Learning what doesn’t work, is the work of a lifetime, but often we approach it by trying to figure out what does work for us. It’s a trial and error process for most – often discouraging, and occasionally rewarding. Most of us stumble through this process and grab the first things that work for us. This works for many people. It doesn’t work well for everyone.
My first round of success in emergency services was fun, rewarding, and quite successful. Yet, at some point I grew restless and bored. I dreamed of bigger things and a life beyond the streets. It was a trip to Mexico that my eyes were opened. When I saw the needs there, especially in EMS, I realized, for the first time, there were bigger fish to fry. The effort I put into improving EMS in the US might create small, incremental changes and result in some quality improvements, but that same amount of effort would greatly reduce mortality and morbidity in developing nations.
As I processed through this reality, I also began to process through some failures in my life. I realized that drinking and partying were not working for me. Bingo! Just like that, I realized one thing that didn’t work. Unfortunately, it took about 15 years to pull out of that trap I’d fallen into. As I found serenity and spiritual alignment, I put less value on a medical approach to lifesaving and more on the eternal spiritual values. This process helped me to better clarify my life’s purposes and passions – and yet, the pressures of life continued to press from all angles.
“We’re told we need…”
We’re told we need money, housing, and food to survive – and beyond that, society tells us we need a big house, nice car, and an impressive job in order to acquire the “success” label. It’s easy to want society’s accolades, affirmations, and adorations - and yet, for some, these trappings are a dead-end.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have the house, car, and financially successful career, but sometimes the constraints are not worth the benefits. Sometimes there are things far more important than social affirmation. For me, I’ve clearly found that family works very well for me – and I’m unwilling to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone, anything, or any job.
Four years ago some people tried to bully me into putting more emphasis on my career and less on my family. I said no and was fired for it. A year and a half ago I lost a management promotion because my family had needs that were greater than the pressures my boss was putting on me. Six months ago, I walked away from that same job because it was killing me and killing my family. Of course this means we’re losing our house, have no income, and have zero financial security. Now what?
Over the course of the last several months I have received greater clarity on my purpose and passion.
I have a passion for helping men be better men; to enable fathers to be better fathers; and to strengthen families and marriages. From my observations, men have struggled since the women’s movement gained traction 40 years ago. Women needed to stand up and be heard, but one of the unintended consequences is that men, generally, were left confused and disoriented. In the meantime, they forgot to step up and be true to their roles as husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and manly men. Just because we better understand the needs of women, it doesn’t mean we have to diminish our own selves.
Men without a purpose, do not engage with life, with their wives, with their families, or in their careers. Too many men lose their families because they don’t stay in the battle. These men are broken, scared, and have forgotten how to be men. They are broken. Broken men reproduce themselves through broken children.
Because of the peace and joy I’ve found through repairing my brokenness, I’d like to help other men find the same serenity. this is my passion, purpose, and calling.
Interestingly, or unfortunately, there are a lot of pressures that seem to keep me from pursuing this passion. A month ago, I began writing a book. In this day and this economy, it takes more than just putting words on the screen – it’s about building an audience and publishing network. More than personal creativity, art, and sharing – there are technical distractions.
But, bigger than this are the personal, social, and familial distractions. Family needs come before the creation of art and the saving of others. If I don’t put my family above my personal passions, than I am still failing – again. This passion, like my earlier passions can never supersede my personal serenity – or my family’s.
Sometimes, like today, I wake up ready to write – but before I know it, other people’s priorities and needs have swept over me and I don’t get to write. That’s OK – it will work out.
“What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”