I wish I could write this post with enough confidence to see the road ahead ever so clearly. More than the ability to express thoughts it would be a sign that I knew exactly where I was going. My focus on a theme of purpose has made me evaluate my life and the decisions I’ve made. I see myself searching for significance and not just aimlessly wandering. But it’s hard. There is intentionality in purpose and when I look back at my journey so far I see where I’ve made some contributions: conscious moments where I placed stakes on the ground that will one day serve as mile markers on the map of my legacy. I want the same for my future. Taking each step with trust. Unafraid of the road ahead. But where am I going and how am I going to get there?
Mapping my purpose from dreams
I had a great childhood. It wasn’t perfect but that is normal. I was brought up in a very sheltered environment where protection was a form of love. That was my reality but it didn’t keep me from dreaming. Like most kids my imagination was limitless. I wanted to change the world. Dreams do that to you. Especially when you are a child. Adults don’t get it.
Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.
When you grow-up the world makes you selfish. Maybe it’s because at some point we all fall down and get bruised. We experience rejection. Our thoughts, views and ideas become filtered by the reaction of others. It was that way for me. Acceptance became more important than my dreams and so I adjusted. I adjusted to peers who bullied their views on me; and I adjusted to family who was too afraid to fly… and so I let them trim my wings. But at some point our dreams come out. Our experiences catapult our child-like thoughts back to the forefront of our minds. We remember… we had wings. In those moments we dream we can fly again.
You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.
J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan.
The world will cloud some of our views but when we see our dreams for what they are we see they run deeper than the superficial. I knew I wanted to connect with others. I knew I wanted to tell stories. I just didn’t know how it would happen. Maybe it just starts with my own story.
Seeking direction from personal experiences
If there was one thing that was clear to me growing up, it was school. Study hard, get good grades and climb the academical ladder. This path had one simple direction: all the way to college. And while questions about the future did come up, for the most part, life was straight forward. But I can recall moments that shaped me to who I am today. These were moments that had a clear impact on my view of the world. They also made the journey more clear.
My first moment was as a 5 year-old who stuck at home embraced the beautiful storylines of American television as his own. And by beautiful storylines I mean the lives of Bayside High in the hit show Saved by the Bell. Yes that was the show that introduced me to the English language and American culture. I learned a new language by watching TV and somehow I knew I would use this new skill someway, somehow.
My second moment came shortly after joining middle-school and establishing confidence in my bilingual skills. They were proven successful by teachers but not so popular on the playground. In the classroom I was seen as blessed while outside it felt more like a curse. My first experience with bullying came from people who actually felt more secure in belittling someone because of their ability to do something they couldn’t. I didn’t know then but I know now that all of us experience brokenness and instead of hiding from it, freedom actually comes from embracing it.
My most shape defining moment was as a teenager when I happened to meet this group of Americans who started playing soccer every Saturday morning at our local futebol field. I remember candidly how I went to play with some friends but they happened to meet somewhere else. Instead this other group was there. Some old and some young but all friendly. They welcomed me and invited me to play. In that place my previous moments collided. Here I was in my hometown speaking English; embraced and accepted like never before. It all made sense in that moment.
There was a reason why I experienced what I did in my youth. This group of people were real and accepted me as I was. Most importantly they introduced me to a Savior who put me back together again. A Savior who helped me stand up when I needed too. A Savior who opened my heart to real love.
Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.
Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
I don’t know where I would have been if it wasn’t for the love I experience with Jesus and His family. I finally found true meaning for purpose and these experiences provided direction for my life.
Walking by faith and not by sight… with courage… and love
My last year of college brought a mixture of confidence and uneasy. In the months leading up to my final exams I recall seeing the future as a foggy path. Even as a positive person with strong faith there was so much uncertainty now. College had been my first answered prayer and it fit my childhood plan. Until then life had been clear but now… I didn’t know what was next. In times like these faith is truly believing in the unseen. Faith requires courage. It also helps to have someone provide perspective along the way. I found that with my best friend and made her my wife.
If there was a moment that made me stronger it was getting married in college. I stood against culture and family when I took Courtney as my bride. If faith requires courage, love makes you courageous. I needed both in my role as a leader for my family. And whether it was a matter of where I was going to work or where we were going to live, the questions stopped fazing me because my faith was proved with blessings. That memory is a good reminder now.
For we walk by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
It’s amazing to think that 12 years have passed since my college days. So much has changed since my youth. Our family has grown, we have changed countries and my career has evolved. But somehow the future still seems foggy at times. I know my purpose as a husband and a father. But I also know there is more. Something bigger. I believe the formula to finding our meaning lies within our Dreams, Experiences, Faith, Courage and Love.
I don’t have all the answers or know all that I will find along the way, but my journey continues…