Some one in my recent history once described me as an anti-hero. The terminology came about as a reference to the kind of message I have been sharing, and why it seems to resonate with people of different walks of life.
So often in life, we are sold ideas and and methodologies of how to ‘win’ in life, how to ‘succeed’ and how to get everything you want. Such is the fairy tale ending that we all seem to be after. Our lives, no matter which part of the journey we are on, seem to be aiming for this ultimate destination where we can say we have won, or succeeded, or found that place where we can live happily ever after. This idea of thinking is endemic in our culture, and is also seeping into Christian faith based practice. It would seem the measure of our life is by how well we have done in either our marriage, our job, or our material possessions.
When we are children, we cannot wait till we are teenagers and the world is our oyster. When we are teenagers, we can’t wait till we leave school and gain some independence. When we have left school, we can’t wait till we have graduated to get our first job and start earning money. When we are single, we can’t wait till we are married (or settled down) with the women/man of our dreams. Then, kids become the panacea, followed by the desire to be rid of them. Finally, retirement seems to the pinnacle of our life’s achievements. At every step of the way, the next step seems to be greener grass that we desire. The fairy tale ending is just within our reach, yet just beyond it.
By far the majority of us will never find the promised fairy tale ending. Most of us will keep reaching for the next branch, thinking that will be the final one, only to discover it wasn’t as good as we anticipated, or that there are many other branches to climb before we arrive…. arrive where exactly, its hard to say.
Perhaps that is why my story resonates with people. Statistically, I’m unlikely to find my fairy tale ending. The next steps in life for me are probably going to be painful, and full of suffering. I will endure some of the hardest things I will ever have to face, and friends and family will be dragged through the same turmoil. There is no fairy tale ending here, only sadness, mourning, loss, and grief.
If we try to find our purpose in the ending, we only end up losing ourselves in the process of getting there. What I have discovered is that the purpose is in the journey, no matter where that journey leads us. The path we are on, no matter how successful or unsuccessful is littered with stories of meaning, of relationships, and of purpose. Through finding meaning in the journey, I am at peace that my outcome will NOT be the fairy tale ending, I have found purpose in the day to day living of my life. The colours are brighter, the relationships more vivid, and what it means to serve humanity is more apparent. I’m okay with dying, and I have come to that place by finding meaning and purpose in the journey rather than the destination.
Let’s also be clear, I’m not saying that meaning is found by accepting our inevitable and slow demise, I’m saying that by realizing it is the journey that is important, the inevitable demise no longer matters. The ending, whether good or bad pales into insignificance when contrasted against the reality of living the way God intended in our lives now.
I also have to be clear on another point. I have described the meaning found in the journey above without using God language, but the reality for me is that faith is an integral part of that journey. I cannot imagine any of these things apart from God. The meaning, the sanctity of life, the value of serving humanity, all comes from one source. And as such, deserves all my attention, all my focus, and all my energies.
This is why I’m an anti-hero. I don’t talk about conquering, overcoming, or being the victor. I talk about the reality of suffering in my life, and why I’m at peace with that. I talk about why more often or not, there is no fairy tale ending.
Thanks for listening.