“Life is never made unbearable by circumstance but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
Good morning, friends! Did you melt last week in the heat? I sure hope not because we’re not out of it yet. Hang on.
Years ago I learned in business school that economics is often called “the dismal science.” I don’t know about that but I can say that much of the work of a minister is a “dismal science.” I’m not bemoaning my work; I love it. I’m talking about much of the material of my work. For sixteen years now I’ve experienced people expressing defeat, sadness, loneliness, fear, frustration, mild depression and more. In every single case the cause expressed to me is the circumstance.
Lest you think I’m judging my congregants, I too look in the mirror too often and see myself defeated by my own circumstance. Are you ever defeated by your current circumstance? Sure, we all have our moments.
Victor Frankl understands. As young man Frankl was an Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor. Frankl struggled during his internment to understand himself and maintain his sense of self. The thoughts and efforts that began in a concentration / elimination camp shaped his life work. He discovered the elusive eternal truth that self is not defined or energized by external circumstance but instead by the inner drive of meaning and purpose.
The business of ministry affords me the opportunity to examine lives, sometimes my own. I see how many people experience similar circumstances and express a limited but varied set of outcomes. Not everyone experiences challenging circumstances and takes the path of a negative view of self. Occasionally I am blessed by the unique persons who define self by meaning and purpose, who rise above circumstance (albeit slowly or difficultly sometimes; life is just hard once in a while). And in them I see Frankl’s truth, that the ability to bear life essentially lies in our choice to be of meaning and purpose or not, to be of positively expressed energy or not.
What circumstance are you focused on right now that’s getting you no where? What’s your meaning and purpose that will carry you above all of it? What do you need to get back your commitment to your meaning and purpose? I don’t know your circumstance but I do know it hardly matters. What matters is you and your inner drive to be of purpose and energy. Remember what you are about and get to it. I have faith in you! Have a great week!