story of my life – “She let fear lead her”. I don’t want that to be the tagline to describe my life path, the trajectory of the few precious years I have on this earth. I want it to be “She used her gifts and lived life to the fullest.”
That is what I am passionate about. That is how I want to be living.
This manifests in a lot of ways, and I will share a little more on how it’s shown up in my personal life.
How did you discover or how do you know what your purpose is?
I am on a journey with this one. I’m beginning to get an idea, but I haven’t seen the full picture. For years I was constantly asking that question, of God, myself, and the people closest to me – what’s my purpose? What do you see for me? Where are my strengths? And those times when I was so frustrated with God, “Why can’t you just tell me what to do next?”
A huge part of this journey has been learning about who I am, who God created me to be. All those years of questions, of so many different jobs as I tried to find my calling and purpose, and what seemed like false starts. What I can see now is that it was all a part of my gaining a better understanding of who I am. Of what my design is. Maybe some of us are blessed with a particular sense of self, or it’s nurtured well in them, but that has not been the case for me. It has been – is – a hard journey of self-discovery. Growing up in a toxic environment of emotional abuse, isolation, and neglect -- I learned I was resilient, and my experiences gave me unique insight into other’s needs. I learned my strength for creativity and leadership. I learned I loved working with people. Each encounter and opportunity was a way to grow and better understand the person God created me to be, and ultimately, the purposes he has for me.
How do you live out your purpose daily?
I love this question! Four years ago I was housesitting for a family that lived on a farm in Northern Idaho. It was a 30 minute drive to work every morning, and I had to get up early to take care of their animals. It was November, so it was up before the sun and it was cold and snowy. By the time I was nearing the end of my 2 weeks stay, I was starting to fray. At the time I was working full time at a job that kept me stressed. I was questioning whether I should move on, even though the position was a good career choice. It was also the first time in my life I did not go home for the holidays, and that brought a whole new set of emotions. Guys, it would not be an exaggeration to say I was falling apart. On one of my last days there I woke up with a migraine headache and called in to work. It was the best thing I could have done that day. It was just me in that house with God and I let him have it. I was exhausted physically and emotionally and demanding to know what I was supposed to do next. Would it be irresponsible of me to quit this job and career? What would I even do if I did? I was beyond frustrated and hopeless. And in that moment, I gave up and told God that I was not going to try and control my life anymore. “My life is yours. Do with it what you want.” I believed those words, for the first time in my life. God was in control, and even though up to that point I had been trying to make every decision for myself, it had not helped anything. It was like fighting over the steering wheel, and the car was swerving all over the road. It’s that day I look back to and see how everything changed. “God, my life is yours. Do with it what you will”. I am not in charge, and while I’d like to say that sits well with me, most of the time I struggle with that knowledge. I constantly remind myself that he has a plan for me, and I just need to be faithful to the piece he’s given me in this moment.
What are some challenges you run into following your passion and purpose?
I think of two things in answer to this question. One, I struggle with the partnership God invites me to. The idea of free will and the ability to make decisions for my life, but also recognizing God’s plan for me. My life is his, but that does not give me license to live in apathy. It’s something I continue to learn. And two, I struggle with people’s opinions. Almost two years ago, I quit a career in the auto industry to pursue opening a nonprofit. I started researching and asking questions, and out of the blue I was given the opportunity to move 7 hours away and start working for a nonprofit I had only heard of 2 weeks before. It was a new city where I knew no one, and my closest family member would be 5 hours away. I moved 3 months later. During that process, I had one question over and over from people: why?
And the answer from me was always the same – because I know this is where God wants me. I know it. As soon as I sent in that job application, I knew. I started packing and begin the process of transferring my lease. I didn’t receive confirmation until 2 weeks later that I had been hired. I wish I could say it is always that simple. That somehow the Holy Spirit assures me that this is where God wants me. This is the right choice. I rarely have that level assurance. It’s normally full of doubt and questions, and stepping out in hesitant faith. Taking a tumble or two, because guess what? I was wrong. But the call is the same, with each decision – I am still seeking to live out the purpose God has called me to.
What would you say to someone who doesn’t know what their purpose is or is struggling to live it out?
This is a tough one for me as well. I don’t know if I will ever ‘arrive’ at my purpose – I do believe that it will become clearer to me as I push into my gifts. We have all been given specific gifting and for those of us whose giftings aren’t as tangible as math skills or who are obvious artists, I feel like it can be hard to really home in on what those gifts are.
A tactic that has been instrumental for me has been to learn more about my specific personality, and who Natalie is. It’s easier to see what my purpose could be when I know who I am and where my gifting is. It’s only been in the last year that I have started to explore personality typing, and while I don’t recommend living by it, some personality tests can be helpful in realizing aspects of your character you may not see otherwise. I’ve found the enneagram system to be helpful. At this time in my life, I am excited to be able to be doing something I love. I currently work as a volunteer coordinator for a nonprofit organization called JEMfriends. Our focus is to help youth aging-out of the foster care system and who may be facing homelessness. Our mission is to provide independent housing, life skills, and community. When I first joined the JEMfriends team I was hired as an resident advisor, a staff member who lives in one of our homes with the youth. Since then, I’ve been committed full-time to volunteer coordinating and spreading awareness for youth facing homelessness in Idaho.
If you are interested in learning more about us, go to www.jemfriends.org or find us on Facebook or on Instagram at JemSupport.
If you'd like to learn more about how I can help you live a life full of Passion & Purpose you can find me at www.pathwaycoaching.net When you visit, make sure to schedule a complimentary discovery session!