Some months ago, I asked this question…to myself.
I always would flippantly comment: ‘Variety is the spice of life’. However, I was young at that point and I never imagined the ‘Variety’ I have encountered.
It’s been a rough journey for me. I have spent the past seven years often pleading with my God to take me Home; often arguing with Him and presenting my case as to why He should. Often, my argument was in regards to ‘Purpose’. I truly was convinced that I no longer had one; that purpose in my very existence had ceased to exist.
There are some tragedies in life I cannot relate to, and I thank God I have been spared from those. There are others I know too well. It is a knowledge I wish I never had to embrace. Having been molested as a child for three years and then raped twice at fifteen years old altered my path in life. Yet, when I had reached my thirties I found myself sitting on the Board of a major city’s Rape Crisis Center, working Hotlines and giving lectures at a Clinic in regards to incest survivors.
The twenty-four year marriage of abuse led me to be involved with battered women’s groups, volunteering at shelters, working more hotlines, and facilitating counseling groups. It also led me to design a Shame-Reduction program at a Women’s Center. The seven years of barrenness I endured while being told by professionals that I was not able to have children, along with four pregnancy losses, led to becoming a foster mom, an adopted mom, and eventually a mom to four by natural childbirth.
The death of my son, the most tragic of all events I have encountered, has now led me to set up a site for other Bereaved Parents. The spondylolisthesis that I developed as a result of being thrown, punched, kicked, etc. in my marriage has resulted in me living in a cage which was once considered my body. It has led me to being paralyzed on two occasions and excruciating physical pain from involuntary charlie-horses which bend my legs backwards as I lay on the floor screaming and begging…pleading…to die. However, this has resulted in what I do today…I write. I am incapable of doing much else. Whether or not the arthritis in my hands that causes my fingers to contort, at times, will soon change that is yet to be known. I do know that I feel an urgency to write as often and as much as I can, and redeem the time.
My two failed suicide attempts at age 14 and again at 39, along with the death by suicide of my two brother-in-laws and some friends, has caused me to go deeper in my Faith and personal beliefs while rejecting the societal shame and silence on such matters. It has caused me to speak out against such things as ‘Death with Dignity’ and euthanasia.
Hindsight is a gift of perspective. Would I prefer to be enjoying my ‘golden years’ by traveling all over the world, etc.? Obviously, yes. Yet, I hold out Hope that in the end this life will have served a greater purpose. Hindsight affords me the opportunity to see ‘fruit’ in all the suffering and excruciating pain…mentally, physically, and emotionally. It has caused my stubbornness to be transformed into tenacity. My ‘wild side’ has been transformed into a more vigilant and sober ‘me’. My shy and introverted nature has been transformed into a feisty ‘I will not quit’ personality. My laziness was transformed into a ‘Just Do It’ mentality. My carelessness in life metamorphosed, resulting in an appreciation of life…all life.
Do I still have purpose? Only time will tell. What I do know is that we cannot predict the future. We do not know what awaits us just around the corner. I no longer ask ‘why’, I ask ‘what’. What can I do with what I have been given? What can be accomplished in the midst of any given tragedy? What purpose may be found in what I have encountered?
There is always Hope.
2 Corinthians 1:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.