During my lifetime I have read quite a few books; not as many as some people, but more than most. The book shelves in my home contain a considerable number of books and I’m proud to say that with scant few exceptions I have read every single one of them at least once. Several of them I’ve read more than once and a few, many more times than once. The genre for most of those relate to history of people and/or events. And, there are novels on my book shelves as well.
I have a fairly complete collection of Steinbeck; the same for Michener and Agatha Christie. Michener is among my favorites because his writing is a wonderful blend of history and fiction which I find both entertaining and educational. But, the fact remains that my favorites all involve history.
I share in Dear Mom and Dad, my early childhood experience with the children’s library at the Methodist church in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and the wonderful collection of biographies of the founders of our country and others who were influential in our country’s history.
As I grew older I began to read more sophisticated biographies. Some of those were of the same people and some were of different people that I had no prior knowledge of. Obviously they all had different backgrounds and were influenced by a variety of events in their personal and public lives, but the thing that I was fascinated by was what made them rise above the crowds they were born into.
None of their births were heralded by heavenly hosts and the arrival of magi bearing gifts. They all began life in very ordinary circumstances in most cases. So what made them so different that people want to remember them and their contributions to our world and our country?
In the late ‘90s actor Jim Carrey narrated and briefly appeared in a movie titled “Simon Burch.” The title character, played by Ian Michael Smith, was a small physically handicapped, boy that refused to let his handicap deter him from diving into life with gusto. He stated frequently that he was born to “do something important.” He eventually did do something important and what he did ultimately led to his death. His selfless act was one that would go unnoticed by the world outside of his small town. But, for the lives he saved and their families his act was “something important.” The point here is that, even though the story is fictional, it shares a thread of purpose with all the real heroes of our world … an overriding sense of purpose.
In all of my reading, I don’t remember any discussions of a “sense of purpose.” Maybe that’s because a “sense of purpose” was just assumed. After all, isn’t purpose or a sense of purpose, generally behind all great accomplishments?
I don’t remember when I began to feel as though God had a specific purpose for my life; that I was supposed to become one of those people that others write about; that I was to “do something important. And, I don’t recall when I lost that sense of purpose, although I believe that it was lost along the alcoholic path of my misspent young adult years.
When I sobered up, my focus became one of attempting to make up for all my failures and prove to Marilyn that I could be the person she expected when she married me. When she died I felt that the only thing left for me in this life was to learn to live with the grief of losing her … and to learn why God took her away and left me all alone.
Reflecting back on my life at that time I concluded that it was doubtful that I would ever be one of those people whose life was worth writing about. So is was up to me to write about me.
It was cathartic to say the least, and I highly recommend writing about oneself with an eye toward others, who have been involved one’s life, reading what is written. It tends to force one to be brutally honest about circumstances, events and the causes and effects of events and acts.
The effect of Steps 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Alcoholic Anonymous was to force me to take that first hard look at my own biography. It was a bitter pill to swallow and one I resolved to take once and only once. I never want to go through that again. But to my original point … what was the difference in those people whose biographies I read as a child and me? I believe that most of them rose to the occasions in their lives in such a way as to inspire others to record their lives. As to whether or not they responded to guidance from God or not, I’m not certain. I do believe that the early founders did respond to what they felt was a mission from God. And, that required faith or to put it another way, “trust.”
For much of my life I have relied on the issue of faith to guide me; faith as defined by “trust.” However, I have never use the word “trust” to define faith … until recently. Last November, a friend from church handed me the latest novel by Wm. Paul Young titled, “Eve.” I confess that I wasn’t expecting much because my experience is that anything resembling a “sequel” has always been a disappointment. “Eve” was anything but a disappointment. By the time I finally placed it on the shelf next to “The Shack” I had read it at least six times. I read it repeatedly because, in addition to Young’s ability to fascinate me with his un-orthodox views of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and their relationship to us humans, I found myself totally consumed with one concept.
That concept was presented when Adonai asked Adam, and then Eve, not once but a number of times, “Do you trust Me?” That one question actually shook me to the core of my faith. I had never associated having faith in God with actually trusting God. The question was always in the context of trusting God to eventually grant Adam and then Eve, their heart’s desires within the context of their love of their Creator.
And that is the crux of what I have been struggling with in terms of my own desire to see my creation, Dear Mom and Dad, You Don’t Know Me, But … bear fruit. I’ve always believed that I’ve applied the talent God gave me to advance the mission I believe He gave me, but always with the mindset that my belief would be confirmed by the success of the book. To date that has not happened. So when I read the question posed to Adam and Eve, “Do you trust Me?” it took a few readings to realize that it was a question and not an order, “Trust Me.”
That’s a hard question to answer truthfully, but I am working on it and in the meantime I am writing and creating more of my own biography that I hope, for those affected will include “something important.”