Have you ever found yourself wondering if you do enough? Are you living up to your full potential? Is there more you could be doing? Have you missed an opportunity to do good today? Have you been so consumed by your own current circumstances that you are oblivious to what is going on in the lives of those around you? Well, I found myself asking some of those very questions recently.
Throughout the course of one of my days this week, besides work and home, I found myself in the University of Kentucky Emergency Room, the UK Hospital Cafeteria, near the UK Children’s Hospital, walking down the street and into the VA lobby, riding down the VA elevator to the parking garage and then driving home. Throughout the course of the events above, I encountered countless people. There were patients, family members, staff grabbing something to eat, there was the group of law enforcement officers gathered outside the ER holding vigil for their fallen brother, Officer Ellis, UK students hurrying to class or other activities, to the nurses and medical staff, to the volunteers who’d been on the 4th floor of the VA playing bingo and taking homemade treats to the veterans admitted there, to all the motorist I passed on my drive home. I began to wonder if there was more I could’ve done today to make a difference in someone’s life. I wondered if what I had said and done was enough, if it had been the right thing and if it had left a positive, lasting effect on the lives of those I’d had direct contact with.
All those people I’d directly or indirectly been in contact with have their own story, their own problems, their own intricately complicated life that they are simultaneously experiencing as I am experiencing mine. For a moment I began to feel a bit overwhelmed by the thought of how so many people have a need in their life and are going through something difficult or challenging. Where do you begin to help? I wondered if I should’ve spoken a word of encouragement or offered to pray for the group of officers I’d seen. My heart went out to them and Officer Ellis and his family and I began to think how awesome unity and brotherhood and family (biological or that born of a common bond or calling such as military or law enforcement) is. I thought of parents having to bring their sick children to UK for cancer treatment, or the college students- some carefree and oblivious- to others (medical students for example) who are dealing with not only their lives, but interacting with and witnessing the life and death struggle of strangers they encounter during the clinical studies. And the list of goes on and on.
Then suddenly my racing, beginning to become overwhelmed, mind was interrupted with this thought…. life is much like the pizza I’d seen for sale in the cafeteria earlier in the evening. We are each given a slice. That slice is ours to deal with and we are not responsible for anyone elses slice or even the slices that remain under the heating lamp for sale. What I mean is, God gives each of us assignment/task and He guides daily into those, every moment of everyday of our life. We cannot become overwhelmed or bogged down by the size of the needs that are around us. We can, however, be open and obedient to the leading of the Spirit of God and trust that He who began the good work in us will see us through to it’s completion.
Tonight as I was pondering my week and wrestling with my own wonderings of whether or not I’m reaching the mark so to speak. Am I making a positive, lasting mark on my world and accomplishing all I was created to be? I began to realize how our combat troops must feel when they return home from war. They go from a life in which they are in a daily fight to defend their life, the lives of their comrades and literally the freedom of our country…. to working a job, paying bills, dealing with the VA and the list of other daily life routines and challenges. That must be a shock to their system. I mean you go from getting shot at, shooting and killing an enemy, and watching your friends die to dealing with people who go ballistic if their fast food order is messed up. It has to be frustrating and more than a little mundane. I truly believe one of the biggest challenges facing our veterans is finding purpose. The warrior’s spirit is the strongest, the most resolved, and resilient you’ll ever find. They can face head on and deal with any challenge, push through any amount of pain and obstacle as long as they have a goal/a purpose/a reason for living. Take away their purpose and they are lost. A pilot flying at night relies heavily the planes instrument panel to know which direction to travel. Taking a veterans purpose is like removing the instrument panel from the plane and saying…. have fun flying.
Life, whether you’re a combat veteran, stay at home mom or business professional, changes. Sometimes things happen that destroy the “Normal” life we’ve known before. The key is to not try to recreate or live in the past. Instead, it’s okay to discover and step into a new “Normal.” Some things happen in life that cause us and our circumstances to never be the same. It’s okay to not want the change or even hate the change, but know that life isn’t over because of the change. The key is to adapt and overcome…. don’t give up!! Keep discovering your new purpose, your new “Normal.” It will take time, but it is possible.