Our purpose is sometimes revealed in unexpected, sometimes sad, even violent ways … like when we experience something personally or something happens to someone close to us and we feel compelled to act. Candy Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving after a drunk driver, who had a history of arrests for intoxication, hit and killed her daughter.
Whose life will be saved by the protection your passion puts into place?
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes we’re exposed to something for the very first time and we don’t believe it’s possible to live without this …something in our lives. Think Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Misty wasn’t introduced to ballet until the relatively late age of 13 yet was dancing en pointe three months later. What if she had never taken that first class?
Now she’s creating opportunities for young kids of color to discover the discipline of ballet.
Who needs to be exposed to your passion?
“I’m 5’2″; I started when I was 13, I’m Black, but I’ve made it happen. I’m very lucky to be where I am … it’s possible.” ~ Misty Copeland
I first experienced the Air Force Academy graduation “March On” in 2013. I was there for the graduation and commissioning of my cousin, Wes Cobb, and I still remember that moment of giddiness during the ceremony when I realized the graduates were going to MARCH TO THEIR SEATS!
Yesterday, as I watched the 2017 Academy graduation, saw the precision execution of the “March On”, listened to the call for excellence, I thought about Army 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins. Killed before he could serve his country, lynched, according to some, for being black, Collins is another victim of the violence perpetuated on people of color in American.
And I wondered how the almost 300 officers of color commissioned feel about their oath to “support and defend” a country which doesn’t always provide a safe space for them…
This weekend another young black male died violently, this time on a college campus, allegedly stabbed by a white male member of a hate group. This newly commissioned Army officer, on the precipice of a “limitless life” had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” of his country…this America where he is hated and hunted because of the color of his skin.
And I grieve for what has been lost, for his family, his classmates and his fellow Americans who understand that America is great because of people like Richard W. Collins III.
“As a United States Army Officer who gladly puts his life on the line everyday…there’s no greater conflict within me. How do I feel about my country? And how does my country…feel about me? Are we only to be Americans when the mood suits you?”
Lawrence Fishborne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis in the movie, Tuskegee Airman
I’ve been writing a lot about the struggles we face on the way to being who we are purposed to be…those experiences we experienced as negative when they happened that turned our lives around; the choices we made that taught us what wouldn’t work; the tremendous effort expended that didn’t turn out as expected but showed us what we were capable of.
Yet as parents, we often try to shield our children from these very experiences, which enable their development…to their and our detriment…
“Children learn to navigate risks—not through discussions or TV shows—but by actually taking risks.” ~ Tim Elmore, Growing Leaders.
The reaction to a test is often to retreat. The business we built fails so we determine we’re not cut out for entrepreneurship. The competition won the contest so we stop training. The relationship implodes so we vow to never, EVAH, as long as we’re black to be in another relationship … oh wait…that was me!
The key to not getting stuck in the story is to realize the lesson, appreciate the knowledge gained and be intentional about not choosing that particular path again. And ask for Divine help…’cause there will be another test…
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” ~ 1 Peter 1: 7 NLT
When I think of some of the people I most admire, people who are applying their passion to a solving a problem in the world, it’s usually not just because of the amazing work they are doing. Or even their demonstrated courage to step out and live their dreams.
I admire the people I admire often because they’ve overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. Some have overcome low expectations, some have escaped the prison of poverty, and others have survived near death experiences…and their experiences seem to have made them stronger, resilient…fearless.
“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls; the most massive character are seared with scars.” ~ Khalil Gibran
In my early 30s, I experienced some major disruptions in my life. I left an abusive marriage and took my toddler out of the country to a new assignment in England, courtesy of Uncle Sam. And then DESERT STORM happened.
At first it, was difficult to get my footing. I had to find a place on the economy that wasn’t looking for a man to guarantee the rent. I beat myself up for thinking my daughter would easily transition to a big-girl bed. Why didn’t I bring the crib? I worried about deploying; should I send my 3-year-old to the States? I wondered if I could juggle all the demands…
But we survived. In fact, we didn’t just survive, we thrived! And I learned some things about myself…
“If I have to, I can do anything I am strong I am invincible I am woman…” Helen Reddy, I Am Woman
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” ~ Philippians 4:13, MSG