Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Search For Purpose

In early December 1987, the Warden family jumped into their grey Dodge Caravan to cut down a Christmas tree.  Mom, Dad, my brothers and I normally picked up our pre-cut pine tree from the local garden center.  This year Dad wanted to cut down our own tree.  So we grabbed our rusty saw and off we went.

A few miles down the road, mom asked if we were buckled in.  I wasn't belted.  I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "I should probably buckle up, but I'd rather not".  I thought about the potential consequences of being in an accident, but decided the chances were slim.  My brothers put on their seat belts, and I stubbornly looked at my seat belt, and did nothing.

We were driving east down county road 8 and stopped at the stop sign before crossing highway 13. My dad looked left, and didn't look long enough right before crossing.  He proceeded to cross highway 13. My brothers and I were fooling around in the back when my mother gasped loudly.  Upon hearing mom I started to look out the window and -- BANG a conversion van traveling north on highway 13 hit the passenger side of our Dodge.  

I blacked out and awakened a few moments later face down on the asphalt.  Shattered glass was all around me.  The van that had struck us, was just a few feet from my head.   Being only 11 years old at the time, I was scared.  But completely unharmed.  Not one scratch, cut, or bruise.  I quickly jumped to my feet and ran back to my family who were still belted in the car. 

The back gate was flung open.  It became obvious this is how I exited the vehicle.  Either the gate opened upon impact, or my less than 100 pound flying body hit the back hatch and forced it ajar.  I entered the car the way I exited and climbed over the back seat to where I was sitting before anyone noticed I was missing.

My youngest brother was crying, my mother tried to calm him, and my father was quiet.  What was going to be a memorable day, became memorable in a much different way than we thought.  

The days following the accident, teachers and family members told me that I must have a good guardian angel.  Who was I to argue with them?  Was I just really lucky, or did I really have a guardian angel?

Many years later I often reflect back to that December day and I can't help but think: I shouldn't have survived.  Why didn't I die?  The more I think about it, the more I believe God protected me.   Why did he protect me?   Am I here in Jordan, Minnesota to fulfill a part of His plan?  Its been over two decades since this has happened, have I done what He wanted me to do?  If not, what is His plan for me?  Is it to build a relationship with someone?  To be there for someone when they need it?  To be a good parent?  To write this blog for you? 

And so I search for purpose.

Maybe instead of searching for my purpose what I should be doing is leading a life of purpose.  The difference is living life deliberately.  If I search for my purpose, I may never find it.  Searching and hoping to find purpose postpones fulfillment for the future and leaves me unfulfilled today.

The emphasis is not finding your singular snowflake purpose, but living deliberately where you start to experience a life of purpose.  It's all about creating experiences built for others now.

When I ask people what their purpose is, the one's that are lost, think about their purpose in the future tense, the ones that are leading a life of purpose think of a recent past event that occurred this morning or yesterday.

That's what I will try to do... live life intentionally, right now.  I assume my life will still have difficulties, and heartaches, but I will be happier today, and not sacrifice happiness today for delayed gratification that may not come.

Tomorrow is not promised.  I'm lucky to have lived after flying out the back of a dodge caravan, now the challenge is to live as if I'm on borrowed time.

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