Purpose is a funny word, as it relates to all of us. We have purpose based on our obligations, we have sense of purpose when we can see we are meant for something, or the general vagueness of purpose in knowing something is out there and yet we’ve failed to see or realize its pending inevitability. This final paradigm of purpose seems to be what most of my life exists under. When I see something, which gives me a sense of purpose, everything is no longer ambiguous and I can move towards my goal with a surety which all but indicates I am right. This is the same feeling I get when my obligatory purposes are within grasp every moment of the day, either in thought, prayer, or as real as my children looking at me to make the “right” decision in everything. I will admit, I don’t always make the right decision, but it’s my purpose which helps to define where I should be.
Purpose is the author of men and women who choose to fight for freedom, or stand in defiance to tyranny. It has been the impetus of the most beautiful works of art from the Sistine Chapel, to the hyperrealism in art we see in today’s modern medium. Purpose has been responsible for technology in every aspect of our lives including medicine, entertainment, and food. We know more now, and are more comfortable in life than any generation the world has ever seen. Though, the rhetorical questions arise from this observation; since we look through the purpose of another, do we realistically expect the same results and do we realize the struggle within which their purpose allowed us this moment?
My truth is, yes, I see other’s purpose and in my own relative way adopt their struggle, until I realize I’m going in the wrong direction with their purpose for my own sense of meaning. Perhaps they spent weeks or months, even years, pursuing their general direction in life, and in my own impatience I assume their struggle and except their pains to artificially move my life forward as they did theirs. This is assuming their life moved forward with their purpose. I know I’ve explored many people who found no truth in their purposeful life and subsequently considered themselves failures. However, the question of God always comes into focus with this, at least for me. My question, “what is my over-arching purpose in this life?”, took many years to answer, but it was a simple one. God! God, is my purpose. Nothing more, nothing less, everything as it relates to God, should be my focus. This means, the best father I can be, as God is my father and has loved me from before I was born. The best husband I can be as it is a blessing from God when he created the covenant between my wife, myself and him. The “best version of myself”, a phrase constantly repeated by Matthew Kelly of Dynamic Catholic.
Our purpose as men, as husbands, and as the faithful is so important to every aspect of our community. Repeatedly we see figures in the Bible pursue a sense of purpose without truly knowing where they would go next, but they knew with the guiding light of God, their faith would see them through. Job finds his way through the expectation of purpose and acknowledgement of his purpose as something difficult to overcome, yet not really knowing why. Paul, is repeatedly bruised and battered, and yet he perseveres towards the light. Both men give us true examples of hardship, but for a greater purpose (God), and the subsequent manifestations of purpose, give us men our purpose as well. Within charity, we see people who are, to no fault of their own, dealing with hardships. We as charitable people, who will the good of the other because they are other, lift those people up, and even when we can barely afford to lift another up due to our own situations (not exclusively monetarily speaking).
I’m not suggesting you sell all your earthly goods and live as a pauper. No, rather I’m suggesting a little more prayer, a little more discernment, perhaps a little more time knowing who you really are. You never know what someone is going through in their own life, and although they seem put together, they may be going through worse times than you and what they truly desire is someone who intently cares what they have to say and willing to understand.
C.S. Lewis spoke about absolutism and relativism and how it pertained to our society, Lindsley, concluded the relative point with which we stand determines our perceptions of everything. It’s not good enough to conclude that a bad act is determinate of a bad person. Instead, a poor decision could be the effect of no sense or lack of a proper sense of purpose in life, and all anyone needs at this point is patience and your willingness to point them in the right direction. I have seen it myself, people want direction where they won’t be met with perceived failure. This direction is God, earthly failure and perceived failure are two wholly different things. I would add, without a true objectivity to properly perceive these events, we can never hope to make the good morally needed decisions for our lives.
When I was in my early twenties, I assumed my purpose in life was one of working hard, doing something which would make my career flourish, and that people must know who I am. So, I pursued everything I could (within reason), where I could perform. I was willing to make unethical decisions to further who I knew I wanted to be, and was shocked when people didn’t see things the way I did. I was certain my way was the best way, and anyone with a differing of opinion should be cast aside. This included everyone, no one was immune to my boorish behavior. Somewhere along the way, when I finally looked up figuratively, I saw no one was around, except those who truly loved me for me. They didn’t like my behavior, but they knew there was something more to me than just poor behavior and shallow purposes. My wife most of all, she wasn’t having any of my behavior, but deep down never gave up on me. So, I tore down the monument to myself, and ripped out the alter of self-aggrandizement, and found a spark of humility in my faith. This is my purpose, everyone I encounter, is my purpose.
In the last few months, I’ve really been challenged to enter a new phase of my life, regarding my spirituality. The actions of some prayers have begun to feel somewhat stale, because of my lack of enthusiasm, I asked myself the question and I have sense asked others, “what do you do when you don’t feel the fire in you to continue your faith journey?”. Most tell me, it’s a matter of will, or maybe I should take a break, sometimes there is no advice at all. For a man who is always looking, these did not satisfy my curiosity, and left me with more answers than when I started. As it just so happens, I was invited to a book group on the above mentioned C.S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters. This book group, in its impromptu ability, has been a Godsend. I could connect with other men, and realize one personal and yet homogenous thing about each and everyone one of us. We all have a true struggle in life, and we all need a sense of purpose to help us move toward anything which gives us this fire we desire to have. For me, God is my sense of purpose, but I needed the fellowship of men I trust to help me with my journey. I would likewise see my part, however small in their lives, as functioning within the same context. We support one another when questions or tragedies abound, and we laugh when the appropriate time hits as well. I am truly blessed to know these men, and I will always count them as brothers.
Purpose as a final remark has brought me tremendous joy in my life. I no longer ask why, as much as state the fact, we don’t know, but it isn’t our place to know, just to live. Are you living a life which supports your purpose, are you answering those daily questions with solid faith backed actions? If not, why? Why are you holding back? What is holding you back? I know fear, held me back for many years, fear of the unknown, and fear of the ridicule I would inevitably face as a matter of course in something everyone has a concerted opinion about, yet can’t prove one way or another. This fear controlled my life, don’t let it control yours, embrace your “today”, pray for your “tomorrow”, and repent for your “yesterday”. If we all do these things, then we have a really good shot at purposeful life, a joyful life.
I hope today’s words are something which help you to ask those questions of your life, which should start with “am I doing enough for myself, and those whom I love?”. May God bless you and your families!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God, is good!!!