Funeral Provokes Me to Reflect on My Purpose
My brother buried his father-in-law today. My wife and I witnessed his wife of 50 years saying her last goodbyes. While hugging her youngest granddaughter with tears rolling down her face, she left him behind. You could see how much more she was leaving behind – things she painfully hoped she could take with her.
Cecilin, as most called him, never said much. He had lost an eye in an accident years ago which left him disabled. He was a low-profile, solitary man and, as a result, I never got to know him well. But what I saw today was a man whose wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren loved dearly.
During his last 30 days, his wife never left the hospital. She slept at his side in the poor accommodations they could make for her. She nursed his illness as well as she could hoping to squeeze a little more time for them to share together. The day after he died, she asked her daughter, “Who will I have to take care of?” Those two cleaved to each other permanently.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life’s purpose. In an earlier article, I discussed Richard Leider’s idea of finding a purpose in your life and aligning your career to serve that purpose instead of serving as end to itself.
Many of us pursue a self-destructive purpose or one we eventually find to be unfulfilling. Other of us avoid the “purpose” question altogether. We stay busy with our busyness serving as purpose enough – I guess. Others of us drift – and just drift – as if hoping the “purpose” question will figures itself out. In any case, with a lack of purpose you have no compass or guiding direction. It’s as if you are climbing a ladder leaned up against the wrong wall or bouncing around in a pinball machine. I don’t know which one is worse.
Whether we like it or not, we all leave a legacy. Those left behind to mourn us will remember something. Will that memory be a disappointment to ourselves? Will it be a fog of conflicting messages? Will it be a cohesive message reflecting values you would be proud to pass on to your children?
You may be having trouble with your career, your marriage, or some other aspect of your life. Could it be a purpose problem? Might it be that you need to back away from the problem to gain perspective. Dare to reflect on your life’s purpose, which will be different from mine or anyone else’s. Then, with your purpose a little better understood, return. After relecting it may be an easy rearrangement of priorities. Who knows?
Cecilin’s time for serving his purpose is over. He should be proud of the life he lived especially given his physical shortcomings. Mine is not. So I recommit myself to two things:
- To staying tuned into my life’s purpose and refining it as necessary because it may reveal itself more clearly to me as time goes by.
- To constantly aligning my career, marriage, priorities and all my life so they serve that purpose.
I was brought into this world to serve a purpose and I want to deliver on it.
God bless you, Cecilin.