“[He] exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.” (Acts 11:23)
Much depends upon the height of the aspirations to which the mind and heart go in girlhood. The dreams of doing or being that which is noble and great, of accomplishing much, are a spur to every girl. And would you, my dreamers, have your dreams come true? There are three things which in the life of any girl will make her a success. The first two we have already discussed, pure ideals, and noble ambitions, and the third is a strong purpose.
It is almost impossible to estimate the power of purpose in life. Things thought out of reason have been accomplished through purpose. Kingdoms have been torn down and built again, heathen customs have been uprooted and the light of Christianity put in their places, men born under the bondage of hard and unfavorable circumstances have risen above their environments and become powers in the world, the mysteries of the earth and sky have been sought out and their power put to work for mankind; yes, every great and noble deed that has ever been done has had for its captain and soldiers men and women of strong purpose.
A purpose in life gives something to live for, something to work for, and something to hope for. If the purpose be for good cause, then the evil that would hinder can be overcome and the good prevail. But without this strong purpose the individual becomes but a creature of circumstance, a chip tossed by the waves of life.
The power of purpose is the power of love. No man can cleave to any purpose with all his heart unless he loves the cause for which he strives. He must so love that cause that to give it up would be like giving up his very life. I once read of a woman upon a lonely ranch in a foreign land. Her husband had to go away for a week or more, leaving her alone for that time with her little children. He had not been gone long before she was bitten by a poisonous serpent, and she knew that in a few hours, not more than eight, she must die. She remembered her children, and that if they were to be kept safe she must in the time left her draw enough water and bake enough bread to supply them until their father returned, or he might find his family all dead. So she worked and prayed that day, sick, fainting, almost unconscious; but love set her purpose strong, and she struggled on. Night came, and her hours were nearly up. She put her babes in bed, and wandered out of sight of the cabin to die, but with a determination to live as long as possible for her children’s sake. And morning found her still alive, still walking, and her system beginning to clear from the poison. She lived to tell the story, a monument to the power of a loving purpose.
Those who have made a success in anything have done so because they set about the task with purpose. All the great machines that lighten the burden of labor in the fields and shops and factories are the result of the steady purpose of their inventors. No man or woman has become of note in any work or field of research but has worked on with steady purpose when circumstances were discouraging. They loved sincerely the cause for which they labored, and they gave it their attention in spite of all that came to hinder them.
And you, my little friend, can make your life successful if you set to it with the power of purpose. When you know what your chosen field is, where your lifework will be, and what you want your life to accomplish, set to with all your might and fight till the victory comes. But make your purpose worthy. It is a shame to waste the power of energy of purpose upon those things that are selfish and of little worth. Undertake great things, things that make one’s life bigger and broader, and that are a blessing to others. One writer has said that without a strong and noble purpose a person is like a lizard, content to stay in the mud, and strong purpose helps him to rise like the eagle out of the shadows of the valleys up to the sunlight on the mountaintops, and to claim them as his own. Every life that has been a failure has been so because of the lack of purpose behind it. Success is not always counted by dollars, nor by worldly honors, but in the achievement of noble and unselfish purposes.
It is purpose in life that gives an individual decision and determination. Every one of us must meet hard things. Success does not come down upon us as rain out of heaven. If we are to have success we must draw it ourselves, out of the wells of life. If we are only half in earnest and our purpose is only a desire, then when the sun comes down upon us burning and smothering us, and we feel tired from our efforts, we will give up. But if our desire becomes a steady purpose to be successful in the thing we have undertaken, then we will not mind the sun and the heat and our weariness, but will work on with our purpose before us. We will keep a strong determination to succeed in what we have undertaken.
Success depends upon your purpose in life. I shall ask you again: What are you living for? What is your purpose in life? When I last talked with my friend Betty on this subject she folded her hands and laughed as she said, “I just live and have a good time. I really have no thoughts about these things.” And there are myriads of girls just like her. But sometime she will awaken to her responsibility, for her mother is yet the one whose purpose and decision are the groundwork of success in Betty’s life. Sometime, all you girls with patient, firm, determined mothers, will waken to see that they were not just trying to hamper your good times by their much overseeing of your affairs, but that they were holding to a wise and loving purpose to see you safely into womanhood. I think that mothers see the hardest times when the girls set with purpose of heart to have their own way in something foolish and wrong. When two strong purposes come together the battle waxes hot. Do you wonder what sometimes makes mothers sigh? You have the reason right here.
“I will if I can,” is a good-sounding motto and shows a kind spirit; but, “I can if I will, and I will,” is the old fellow who gets things done. You have heard the little poem about the man who undertook to do a thing that could not be done and did it. You can almost see “the bit of a grin as he waded right in,” and the look of relief and joy when he did it. Have a purpose and stay with it. Keep on going.
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