Finding Meaning and Purpose
June 6, 2020
I have to admit I am at a loss of how to write a letter of comfort right now, especially during these difficult times of racial unrest. While my heart is aching continually, I know that my ache is nothing like the ache of my black sisters and brothers. Coming from white privilege, I cannot even fathom the degree of pain they must be experiencing. So I ask myself, what comfort can I possibly offer since I have not walked in their shoes.
I remember also feeling that I could not relate when I read Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which describes the atrocities he and others experienced in the Jewish concentration camps during WWll. What he described was horrifying beyond belief. But what he also described was the strength of the human spirit. Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing…to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” This is so important to remember as we navigate these troubling times and as we lose hope and faith when the events of the world appear to be getting worse and worse.
While in the concentration camp, Frankl made it his mission to help others, despite the horrific circumstances he was in. He was not focusing on his self interest of survival by trying to meet his own physical needs. Instead, he was striving for the better good of all the prisoners, and thus, finding meaning to his life which had been stripped of virtually everything – adequate food and water, clothes, medical attention…you name it. He knew that if he focused on helping others, he was more likely to live than to die.
So how does this “meaning framework” apply now? We are all in pain and our black sisters and brothers are in more pain than can be imagined. Frankl was also in more pain than could be imagined, but he saw that his circumstances gave him the opportunity to transcend that pain by finding the meaning of his life through reaching out to help others with their profound struggles. His book’s purpose was to awaken people to their personal responsibility of fulfilling their destiny of serving a higher purpose and the greater good. This is what we see in our nation today as people gather to let it be known that enough is enough and that racial justice is THE answer. It’s as if the majority of the people in our nation are now collectively finding meaning and purpose, which is so necessary if our nation is to change for the good of all.
Prayer: God, we are hurting right now and it is difficult to thank you for this pain that is so necessary to bring about change. Please walk beside our suffering souls as we navigate these treacherous paths. Please guide us in taking the right actions so that we may serve the higher good. Help us remember to take these steps with love in our hearts. Amen
With love and peace,