Several weeks ago, I became enamored with the importance of Purpose, People and Peace--not necessarily in that order—and how significantly they are linked. “That’s life!” a client wife remarked. Her husband added, “Sounds eternal”. They are both right. People play a prominent role in achieving purpose. However, not necessarily a lot of people, and not necessarily in person, as will be discussed.
Purpose and peace, along with people, are apt to disappear when interrupted by changes or completely eliminated by moves, medical problems or loss of loved ones. Many grieving spouses suffer emotional numbness in finding their way alone--establishing new purposes, continuing friendships and reestablishing physical/inner peace.
My initial understanding of the word, peace, occurred in the early 40’s, when I was 10-12--a middle child of six--when mom would sigh deeply and whisper, “I need some peace and quiet”, which meant, why don’t you kids go outside to play? Most of us strive together for physical and environmental peace and happiness with our families and the world in which we live and work. Inner peace is a private matter and will be discussed on page two.
Definition: Purpose is used as a noun, verb or adjective. The object toward which one strives; an aim or goal; “Her purpose in coming here is to talk to you”. I’m using the noun form as in persistence, resolve; to will, deliberate.
Synonyms: motivation, cause, impetus, occasion, reason, point, basis, intention, aim, object, goal, desire, design, resolve, ambition, decision, aspiration, undertaking, benefit, wish, or outcome. An action--meaningful and/or worthy goal--completed for yourself or someone else.
Research: Discussing Purpose, People and Peace with brother John, he was reminded about Viktor Frankl an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor whose books and work have benefited many. Frankl was born in 1905, growing up learning the theories of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, and graduated from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1930. He became the Director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital. In 1942, however, his life abruptly changed when Frankl and his family were deported to a Nazi concentration camp. While struggling to survive in the Nazi camp, drawing from his experiences and observations, he developed the theory of logotherapy, referring to meaning or purpose. Viktor Frankl coined the term logotherapy based on his belief that the search for meaning, even amidst suffering, can constitute a potential solution to human suffering. Frankl focused primarily on helping people find the will to live.
People: Vietnam prisoners, in isolation, yearning for contact with others developed a tapping language for dialogue, hymns and scriptures. God designed us to need/hunger for fellowship. Without it, people die physically if not emotionally. Purpose, people and peace seem to fall neatly into two main categories: personal wellbeing and enjoyment and goals/actions/intentions that are beneficial to others, which often include spiritual, environmental and emotional goals as well. Without purpose, lives lack meaning. Without people, some meaningful purpose is absent. A balance of purpose and people is essential for establishing emotional peace.
Before writing, in analyzing the variety of my own purposes, the most satisfying was encouraging others--which goes along with my ENFJ temperament. I’m not very reliable in repairing broken items; I even need help when my stapler is out of staples or my ink pad needs ink. I’m reminded of my close connections with unseen people—readers—who call or write to check to see if I’m okay when a blog is missed. Knowing that readers receive help encourages me to keep on keeping on, as a friend wrote--her friends say “koko”. Connections with people—young and old—is tantamount to emotional survival. Take a minute to think out or write out some of your purposes…. for yourself and others. You will be surprised at how many. A question later on may surprise you, too.
In discussing purpose with brother Mac regarding how Eileen’s blindness had destroyed her former hands-on purposes of cooking, keeping a perfect house, entertaining family and friends, writing letters, sending cards and as a deacon in her church, seeing after her flock of members assigned to her giving rides and providing other physical and spiritual assistance to them and independently driving to appointments, shopping and traveling, Mac said, “Even though my hands-on purposes have increased in taking care of Eileen, I’ve become acutely aware of how much she did for me for many years. I thank her over and over for what she has done in the past.” Hearing Mac’s memory and thanks for what she has done, in turn, augments her sense of personal value. Then, I shared with Mac the conversation that Eileen and I had earlier in the week, when she and I discussed how blindness, in a few days, abruptly ended her expert hands-on purposes. To my question whether she had purpose today, she said,
“Absolutely! I want to help as many people as I can with my story. God is using me to be a good witness. I have lost my sight. That is what it is. It just happened. I am not being punished and I don’t feel cheated. I know that God will take care of me and that Jesus is sad that I cannot see. The last thing I want is sympathy. I hear very well and my memory is very good. I’m very content. Mac takes very good care of me. My children call me every day and they come for visits as often as they can. I have a purpose with my little Izzy puppy. She’s always by my side or on my lap. She seems to understand that I need her and what I am unable to do.” I was impressed but not surprised to hear Eileen describe her present purpose with people, along with the peace of mind that it brings.
As people age or are physically limited in completing physical tasks once performed, they transition to listening, speaking and praying to fulfill purposeful endeavors like in Eileen’s case. Rather than have hands-on purpose she has become Mac’s chief purpose. I concluded that purpose is a two-way street---we have others in mind with our purpose and others have us in mind for some of their purposes. Ask yourself: Am I the recipient of someone’s purpose?
I enjoy cooking and serve a family meal now and then. Kay brings a meal every Tuesday, to which I occasionally contribute a dish. Her purposes for me expands to picking up weekly groceries, chauffeuring to places too far for me to drive alone, accompanying me to certain appointments, picking me up on snowy or heavy raining days, etc. I am also the point of my sons’ purposes as they travel many hours to help me with home and yard needs and call to check on me often.
A friend knows what kind of ice cream I like that is difficult to find. She knows where to get it, but it’s too far for me to drive. She keeps my freezer stocked. I am delighted to be on her purpose list. A friend, also a widow who I haven’t seen for 50 years calls me once a month. She resides in a retirement village and finds great joy in calling and encouraging widow friends.
Several blog readers encourage me greatly by responding regularly with comments and suggestions. I’m glad to be on their purpose list. Being willing to let others help you is difficult for some, but mark my word, there’ll come a day when you will appreciate being on someone’s purpose list. It’s normal not to want to trouble anyone in assisting us, but in order for people to have purpose, we need to allow them to pamper us if they want to. I said to my mom often when she didn’t want to ask for help to let others do for you what you would gladly do for them. People who have time to share are greatly blessed when we allow them to put us on their purpose list. Another friend brings me home baked cookies, and other food items. I enjoy baking but haven’t done much since Jim passed away. I did it especially for him.
Inner spiritual peace develops from a personal relationship with God through Christ. Understanding that we are personally loved by God and he walks with us all through our life and gives us renewed confidence and a sense of peace that can get us through the toughest situations and losses. Zoom has made staying connected with Bible classes and worship services possible--one positive thing we can credit COVID with. Inner peace helps us to tolerate all the negative talk and actions of the world, in the workplace, schools and neighborhoods. I trust that these verses will encourage deep peace and encourage you.
A heart at peace gives life to the body…Prov. 14:30. NIV.
Great peace have those who love your law and nothing can make them stumble. Ps. 119:165 NIV.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Isa. 26:3 NIV.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. John 14:27 NIV. We have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith…Rom. 5:1 NIV.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil: 4:6-7
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Col. 3:15
Jesus said to his Disciples (and to us) I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever…I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you. John 14:16-18 NIV.