What is your life’s purpose?
To spread light and truth in a beautiful way that changes lives.
How are you living your purpose?
I am a novelist, an international aid worker and a mother to two young children, so I feel that I am fulfilling my purpose in a number of ways.
Being a mother and an NGO (non-profit organization) worker involves so many hands-on, practical, person-to-person opportunities to help others in a relational way. As a novelist, I seek to tell stories about hope, courage, and connection. I write about strong women facing big challenges, about social justice issues relevant to women, and about things I love and think are fun and exciting, like food and international travel and second chances at love.
How did you find your purpose?
I was always a storyteller from my earliest years, and I also always wanted to help people in practical ways. I was tenderhearted as a child, the one who cared for an injured animal or befriended the lonely child on the playground. After a semester abroad in Oxford during university, I realized I wanted to live in Europe and lead an international life. I also wanted to help people, so I joined a faith-based NGO and lived in Europe for seven years working with the organization. Now, I use my real-life experiences to greatly inform and enrich my stories. When I began my career as a professional novelist four years ago, I found that writing novels gave me another wonderful way to really speak truth and spread light. I absolutely adore what I do, all the parts of it, and feel very fulfilled. I know I am doing what I was meant to do in my life and that’s a wonderful feeling.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Don’t be held back by the “should’s” of life, believing that what you have to offer or what you love isn’t special or worthwhile. Each of us can help change the world for the better by doing what we love in a way that helps others. I explore this theme in my newest novel, The Enlightenment of Bees. The main character Mia, an idealistic baker, has her entire life planned out and when it all crumbles, she goes on an around-the-world humanitarian trip to find her new sweet spot in life.
I define a sweet spot as the place where your greatest passions meet the world’s great pain. You can find that sweet spot often by looking at what you truly love, then creatively seeking to see how that passion can help make the world a better place, whether that’s in your own community or elsewhere in the world. There are a million ways to make a difference in the world. Discern the ways that genuinely interest and excite you and go do them. Living in your sweet spot is the most fulfilling, wonderful thing.
What resources do you recommend?
I just wrote a short article on finding your sweet spot in life. Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story also beautifully explores this. Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is great for writers but also has lots of nuggets of life wisdom. Bob Goff’s book Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World beautifully outlines how to live in that sweet spot and celebrate the beauty of life.
Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She is the author of Ascension of Larks, Becoming the Talbot Sisters, and The Enlightenment of Bees. Currently Rachel lives with her family in Seattle, Washington, where she enjoys creating stories about hope, courage, and connection with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.