“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms-the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Frankl
I’ve been grappling with purpose lately. Yes, that word we often trip over while trying a little too hard. Viktor Frankl and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have been whispering in my ear and now I know that it is no coincidence. When I started reading their books I didn’t realize that they were both living and writing from the same experiences during the Nazi regime.
So far what I’m getting from them is not what we have or don’t have that leads us to purpose, but how we respond when our flesh is focused on what we have or don’t have. Frankl says that in the concentration camps, men became both saintly and evil. They lost their way when they lost their hope that there is meaning in suffering.
Bonhoeffer shared an experience about when he traveled to New York and found himself doing life among African American churches. He noted that they lived in community as those persecuted for their faith in Germany. Rallying and supporting one another while guiding the younger to live a life worth living.
Both of these men passed down their experiences and observations on living with meaning. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ends at the top with self-actualization, to become the most that one can be. Just like there aren’t many billionaires, there aren’t many who live at or near the top of the triangle.
My suggestion is to trust community again. Rub elbows and share the “pew” with people who aren’t like you on the outside (that is if you like to see exponential growth). Because on the inside we are more alike than we know. I’ve been in so many groups since 2020 where the back story may be different, but the deep desire or need is to belong and have something that we can work on that gives meaning to the suffering we’ve been experiencing.
Of course this all circles back to why I do what I do, building communities where we can try to do something different hoping for a new result. I need this, and those who have been brave enough to give it a go with me, have been seeing tremendous progress in how they experience life.
Where is it scary and vulnerable to share weaknesses, hard experiences, or secret desires our community has found freedom.
Where hope was lost in broken relationships, life has been found and restored.
Where confusion on who we are is now becoming clear and accepted.
It’s amazing what happens when we sojourn with others through life.
What is your deepest hope? What have you been missing? Are you willing to try something new to fill in the gaps and have a meaningful & purpose filled life?