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when you don’t know what your thing is


    It’s a message I keep getting over and over and over:

    Be who you were created to be.

    Stop comparing yourself to others.

    Walk confidently in the gifts God has given you.

    Shine your light.


    At If:gathering a few weeks ago (it was so, so amazing. Truly one of the best weekends of friendship, great food, deep conversations and God whispering to each one of us), I left feeling affirmed to carry on and just do my thing.

    I came home ready and motivated and even doodled this saying as a reminder.

    And then I had a moment of crisis: What exactly IS my thing?

    Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve taken positive steps in overcoming comparison, have learned to accept yourself, ready to step into the great roles the Lord has for you … but you just have no idea what that looks like. You don’t know what your passion or gifting or talents – your thing – is.

    I get you, darling.

    I’m there too.

    I spent some time brainstorming, reading articles about ‘how to find your calling’, reflected on times I’ve felt most alive and I’m slowing figuring out who I am and what I love. Just a few glimmers of awareness feels really great and hopeful and reassuring.

    So if you see the photo above and feel excited to embrace your passions/talents/calling


    you see the photo and wonder if you even have any passions/talents/calling


    You have a purpose, great value, a unique ability and through intentionally reflecting, dreaming, talking with people who know and love you best, it will be made clear to you.

    I truly believe that.

    And maybe the best part of all, is that your thing looks different than mine and there is no need to feel intimidated or inadequate or puffed up when we look at each other. We get to live out our unique talents, seeing the beauty within each of us and sharing them with one another.

    And so, my friends, let’s continue on this journey of doing our thing.

    58 thoughts on “when you don’t know what your thing is”

    1. I can relate to this post so much. I have been a stay-at-home Mum for a little over 6 years, and currently thinking about returning to the workforce. Although I don’t know what I want to do. I am 42 and still worry that I haven’t found what I am good at. I am passionate about art and being creative (painting, drawing, design etc) but unsure whether its something I could do as my next career. Its been so long since I’ve studied or worked, so feel very unsure of myself. Thanks for sharing this post :)

    2. This came at a much needed time for me. Thanks for sharing this. I LOVE getting your emails, love your style, decor, ideas, personality, love for Jesus, etc etc. It’s actually the ONLY blog I follow. Thanks for sharing so much with all of us! Here’s to finding “my thing”! ~Jennifer- age 35, 6 months pregnant, married 1 yr. 3 months, working on my counseling internship, trying to be an independent consultant for NYR organic, have no clue what I’m doing in life right now other than growing a baby and ironing my sweet husband’s clothes for work- Hobson. =)

    3. Oh my goodness, it’s like you stole the thoughts out of my head. I have been struggling with this tremendously! Knowing I have dreams, passions, thoughts I want to share with the world, but feeling so distracted by everyone else’s good stuff that I find it hard to embrace my own. Thank you X a million for this encouragement! I couldn’t find this print in your shop. Is it not for sale? I would love this for my office!

    4. Thank you for the encouragement. Thanks for sharing your lives with us as you use your gifts in whatever way you feel you can. I appreciate you openness and your real-life practical ideas, and all the inspiration you share with your readers!

    5. I went through exactly the same thing a couple of years ago and my boyfriend at the time suggested that maybe my thing wwas that I didn’t HAVE a thing, but rather took an interest in EVERYTHING and knew a little bit about everything rather than being especially good at one particular thing. And that made a lot of sense to me, y’know? Maybe one’s superpower doesn’t need to be a talent or a skill, maybe one’s superpower can be resilience or kindness or curiosity or even unquestioning faith that whatever one is doing right now is exactly what God wants one to do – and that makes it your thing!

    6. I couldn’t have said it any better, as I too have struggled to find my “thing” for years. What I’ve learned recently is that sometimes, the “thing” finds you…in my case, when I stopped looking for it… While I don’t profess to know all yet, or have a clear direction, I feel like I’m on the journey at least. And I must add that it’s comforting to have friends along for the ride. :-) Thanks for sharing!

    7. I’m struggling with this so much. Being told to live and be who I’m created to be, but 100% floundering and don’t seem to know what my purpose is. I want to be happy and fully alive and be doing fulfilling work. That’s all I know. And for now I’m trying to trust that that is enough.

    8. Hi Emily! Long time reader, I just not one to usually comment :)

      I couldn’t help but ask if you’re going to make this print available to download? I just started working with 8 wonderful ladies as a Mentor to other women, and we’ve been talking a lot lately about how we all have different personalities and strengths and need to focus on those to gain success and help others. I would LOVE to get this print to frame for each of them. Thanks!

    9. Dear Emily,
      Thankyou so much for such a timely post, it brought me to tears as it sums up so much that I’ve been thinking of for the last few weeks. It’s been a tricky process and tonight, at small group, we talked so much about God’s plans for us – everyone wrestling with their own versions and their own questions. So much pinned on ‘but WHAT is my purpose?’ ‘what is the next stage?’ ‘what should I be doing?’.
      Just to remember to be myself and to not compare constantly to others or what their plan seems to be!
      Beckie x

    10. i certainly needed this today… though I haven’t quite pulled myself out of that doubting place today. thank you for your inspiration and your creativity.

      Its funny how one day you feel on top of the world, ready to conquer anything – up for lifes challenges and like a high speed elevator that drops 50 stories and your stomach churns you feel incapable of creativity or anything….

      this helped. step by step!


    11. i am in the middle of trying to decide what is next for me, after experiencing an assortment of losses the past 7 months i find myself with little direction. i did recently find a job that everyone who knows me says is perfect for me because of the talents they see in me. i do believe that the job is a reflection of my talents but the job is not what i want. i can’t decide if i should hang on and see what happens or go ahead and quit and look for something else and use my talents in a different way. i believe my talent is caregiving/servanthood but after my husbands diagnosis of early onset alzheimer’s and caring for him for 2 plus years (he passed away july 2014) i no longer get the same feeling from helping others in that care giver role. so what does one do? this job just came about so easily, it was a “God thing” but i just don’t feel it. i for one do not want God upset with me nor do i want to waste the talents he has given me.

    12. Dear Emily, Have you been listening to my prayers, thoughts, and ponderings? You so nailed what I have been struggling with these past few months. I am older than dirt and have just finished a long care taking stint…. thus I wonder what direction I should be moving, where would God have me focus. So… I appreciated this post. Micah 6:8 What does God require of me? Three things….. Now. What. Does. That. Look. Like. Glad to know there are others facing these same questions.

    13. Thank You! I love the positive attitude. I am a big believer in the Secret! I have multiple projects going on so I don’t get bored. I love Pinterest and get so inspired there. so many fun things to do and so little time.

    14. Thank you so much……I was upset at first, I am lost…… have awoken my passion for my craft, through this I am determined to be me….to find me… finally believe in me, to believe I’m good enough to be me in my life……….thank you, thank you, thank you.

    15. With each scroll down, as I read your post today, more tears poured from my eyes. As many are, I am struggling with “who am I”. You gave me a moment of pause, that reminded me I am not alone in this thought process. Thank you for your sweet inspiration to share this on your blog.

    16. Love. I feel like “my thing” is always changing and shifting a bit, and that’s ok.

      I’m a new reader to your blog, but I can already tell you that “your thing” is beautiful. Keep on doing it :)

    17. Relevant post.

      I was interested in reading the comments — do you have control over the font? I don’t know if it is my computer or the font, but I am having great difficulty reading the comments, even when I magnify them, due to them being in gray and the letters not being completely filled in. Any suggestions for me? Thanks.

    18. Dear Emily, I happen to be of an older generation and have struggled with this much of my life.

      I watched and listened around me to women who seemed to have the confidence to know who

      they were and where they were going. I now believe that there are many targets we can aim

      for and thereby offer our GIFTS! We can change our aims through our life experiences and

      growth. Mentoring whether through parenting, teaching or other means is one of the greatest gifts

      many of us women innately have and one of the most important……..

    19. Thank you for your encouraging words! You are great at putting so much feeling into what you write.

      On a more random note…is the print above your handwriting? I love it! I wish I could download it as a font to use. My handwriting always looks elementary. Probably because I spend more time typing than I do actually writing.

    20. i hear ya sista…I am currently reading The War of Art…very interesting – quick read but interesting take on purpose and how to get to that and execute – good read so far might prove interesting to you as well.

    21. I love this and it so resonates with me! After months (years, really) of planning and dreaming I finally took the plunge just last week and started my own blog. Its scary to put myself out there to show and write about what I love to do, but I’m just trying to do my thing and be who God created me to be. As soon as I hit “publish” on that very first post I felt all sorts of doubt and comparison creep in. Its so crazy how that happens. But I’m hanging in there, doing my thing. Thank you for the encouragement today!

    22. Emily, your post really resonates with me. I have been asking myself for quite sometime what is my thing? I believe it is in a creative outlet, but I don’t have a whole lot of background in creative fields so I have no idea where to start.

      I love how you have created your website, your designs, fonts, decor and would love to create something like it that could provide me the freedom and flexibility with my time.

      I am single with no kids and feel like my time is now, but really don’t know what my ‘thing’ is. Any words of advice?

      Thank you,

    23. A friend of mine in my community group at church (small group :)) went to the If:Gathering (all the way from Kalamazoo, MI!)! Did you get one of those awesome key necklaces? What a COOL way to help people transitioning from homelessness! She told us all about it! So amazing that you got to hear Christine Caine (We just did her study, “Undaunted”!) and Ann Voskamp (Love “1000 Gifts”!!) and I hear the whole thing was started by a girl who was a Kanakuk/Kanakomo camper growing up with a friend of mine from high school!! Would’ve loved to have hopped on a plane to TX! So glad it spoke to you, too!! Intrigued by the If: Tables, too… :) By the way, you have inspired me SO much through my 5 years in Kzoo! My first friends here made felt flowers with me at my house from your blog! Keep on doing what you’re doing!! You’re on the right track! :) :)

    24. Emily, this is just what I needed to hear. I listen to the same messages and don’t feel like I have some big unrealized dream in front of me. But then I compare and wonder if what I am doing is enough.

      Thank you for putting such beautiful words to my thoughts and feelings.


    25. Emily, Thank You for not being afraid to open a part of yourself to the world. I am 51 years old and am desperately searching for what I’m supposed to do with myself. I do know that God grants everyone talents and I have learned the hard way that if you don’t use them they could be taken from you. I agree with everyone that has left a comment and we know it’s true, we’re all the same at the end of the day. I must end my comment as tears are making it difficult to see the screen. I do ask to be remembered in prayer. Thank You again and May God Richly Bless You! !

    26. Emily, Thank you so much for the words of encouragement today. You have moved me and brought tears to my eyes with you heartfelt words. Just what I needed, thank you!

    27. Love this! Thank you for reinforcing that we as women are all truly equal! We may have different struggles and talents but at the end of the day we are all the same, wanting to find purpose in things we enjoy that make us feel at home & longing to find our “true” place in this world….. I know I am not alone when I say that I feel my light shines brightest when I’m following & creating with my heart ❤️ You Rock Emily!!!

    28. The timing of your post is impeccable. Just this morning I spent time journaling about this very topic. Not knowing what our “thing” is can make a person feel so lonely and lost.

      In my experience, “doing my thing” boils down to permission and worthiness. I’ve had a lingering hunch of what my thing is but had never given myself permission to let the tasks of life sit and the time to delve into these passions and giftings that are mine to explore. I had also never given myself permission to fail at them. :) Worthiness is important… knowing that I can pursue these things without critical thought… whether my own or the perceived thoughts of others!

      It’s encouraging to know others are sorting through this as well!

    29. Thank you for this post, I lost my “thing” after going through 4 years of college, and after that I have been working with what I’ve learned in college just to make money. I used to draw and paint and do crafts, but I don’t anymore. I started crocheting not too long ago and found my passion, but sometimes my family members tell me it’s a waste of time. I am encouraged to know that such a great designer like yourself sometimes struggle like me too!

    30. What a beautiful post to remind us that we’re all in this together. Even if it looks like we’ve got it all together, we still struggle and need those around us to help us through. Inspiration comes in fits and starts and the trick is to be joyful when you feel it. Thanks, Emily.

    31. Thanks for the thoughtful post. St Augustine said of God: “Our hearts will always be restless until they find their rest in thee.” So much of our lives is wasted trying to make ourselves significant and find something “special” about ourselves because when we feel like we’re lovable, we’re secure and at rest. But I think that no matter what we decide upon as our “thing”, the only way for us to stop comparing is not to find our worth in significance in what we can do, but in what God has already DONE for us. To choose the unconditional love of Christ over the conditional loves of the world. We are not alone because we all have that same struggle to replace conditional love with unconditional. We are special because God has a perfect plan for us, he gave different people different talents and loves us just the same. I hope that no matter what people find as their “thing”, they will be able to come back to the love of God!

    32. oh how I needed to hear this. just every word. I have been struggling with the same exact thing. God..what is it that you’ve gifted me with..what are the things I love to do and how can I leverage those things for your kingdom. Calligraphy, interior design, writing, teaching. how do I choose? haha The struggle is real! :)

    33. It’s nuts the way your post seem to hit home at exactly the right time. Been tryin’ to write my personal testimony for church and it is the hardest thing ever even though before I started to write I was so sure I had answers and it’s just fallen apart. I’ll just keep tryin’. :)

    34. I have the same problem of constantly comparing myself. Thinking that I am not enough – but in a strange way it is comforting to know that I am not the only one that feels that way.Very encouraging post!

    35. Dear Emily, I hear ya sista! Some days you know it and some days you question it! It’s comforting to know I am not the only one who goes through this. Thank you, great post.

    36. Thank you for this message! I am struggling to figure out what my thing is and it’s been a difficult journey over the last year or so coming to terms with that and finding a way forward. It’s always nice to have a reminder that we’re not alone and that one way or another, it’ll work out for the best.

      1. Geneva you took the words right out of my mouth. I’m exactly the same. I feel lost, unsure which way to move forward. Life is slipping by and i want to feel fullfilled, while the path i have been on these last 15 years feels like it really isn’t doing that purpose anymore.


        1. Oh how I wish we could all sit face to face and talk through these things! I hope you have friends and loved ones in your everyday life that can process these deep longings with you. We want so much to feel useful and chosen, and it’s hard when life circumstances are not set that way. Praying for each one of us tonight!

    37. Love this post, Emily! :) I recently came across this article on “Why you can’t find your purpose” – – and it really resonated with me. Maybe you’ll like it too! It is worth the read!! Here’s a tiny excerpt:

      “You’ve been trying to find your purpose. The truth is that you create your purpose.

      You tell Him, “I want to choose the path that You want me to choose. Won’t you tell me which one to follow?”

      He answers, “My child, I want you to choose the one that you want to follow, so long as you do so with the right intention.” …

      To say you want to find your purpose is like saying that an inanimate arrow wants to find a target.

      An arrow cannot aim itself; it can only hit the target at which it is purposefully, intentionally aimed by a being with the agency to choose.

      Your purpose is the target at which you choose to aim.”

    38. Our women’s church book club just started reading Just Do Something, by Kevin DeYoung. He gives an alternate title … “How to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random Bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc.” I love it! Let’s do something!

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