It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

December 29, 2022

I got this quote in an email this morning –

The struggle, like life itself, should be joyful. (Miriam Miranda)

From the same email – Miriam Miranda has dedicated her life to protecting the culture and land of the Garífuna people in Honduras. Throughout her 30 years of on-the-ground activism, she has faced threats, attacks, and imprisonment; still, she fearlessly advocates for preservation. To her, the harshest opponents — big business, real estate, and tourism development, to name but a few — are no match for the power of a woman fighting for a bright, sustainable future, and a better social safety net for the younger generation. Her continued efforts are nothing if not optimistic — and even, as her words here suggest, a joyful struggle.

The word “struggle” has negative connotations which makes it hard for me at least to associate with the word joy. If one is poor and homeless life itself becomes a struggle. We see on the nightly news the immigrants at our southern border struggling just to survive, most after having struggled for months just to get here. Most of us, however, are not struggling just to survive. Our struggle (our purpose, if you will) is most often based on some personal decisions that we make to take actions to better ourselves or the lives of others (quite often our families).

Quite often on the nightly news we see stories of people, some quite young, who have embarked on a mission to help others. They may have made it their purpose to collect coats for the cold or food for the hungry or toys for needy children at Christmas. Some may be providing shelter for the homeless in their area or perhaps a safe haven for victims of domestic abuse. Those stories on the news might often cause you to stop and think about what you might do or maybe think about what you are not doing. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thoughts of how big of a task doing something like what was covered in the story would be to take on. We “struggle” to think of a purpose or mission that we could tackle.

The truth is that we don’t need to embark on some “holy grail” quest or mission. If you have the time and/or resources to take on something like forming and operating a charitable non-profit, more power to you and good luck; however, few have that luxury. Instead, look about you for already established non-profits in your community and volunteer at one or more of them. There are food pantries and homeless shelters and many other very worthwhile organizations in almost every community – most hiding in plain sight. If you go to a church, find out the things that your church is doing to help in the community and join in the efforts. You will find a sense of mission, purpose, and joy from joining any of those efforts.

 If putting yourself out there in a volunteer community service role is not for you, maybe just taking on the task of being a better person will provide you with the challenge (purpose) that you need to find joy in life. Making a mindful decision to be a better person gives you something to shoot for each morning and something to evaluate and be joyfully proud of each night. Even if you find little to be happy about at the end of any day, that evaluation provides you with even more incentive to do better tomorrow.  Forgive yourself for today’s failures and resolve to do better tomorrow. If today’s failures were caused by the actions of someone else, forgive them and learn from the experience. You will get another chance to do better tomorrow, and you will be wiser then.

Seeing life or the issues that you face as a struggle is a negative way to look at things. If instead you accept the challenge of overcoming the setbacks or obstacles that may come your way as part of your mission and purpose in life, then you will be able to pause and celebrate (be joyful) when you have met those challenges. You will have fulfilled your purpose.

It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…

I’ve got to be me. You be you.

July 1, 2021

I get an email each day with quotes from various groups of people and on a variety of topics. I have no idea how I got on that email list, but it does occasionally provide some nice fodder for me to blog about. A recent email from that source contained a bunch of quotes from female entertainers that the email called Divas. A couple of them caught my eye because the message of their quotes is one that I have posted here about in the past – being yourself.

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton

“I didn’t need a role model. I didn’t need to try to be like someone else. I just needed to be me.” – Queen Latifah

There were a number of other Diva quotes that reinforced that theme.

One doesn’t have to be a Diva for this to be great advice. All too often we (especially the young) try to be like someone else, thinking that this is the secret to happiness or success. It is actually OK to try to emulate the best qualities of someone that you admire, but too often that is not the focus. Instead young people may just try to replicate the look or mannerisms  of their heroes or role models. They somehow believe that if they have a certain look or act in a certain way they will be more attractive or successful in life. Of course, that never works and instead of increasing their appeal to others it may actually be off-putting. Why? Because they aren’t being themselves. People want to get to know who you are, not who you are pretending to be.

It is much easier to say that from the vantage point of older age than it is when one is young. Growing up can be a confusing time and process. There are few people to turn to for advice or guidance. Parents come to mind, but many times parents are distracted by work or other commitments and don’t pay enough attention to the needs of their own children.  Think of how many times we hear in news story coverage of a tragedy involving a child we hear the parent say, “If only I had paid more attention and recognized the signs of my son/daughter’s depression.”

But, those are worst-caser scenarios. Most kids don’t get that down on themselves that they become depressed, but they do go through the process of “finding themselves” and becoming OK with who they are. That process can be confusing and frustrating for some and for a few it extends well into what is called adulthood. I’ve posted here a few times about loving yourself before you can love others. I think that happens when you come to grips with who you are and decide that it is OK to be you.

It is the step beyond just accepting yourself that Parton was alluding to – the “do it on purpose” step. I think that could be restated as “do it with a purpose.” The step beyond saying “this is who I am” is answering the question, “Now, what am I going to do with who I am?” One does not have to have a huge, lofty set of goals or purposes in life, but it is important to always be working to be better tomorrow than you are today – to be a better person, spouse, child, parent, worker, contributor in life than you are today. Why? Because becoming better each day increases your worth – your worth to yourself and to society. And we all strive to feel more worthy. You don’t increase your worth by trying to be someone else. You just waste your time.

The final Diva quote that I’ll use today is from Beyoncé –

“Don’t try to lessen yourself for the world; let the world catch up to you.”

Think about that for a while. I could label that quote, “Girl, get a little attitude.”

So, I’ll be me and you be you. Let’s both be the best “me” that we can be. Sounds like something Dr. Seuss might have written, doesn’t it?

That’s a worthy pursuit.


What difference will you be…

April 26, 2021

I saw a little slogan line in an on-line ad recently that struck a chord – “Be the difference…”

As I thought about it I wondered how one can be the difference and I was surprised that a flood of possible examples came to mind.

Just imagine that by wearing your mask in public, maintaining social distance, getting your vaccine shot and doing the other things that are recommended by the health experts, you were the reason that someone else didn’t get the COVID virus and die. You were the difference in their life.

There are so many other examples that come to mind. Maybe you are the one who stops to render assistance to someone in need. You are the difference in their life.

Maybe you are the one who provides a shoulder to cry on and words of comfort and support to someone who is grieving or perhaps has just been harmed. You are the difference in their life.

Perhaps without even realizing it, the way that you are living your life has become the role model for someone else and is helping them do the right things in their life. You are the difference in their life.

Maybe you have taken up a good cause and volunteered at a local organization, perhaps packaging and delivering food to shut-ins. For them you may be the only person that they get to talk to all day. You are the difference in their life.

I thought how much better it is if you are aware of the difference that you make and that doing so gives you a rewarding sense of fulfilling your purpose in life.

We are told in the Bible – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24

So, as you start a new day and a new week, perhaps you can add to your prayers a request that God make known to your what you purpose is in life and then give you the strength and perseverance to carry out that purpose and be the difference in someone’s life.

Remember what Jesus said to his disciples about helping others – “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Add this single thought to your prayers –“Lord let me be the difference today”.  You might just be surprised what a big difference you can make.

Be the difference…

Find meaning by living your life…

February 24, 2021

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” – Albert Camus

Do you know someone who is never happy with what they have and always searching for ways to get more? Maybe you know someone who claims to be searching to “find myself”, to find some purpose and meaning to their life. It is not unusual for the young to go through phases like that, to have many questions for which there are no apparent answers. This is usually a period of a lapse in faith that occurs between being a child and accepting and understanding your faith as an adult.

As a child you were told about Jesus and the love of God and you just embraced it, not questioning it, just accepting that love as you accepted the love of your parents. So called “child-like innocence” protected you from the doubts that would later creep into your mind.

But, you began to question things by your teen years and well into young adulthood. That is part of the natural rebellion against being told things or being told to do things. That is your “I’ll make up my own mind on that” phase. It normally occurs during a time when you have the ability to reason, but not enough experience in how to use that ability to reach the right conclusions. It’s not so much that you reject God as it is that you just wander away from Him in confusion and in your search for the meaning of life and especially meaning for your life. You are too busy trying to “find yourself”.

Some wander about in that state of confusion and dissatisfaction for their entire lives, never really happy and always confused as to why. Others find their way back to God and allow their faith to provide the answers that they were seeking. They do not spend their time seeking happiness; but, rather, allow happiness to occur in their lives. They find relief from the anxieties of trying to understand the meaning of life and find joy in giving purpose and meaning to their lives.

People of faith start each day with a prayer to God to help them be the best that they can be that day and end the day with a prayer to God to help them be even better tomorrow. They do not live each day seeking the meaning of life, they live each day to give life meaning. They embrace another saying by Albert Camus – “Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.”

So, seek not the meaning of life; rather seek to reconnect with that faith that you had as a child. Accept God back into your life and allow Him to show you how you can add meaning to your life. The true meaning of life is what you put into it; how you live it and the things that you do to make life better for all. God’s got work for you to do. It’s time to stop asking what it all means and start asking, “What does God want me to do today?” You won’t find he answer in any philosophy book, but the Bible has some pretty good suggestions for you.

Have a great and meaningful day!

It’s all about the pursuit of your purpose…

March 19, 2015

I forget why I was there, but I saw this quote on web page of quotes recently –

“Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of Happiness” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

I thought about it and decided that I might twist it around a bit and say – “Life finds fulfillment and happiness in the pursuit of purpose.”

I’ve posted here before about having a purpose in one ‘s life and actually most people may have more than one purpose going on and they don’t all have to be helping handsserious, “change the world” types of purpose. Parents often express purpose in the raising of their children and making sure that they make the best of themselves that they can. As the children grow up and leave, many shift their life’s purpose to helping others. I suppose that there is purpose in pursing happiness; although I’m not so sure about feeling a sense of fulfillment out of that pursuit. I suspect that happiness and a sense of fulfillment might better be described as being by-products of the successful pursuit of a purpose in life.

The dictionary definition of purpose is – the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. In life, you could substitute someone into the definition to come up with “the reason for which someone exists.”

For many just the continuing struggle to exist at all supplants purpose. Survival isn’t really purpose, but it’s all that many people have time for in life. For those who are blessed with a life in which the basics needed to survive are taken care of dispairthe next level of consciousness often hungers for some purpose to it all. For some that comes easily; those driven by a passion to serve and help others. For some it is a lifelong quest in search of something about which to become passionate. Many pass through phases where they mistake the pursuit of excellence in a sport or a hobby for purpose. Some allow the pursuit of wealth or power to masquerade as purpose in their lives. Many confuse their love and feelings of responsibility for a life-mate or for their children as their purpose. Certainly there is purpose in protecting and providing for both and a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction at a job well done for them. At the end of the day, all of these people find that something is still missing in their lives – real purpose.

So, before I go too far down that deep philosophical path, suffice to say that finding your purpose often means finding a way to serve others, to put others needs before your needs and to set aside prejudices and fears about those who may be differentcaring or in need. I have met a number of people who have not only found their purpose, but who have embraced it with a passion that is evident in everything that they do. Sometimes these are people who volunteer at organizations like Meals on Wheels or Community Sharing. Sometimes these are people who have dedicated their lives to working with and saving those who have troubled lives. Sometimes they are just relentless fund-raisers for worthy causes and sometimes they just dish out soup at shelters.

You can kind of tell when you meet one of these people because they are usually handshakealways happy, even when they are dead tired from the toils involved in pursuing their purpose. They’re happy  because they are also people who are feeling fulfilled at the end of each day and who are excited about getting up the next day and doing more. How many of us can say that about our daily lives?

Maybe most of us just haven’t found our purpose yet. I get glimpses of purpose during periods of volunteer work; but I can’t honestly say that I have found my purpose yet. I’m pretty sure that I won’t find a single, big, show-stopping purpose for my life; but, rather, that a bunch of things that I can have passion for and find fulfilment in doing may be what I sense that I’m missing. Perhaps writing about it and about things like the human trafficking problem that I recent wrote about is also a part of my purpose. I just feel like there is more; so, I continue to search.

Have you found your purpose(s)? I you have, good for you; and if you haven’t, keep searching.

Be blessed, not stressed…

March 10, 2015

“Too blessed to be stressed!”  (Seen on a coffee mug), from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The concept of being “blessed” doesn’t necessarily have to take on religious meaning, but most people associate it with that thought. At its most benign level  it means acknowledging what you have, starting with life itself and adding on from there. One often sees on the nightly news people who have just lost everything that they possessed claiming to be blessed to be alive. They have been stripped of all of the trappings of life, but have come to realize that all of those things matter less than life itself and the lives of the loved one that you may have around you.

Much of the stress in our daily lives does seem to be rooted in spending time worrying afraidabout things that have yet to happen or things that we don’t have, but wish that we did. Almost all of the worry about things that have yet to happen is born in our vivid imaginations, our ability to conjure up the worst case scenarios and play them out in our minds. Things seldom turn out to be as dramatic or dangerous as we imagine them to be; nor, on the flip-side, does the achievement of material success ever turn out to be as sweet as we dreamed it would be. We stress about things because we are not content o live in the moment and be happy with the blessings that we already have.

So; what to do, what to do, to avoid the stress. One might start by sitting quietly and appreciating all of the blessings that we already have, starting with the fact that you made it to another day. Then, add the people around you whom love you and who yousmiling man love and your blessings begin to mount. If you are not homeless, add that in; if you are then perhaps you have found shelter for the night and that is a blessing.  If you had food to eat during the day, even if it was not as much as you had hoped, it was a blessing. If you are not naked, then your clothes are a blessing. One could go on and on, totaling up the little things in life that one has that may be thought of as blessings. You’ll probably be surprised at the length of the list of your blessings and the fact that spending time on being thankful for them leaves you little time to stress over what you don’t have.

Of course, it would be naïve to ignore the hunger and poverty, the illnesses and evil and the injustices in the world around us; so maybe you could spend some time thinking about what you could help to do about some of those issues. Actually doing something might equip you with a purpose and a mission for your life and a life with purpose seldom has time for stress. One might say “I’m busy trying to do good things; I have no time to devote to thoughts about bad things.” Stress is a phenomenon that soup kitchenbreeds best during idle times and those with a mission in life have little of that time to devote to it. You see that type of story every so often in the news too; about the lady who is poor but who devotes her life to running a soup kitchen for people who are even poorer and who seems to be very happy – she doesn’t have time for stress in her life, she’s too busy being helpful and happy. Perhaps this quote from Leo Aikman sums it up best –

“Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night.”

So, have a blessed and happy day. You made it to today and that is a great start. Now go find your mission in life and you’ll be too busy to worry.

The five “P’s” of success in life…

September 22, 2014

There are, is seems to me, five things that are important to achieving success in life. Two of them I saw recently as I visited one of the blogs of a follower of my blog –

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.” – as seen on the KSFINBLOG

I would add to those two essential ingredients Persistence, Perseverance and Patience, which are what ultimately lead to success.

woman carrying torchPurpose is what turns life from just wandering through into a journey. Purpose defines the goal or destination that you want to achieve. Passion supplies the drive to get to that destination or goal. If you have that passion lighting the way, then Persistence means getting up every day and taking a few more steps towards the goal. Perseverance means being able to bounce back from set-backs or disappointments and refocusing upon the goal; and Patience means understand that most journeys take a while and are not accomplished all in a day.

We have become a society used to instant gratification; to getting things right now; and, quite honestly, many times used to not having to work too hard to achieve our goals. Purpose-driven lives tend to take a longer view; maybe because they focus upon bigger goals or maybe because they start further away from the final destination. Purpose-gymnastdriven athletes tend to have train for years before they even get to the level where they have a shot at achieving their goal. Some, like Olympians have four years of training between attempts. It takes a lot of passion, persistence, perseverance, and patience to train for four years in order to get one shot at the gold. Imagine setting your sights on a goal that is four years out. Maybe you have evenlonger term goals.

So, as you set your goals and define the journey that your passion is leading you upon, make sure that you are ready for the long run. Make sure that you have the persistence, perseverance and patience for the journey. Otherwise you will just experience many short trips into failure and frustration. We’ve all met someone like that who keep making half-hearted efforts into “the next big thing” in their life, whether it be a relationship or a new job or some new hobby or sport that they dabble in for a while. They mistake an interest for purpose and an attraction for passion; but they really have none of the other things that they need to make things work. Many of us do take false starts at things that we reaching goalinitially believe to be worthwhile goals, only to discover that we really don’t have the passion to persist and overcome obstacles or maybe the patience to stay the course.

What purposes (goals) do you have in your life? What passions? Are you persistent in pursuing them with patience and perseverance? Where are you on those journeys? Have you taken time to feel rewarded by the progress that you’ve made? Have you made your goals know to others? If not, why not? If so, are they cheering you on? Think about these things in the week ahead. Just thinking about what the important goals are in your life will help reinforce your passin for achieving them. Have a great and purposeful week.

To find purpose in your life, don’t look into the mirror…

December 20, 2013

QuestionsWell known pastor and author of ” Purpose Driven Life”,  Rick Warren has made a career out of helping people find purpose in their lives. It is interesting to research what various great and famous people throughout history have settled upon as the most important purpose in life and to find how consistent is the conclusions that they have reached – that to make a positive difference in someone else’s life gives purpose to our own lives.

Here are some examples from across history:

“Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)”  ― Cicero

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
― John Bunyan

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  ― Booker T. Washington

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” ― Leo Buscaglia

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”  ― Robert F. Kennedy

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift”  ― Pablo

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.”
― Jana Stanfield

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” ― Nelson Mandela

“When YOU stop believing one person in the world cannot make a difference; differences in the world will be made.”  ― Kellie Elmore

“To me, life is about helping people.”  – Ernie Banks

So you can see the themes that run through these quotes by people from ancient history up to modern times – making a difference in the lives of others is our purpose AND even a single act, by a single person is important.

There is a compelling call to action by most of the people quoted not to sit on the sidelines and not to be intimidated by the size of the need that you can see all around you. Get up, get out, and get busy making a positive difference in someone’s life today. You will immediately feel better because now you will be living your life with a purpose and you can end each day with a sense of accomplishment from having helped someone else. That’s why we are born. That’s what we are to do. That’s our purpose.