the noble thing
I used to work for a fairly large church back in my heyday. Over a period of about eight years, I went from a volunteer, to a part-time employee, to working full-time there for about a year. It was my everything during that time. After all, I was doing work for the Lord, so I had to give it my all.
I would stay up late nights before having to report to my day job and then use every break during the day to do work for the church. I would do my best to make myself available to my ministry team when needed for ministry-related and personal matters. I absorbed other's dysfunctions and turned the other cheek so many times that I became accustomed to the emotional whiplash. I was dedicated.
...until one day I was told that my services were no longer needed. And not because I hadn't performed up to par (because I asked, of course). But I was terminated because they had decided "to go in a different direction."
It took about five minutes for this message to be relayed to me. It was simply stated without regret. The conversation was actually so mechanically executed that I did not realize my own devastation until about an hour later. And when I did, the feeling was that of extreme insignificance.
In that five minutes, no matter what words were actually spoken, the message that I heard through my heart's filter were you are insignificant. Emotionally I heard that not only was my best not good enough, but it was absolutely disposable.
Now in real life, I had truly misplaced my sense of self-worth. I learned months later that my significance should never be determined by anyone other than My Creator - who thinks we're all awesome by the way. #Godlovesyouandsodoi.
There is a poem that I love by Ntozake Shange that reads "somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff... & the one runnin wit it don’t know he got it... did you know somebody almost got away wit me?" It basically talks about a woman giving up too much of herself to someone who doesn't know her true value. This poem helped me realize that I was very willing to offer my best where it didn't belong.
The noble thing - that thing that made so much sense to dedicate my all to - was not my purposed thing. And if I had stayed in that position any longer it would have become my long-term excuse for why I was not fully exploring my own God-given gifts. I could blame my slow pace of pursuing purpose on someone else and being "selfless" would become my crutch.
Pursuing purpose is hard. It can be risky, feel selfish, and be downright painful at times. But it is undeniably necessary.