Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Find Your Purpose

The Stricklands.
Remember their name and faces.

I know that on Tuesdays we’re supposed to share a laugh and then on Fridays I slap your face with something serious.  But this week has seen some pretty serious action and I think we should take the time to reflect on it and decide what it means for us. I think we must articulate to ourselves what we feel our purpose is. My purpose in life, no matter what else I do, is to be a mother, wife, friend and jester. I don’t say that jokingly either.

My sons and husband are the most important people on Earth to me and without them I stop conceiving of a world with air in it. My friends and family keep me sane and in the middle spaces what makes me happiest is making people laugh. For me the joy is the same as when you give a perfect a gift and see the sheer delight on your friend’s face knowing that you helped create that moment.

We all have a purpose.

We get hung up when we think the purpose has to be classically or historically noble. Not everyone is destined to be President, to find a cure for a scourge, or to help win a battle waged on foreign shores. Some of us have a purpose that is fulfilled by being the smiling face at the cash register for a person desperate for contact and care. Some of us are completing our job here by caring for animals either through the adoption of abandoned souls or restoring their health. For others the purpose is fulfilled by cooking a meal that comforts and cares for its intended. The ways in which we can find purpose are infinite.

This week some brave men in our military took out the face of our enemy.  Navy Seals, who performed their purpose in anonymity and with great professionalism and perfection, snapped off the head of a monster.

The men and women who have been serving this country the past ten years have been marveled and thanked, esteemed and admired. They are doing hard, hard work at great personal sacrifice. I am Facebook acquaintances with one of these families and they were featured on a Dateline episode which aired Sunday, May 1; the very night bin Laden was being taken down.

Legrand was working in Afghanistan on a peace mission, and his family has given more than their fair share to this nation and its people. Carrie has weathered the storm with a military heart and has asked for nothing, has blamed no one, has been positive and strong the entire time. Legrand has never been bitter, or vengeful.  They have been the very face of bravery and stoicism.

The First Lady, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have taken up the mission to bring a face to warriors and their struggles. There are many people who don’t know someone personally who is fighting the battle in our stead because we remain an all volunteer military. Some of us may have to go out of our way to find the ways to help and be proactive. Here is your helping hand:  Joining ForcesFisher HouseWounded Warrior ProjectUS Dept of Veteran’s Affairs 

Our military and its families deserve nothing less than the best we can give. If Legrand can come home and battle through unimaginable wounds to be the remarkable man that he is and if Carrie can ride the waves of horrifying trauma, watch her beloved work so hard to come back from the brink and still be the marvelous woman she is….can’t we all find our purpose as well? 

Can’t we honor ourselves and each other by finding the calling
...whatever it is?

No matter how high or low you think the calling is, when you honor it and stay true to it, embody it consciously and with pride, it truly becomes most noble. You don’t have to be featured on a Dateline episode to be a hero. Small miracles take place every single minute of the day.

A doctor reaches out and touches a patient’s hand, a garden is planted and tended, a compost bin is created, a  friend sends a laugh to someone in dire need of levity, a kind word is spoken to someone teetering on the edge, or an animal is saved. When we even just smile at one another we are reaching out in the very smallest of ways and connecting on the largest scope. When we help one another, by holding a door, or letting a car in when they probably should have yielded 500 feet back…we honor each other in the acknowledgement that we don’t know the stories in the background.

When I was visiting my mother in Hospice as she died, I was an AWFUL driver. I forgot turn signals, I drove too slowly…today when I am driving and someone is behaving similarly I must remember that I don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been.  The woman who appears so idiotic may have just left her child at a Children’s Hospital in critical condition. The man who is merging when he should be yielding may be on his way to pick up his own warrior home from battle. Truly, the person who is making you crazy may be on cloud nine after the birth of their child, and has forgotten that a world exists outside their bliss bubble. HOW AWFUL…for you….

But the reasons may also be extraordinarily mundane! My mom and I joked frequently about this particular story:  we were on our way to a friend’s party and we were in charge of bringing baked beans. The pan of beans was still quite warm (read: boiling lava hot) and I was holding them on my lap. I continually had to beg my mom to slow down so they wouldn’t slosh onto my lap out of the pan. We were making people mental as they drove behind us on the side streets. And I kept shouting out the window, “I’ve got hot beans!!” 

Thereafter it became our joke that a person driving like a complete moron may have hot beans in their lap.  How can you know?

You may be in line with Carrie, who is on day two of no sleep as she waits to hear news of her Legrand. How can you know? You may be driving behind her as she drops her sons off at a family member’s house and heads to the airport for a flight to Landstuhl, Germany…to sit vigil.  How can you know?  Maybe you’re just in the proximity of someone with hot beans.
We HAVE to stop thinking we know every back story of every person out there, and we HAVE to stop thinking that everyone is a complete idiot sent here to get in our way. What we need more than ever is to get out of our own inner monologue and remember that sometimes, in moments of panic, pain, grief, uncertainty, fear, struggle...or even happiness...what we need is a soft voice, a caring act or smile…we need a hand from a stranger or friend.

What is your purpose on this Earth and in this life?
And how can you best fulfill it?

In every moment of your day and night you are encountering people who need you to fulfill your purpose to the best of your ability with conviction and love.

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