I’ve been talking a lot about purpose here lately. What if we don’t know what it is? What if it isn’t what we imagined? What if it feels quite small?
Today I am wondering if you have had a life that is so painful, so riddled with hurt; can you still even have a purpose? After all, how many times can you drop a vase, break it and repair it before it can no longer be purposeful?
Like you, I have been witness to the tragedy in Boston. I limit a lot of my viewing to stay away from the constant assumptions early on and the declarations of “what is the world coming to?” One thing I have seen that has stayed with me etched in my heart, is a single man with a cowboy hat. I knew I couldn’t be alone, so yesterday I actually searched “Man in cowboy hat at Boston.” My heart lept as I saw article after article. The world noticed this man.
I won’t post a picture because I know you’ve seen too much at this point, but read this snippet from THIS article (article in full contains graphic pictures and an autoplay video)…
Carlos Arredondo was waiting at the Boston Marathon finish line for runners who were racing on behalf of fallen soldiers…
He lost his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, during the 20-year-old’s second tour of duty in Iraq in 2004. Arredondo got the news on his 44th birthday, and immediately climbed inside the Marine Corps van and set it afire, burning himself severely. He became a peace activist and started sharing his son’s story via a mobile memorial in his pickup truck that he drives around the country, and in 2007 he was beaten at a Washington anti-war demonstration.
Four years later, his other son, Brian, killed himself at 24. He had struggled with depression and drug addiction after his brother’s death, Mother Jones reports; he was facing jail at the time of his suicide.
“We are broken people,” Arredondo told the Boston Herald last year.
That last sentence from a year ago…”We are broken people.” I ask again, can one be so broken that one is no longer purposeful? I’m sure that at several points in Arredondo’s life, he believed that. I am sure he railed against the heavens for a break from the hurt, for a reason. I’m sure he looked at all the broken pieces and knew that he could no longer fix the broken.
So a year later, where do we see him? Pushing his way into a scene so grisly, that I can’t bear to fathom, to help the broken. Risking fear of the unknown and fulfilling a purpose I am sure he couldn’t have imagined.
How did he explain his purpose?
“You have to get out of that shock” that comes with tragedy, he said. You have to act. “In this case, my instinct was to be a humanitarian.”
Are you at a point in the tragedy of your life that you question your purpose? Have you been broken so badly that you can’t see how you could be purposeful?
Will you be willing to “get out of that shock that comes with tragedy” and the fear of the unknown to become one whose purpose is to rush into the broken? Will you answer the call of purpose when you hear it without considering what you once were; broken, unworthy, scared, alone and useless? Sometimes it is those who are broken the worst, who reach beyond themselves and to another whose needs are greater.
So what is this world coming to?
A place for the broken to heal with purpose. It’s a world that needs a man with a cowboy hat.