Why Me? Why Here? Why Now?

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but from time to time, I have asked myself those all-too-human questions in the title of this post. Usually, I’m sorry to admit, when I ask them, I’m asking them in a petulant, frustrated, even accusatory way. Something hasn’t happened the way I thought it should go, or didn’t happen at all, and I metaphorically stamp my feet like a thwarted spoiled toddler. And, if we’re really being honest with ourselves, we have to admit we all do it at times. Or at least, we think about it, or want to.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Instead, I want to bring in something almost never seen on this blog, simply because of the personal deficiencies of the blogger. I’m talking about numbers and statistics. I normally don’t use them because I’m mathematically dyslexic, but changes to how my computer’s screen presents itself makes it somewhat less difficult. So, here goes!

This information comes from a sermon we heard recently at church by a visitor, Reverend Rudolph, a retired pastor who now works with the para-church organization Food For The Poor. It was also printed on the Food For The Poor brochure handed out to everyone there.

English: The first image taken by humans of th...

There are 7,000,000,000 (that’s 7 billion, if you don’t care to count the zeros) people, about, now on our planet. Of them, 360,000,000 (360 million) live in North America. The chances of you reading this and not living in North America are so likely as to be astronomical. I don’t think I have any international followers . . . yet. (If I do, please prove me wrong in the comments section!) Of all the people who ever lived on this planet, as near as statisticians are able to agree, if you are living in North America now, in 2013, you had a 1/1599th chance of doing it! Meaning, of all the people who live now, and who ever lived, only 1 in 1600 

English: A composed satellite photograph of No...

live in North America now.

Can you get your mind around that last number? Does it blow you away like it did me? Hearing it, all of a sudden, the questions which are the title of this post take on a whole new meaning! It ultimately comes back to our purpose, the question of why we were each born. It is an essential question which many deny, or deflect in rounds of meaningless pursuits, until they reach their life’s end and realize all too well the consequences of their choices.

Actions, and thus in-actions, have consequences. To deny we have a purpose in life is to deny an essential part of ourselves. Deep down, if we are being at all honest with ourselves, we all know we want to know why we’re here. We all want to know our purpose, our calling, our reason for being here.

The good news is to find your purpose, and then to start to live it out, is one of the sources of great joy in life. I know this from experience. While taking the Mental Fitness Challenge from LIFE, one of the lessons revolved around our purpose in life. I puzzled over that for days, until it finally struck me in a, “DUH!” moment of complete clarity. All of the sudden, many of the things I liked to do, that I was good at and enjoyed getting better at, were what I realized was part of me expressing my unique purpose in life.

What is your purpose? Why are you here? Why now? These are questions everyone needs to face. But we don’t need to face them alone. The same God who loves us so much, the One I spoke of in Who Loves You, Baby? is waiting to help you. Because, you see, it’s not just your purpose. It’s the purpose He created you to have. It’s what He formed you, and only you, to do. That unique purpose, that special mission to a time, to a place, to a people is why you are here now, in this time, in this place and with these gifts. I welcome you to the journey of discovery in finding the joy of why you were born.

I wish you joy in your journey,

Cathy

The Courage To Stay (Part 2) – Historical Examples and Lessons

Hernán Cortés

In 1504, explorer Hernan Cortes left the island of Cuba and landed on the mainland of Central America. He and his 500 men were sent to explore and conquer the territory they found.

When the men learned they were severely out numbered, they tried to return to Cuba. Cortes stopped them with threats and promises of treasure. He then sent his most trusted officers to sink the ships they came in, to cut off their means of escape. The tactic was initially unsuccessful, and attempted again the following night. By this time, the men knew what Cortes was doing, and there was an angry confrontation. Cortes convinced his men this was a war they could win. They agreed to burn the remaining ship, cutting off their last hope of retreat. History records they conquered the Aztecs, taking back much wealth and treasure of many kinds to Spain in colonial glory.

In 1849, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, along with his fellow members of the Petrashevsky Circle, was sentenced to death for what the Russian courts considered

Photo of F. Dostoevsky Русский: Фёдор Михайлов...

subversive activities. At the last moment, his sentence was commuted with a note from Tsar Nicholas I, and changed to 4 years of hard labor in Siberia. Raised in wealth and opulence, the imprisonment was hard on Dostoyevsky’s health, and he suffered life-long consequences. He took out of it a firm resolve to make his writings count, and write each as if it were his last. By facing death so clearly, Dostoyevsky allowed it to rise himself above the trivialities of his life. Initially a journalist, he became one of the most beloved classic Russian authors.

Baden Panorama

Baden Panorama

In the stories of King Arthur and his Round Table, there are tales of the battle of Baden Hill. Arthur and his knights were surrounded, and hopelessly out numbered by their foes. (Who their foes were differs from story to story.) Using the stones of the hill, it is told they built a fort, where they took a small time to regroup and rest. Then, using what they had with horses, men, arrows and spears, they engaged their enemies. They had a great victory, with almost total defeat for their enemies, and some injury but almost no loss of life for them.

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Like the parable in my earlier post, in these historical examples,I have explored with you, dear reader, aspects of the courage it takes to stay when others are running away. I know, there is a proverbial saying, “He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.” But oftentimes, he (or she) who runs away might not get their chance to fight another day.

Sometimes, standing and fighting, even in the face of what looks to be insurmountable odds, is the thing you have to do, because you know it’s the right thing to do. It’s often been said the toughest fights are not seen out of people (or creatures) until their back is against a wall, whether the wall be physical or proverbial.

Strategists call this place “death ground.” When a person or group is on death ground, they will fight as if their very lives depend on it, because they do. Sure, running away evades and avoids a conflict that might end in death ground. But staying, even if it means risking a conflict on a death ground, leads to a greater potential of reward, even if the reward is in honor and personal satisfaction, and not treasure or riches.

So, what can we do if we find ourselves on death ground, or with a good possibility of being there?

  1. Take that one and only chance approach. If you’re not already on death ground but it’s close, sincerely consider its risks and rewards. 
  2. Act as if it’s you, or you and your companions, against the world. There is almost nothing more exhilarating than a death ground fought with a good and trusted company of warriors. King Arthur’s Round Table was just such a group.
  3. Do not wait to be ready. Act sooner. “He who hesitates is lost” is a proverb more often than not true.
  4. Stay restless. Don’t seek comfort. As New York Times best-selling author and award-winning blogger Chris Brady says, It’s not a comfort zone. It’s a familiar zone.”

What if you are the aggressor, and your opponent is on death ground? Be aware that opponent has nothing to lose. Death ground works for them, and against you.

The wise understand death ground will come at times, whether they look for it or not, and meet it with courage and strength. Fools run around looking for it, even when they don’t need to, and will even make it happen, for the thrill it brings. Cowards avoid it, fearing its losses and not seeing its potential rewards. Those who have the courage to stay and wisely face the death ground they are given are the ones who rise, rewarded by the love of their followers and the wealth of their experiences there.

The Courage To Stay (Part 1) – A Parable

Once upon a time, there was a land ruled over by a benevolent and kind king and his council. His subjects, though few, were happy. His dukes and princes came from the ranks of common people and acquired their titles through great service to them.

Each duke and prince was responsible for the well-being of the people in their region, and they worked hard to help they prosper and succeed. It gave the common people joy to know they could aspire to their ranks. As word of the happy kingdom spread, more people came, desiring to be subjects of this good king, and thus the kingdom grew and prospered.

Eventually, as time passed, the good king grew old and tired, and passed the rulership of his kingdom to his sons. He counselled them to listen to the advice of the council, as well as the dukes and princes. And for a time, as the sons learned to rule, they took this wise advice. So the kingdom continued to prosper and grow.

After some time, however, some of the older council members passed their titles on to newer ones the sons chose. Unfortunately, the sons began to slowly choose people who would want to do things to help the sons and the council, and not always the people. They also began to build up armies, which quickly grew great in size and influence.

Many of the dukes and princes started telling the sons and the council how their decisions were harming the people and the kingdom. Some started visiting other kingdoms, and the sons sent their armies against them, declaring them traitors. The dukes and princes who stayed kept telling the sons about the harm they were doing. At the same time, they were encouraging the people to do the right things for the kingdom, telling them not to visit other kingdoms or rebel.

Finally, the sons, their council and the generals of their armies met with some of the leaders of the dukes and princes who were speaking out for the people and kingdom. The dukes and princes were told if they did not stop speaking, they would be called traitors and the armies would be sent against them, too. With great courage, these dukes and princes said they’d rather be called traitors and have armies against them, then to harm the people any more.

The dukes and princes went to a no man’s land, where no kings dwelt. Many of the people who were encouraged by them followed them. Life was hard there, with no livelihood, and the armies of the kingdom coming against them. The dukes and princes gladly gave of what they had so the people would be able to live. Most of them stuck together, and the strong survived the wilderness.

Eventually, another kindly king heard of their plight, and offered to give the dukes, princes and people land to build new homes. The offer was gladly accepted, and all the people rejoiced at the compassion of the king. The people, who had grown weak and almost starved on their journeys, began to recover and thrive once more.

But the armies of the sons’ kingdom still came against them again and again. Time after time, the dukes and princes would have to go to war, while the common people were able to rest in safety, and often in ignorance.

Eventually, a few of the dukes and princes tired of the war, and signed a peace treaty, while the others fought on. The peace treaty divided the dukes and princes, and eventually the people. Those who signed the treaty went to another part of the new kingdom, farther from the borders and war, to live in more safety. Most of their people left with them, but some stayed. These were called turncoats by their dukes and princes.

Those who refused to sign the peace treaties stayed with their people, refusing to sacrifice their honor for some safety. It took great courage for these dukes and princes to stay! The dukes and princes saw some of the people who stayed had no one to lead them, and accepted them as their own. These people had great gratitude towards their new dukes and princes! Most of the people knew very little of the fight of the dukes and princes, and the toll it was taking on them. But the dukes and princes continued the war, because now it was a matter of honor to them.

After long years and much struggle, the dukes and princes won their war. The victory was a quiet one for them, because most of the people still didn’t know how hard they’d fought. Soon, though, they went to the new king and told him they wanted to start their own kingdom, in alliance with his. They would move mostly out of his territory, into uncharted lands that looked to their scouts to be very prosperous, which were right on the borders of where they now were. They offered trade agreements and exclusive accesses. To their delight, the kindly king agreed to all their requests and gave they his blessing! The dukes and princes who’d moved into safer areas tried to join them, but the king and the brave dukes and princes who stayed said only those who’d had the courage to stay during the hard times of war were welcome during the prosperous times of peace.

The dukes and princes who had the courage to stay became the ruling council and set up a peaceful kingdom, where the people flourished and the kingdom grew quickly. New dukes and princes arose, and some even rose to the ruling council. The alliance with the kindly king held firm, and the agreements blessed both sides. The kingdom was a happy place, and the people rejoiced in the wisdom and courage of their rulers.

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There are many examples of courage in literature and history. In my parable, I have explored with you, dear reader, a few aspects of the courage it takes to stay when others are running away. In my next post, The Courage To Stay – Historical Examples (Part 2), I will go more specifically into it.