I'm running on a trail around a lake. It's pouring rain. My running shoes are soaked through and my socks are soggy. The water has penetrated my rain jacket. Underneath my rain pants, the ACE bandage I used to wrap my right knee has readjusted itself below my knee - not fully functional anymore. Despite my best attempts to rest my knee the past several weeks, I couldn't take it today - I needed to get out on the trail. I needed to feel my heart beating rapidly and my lungs thirsting for air. The storm was a perfect addition. I wanted to feel the elements. To let the water coarse over my body and the wind chill my skin.
Midway around the lake, my left foot hits uneven surface - my left ankle bends. It hurts, but I'm used to this happening occasionally. I cry out and stop for thirty seconds to shake it off. And keep moving.
The despair I've been feeling inside is working its way through my body. Some of it is coming out in my movement. Some of it is coming out in tears as I splash my way down the trail. Some of it in anger - I stop and pick up a rotting branch, smashing it against the trunk of a Bay Tree.
My left ankle bends again. This time the pain is sharper. Something within my right knee is pulsing. I cry out and stop once again. This time, a thought: "I should not be running - if I do, I will only create more long-term injury for myself."
And the world reflecting to me the healing I need: "I must stop and face the fact that I am broken." "I cannot run away from, or through, this pain. I cannot wrap it up and keep going. I need to come to terms with the fact that I am broken."
There has been much in life lately that has made me question the value each one of us holds. I have been around people with multiple PhDs, people who have held esteemed positions within organizations, people who have a certain look or charisma; I have watched how others give those folks their full attention, seemingly respecting all that they have to say, ignoring the others in the room - others with a lot of experience and a lot to say, but that don't have the 'value markers'. Essentially, there is value being place on the things we've done, or are doing.
Living within this world can be demoralizing. It puts pressure on us to create value for ourselves by doing something, achieving something. But there will always be people that are doing, have done more, so it's a loser's game.
I realize that in my explorations of purpose, I as well have focused too much on the doing: When it comes to purpose, the essential piece for me has been where who we are meets the world's needs, and that's always manifested in some work that we can do for the world. Yet I can see how subconsciously this has driven me to find meaning (to find value) through work, instead of just having meaning simply by being. This changes everything. And I'm left with the question:
How does my personal, inherent value, granted to me out of the most basic qualification of existing, figure into my quest for purpose?
And of my brokenness. How can I let that lead the way? How can I let my lack of mastery, the awareness that I'll never know it all, the doubt that this creates in me to offer something to the world..., how can I let that be the place where I live and lead from? How can exposing my lack of confidence be the source of my confidence? How can I let my brokenness lead the way?