The Road of Purpose Traveled
By: Spencer Theodore McDonald
When my career was lost to terrorism, failure greeted me in the unemployment line. Failure stared back at me again when the economy turned south and the job market dried up. Failure was as nimble as a sentry on guard. He stood ready to defeat any hope I had in life.
Fear of failure had trapped my soul like a prisoner of war. Confusion and doubt permeated my thoughts. Every decision was laced with the smoky shadow of fear. I was terrified to even attempt the simplest of tasks. My mind had been terrorized by paralysis. Whatever road I was to choose to travel, I only saw failure lurking. Deep depression of my soul turned hope into dark despair. I had been captured and defeated by a shadow of my mind named fear.
Thieves of self-worth had robbed every ounce of my self-esteem. My will to face one more failure was too overwhelming to consider. John Milton had said it best when he wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make heaven of hell, and hell of heaven.” The defeating thoughts of my mind had become this hell.
Fear had forced me into the real thought of giving up. The movies played only screen shots of failure and pain. Believing that I was not worthy of happiness or success in life captured my troops of hope. They were bound and not allowed to fight back against fear. Minutes and hours were spent wrestling with quitting. I reasoned that succumbing to the calling of failure might be my legacy. Giving up on my hopes and dreams might become my life’s purpose.
At the very depths of depression my mind shared a grim picture with my soul. The picture was not of suicide. Suicide definitely would have been the ultimate escape from fear and failure. Fear of pain kept me from pulling the trigger of suicide. Just above the pain of suicide was the comfort of giving up on the quests of my life. I wanted to crawl away and quit. Pictures inside my head placed me at a freeway exit with matted hair, dirty clothing, holding a cardboard sign as my billboard to success. This was ultimate failure in life. Just the pain of seeing this image sends hair-raising goose bumps down my arms and spine.
This clear vision of standing at a freeway exit begging others for my existence was a shocker to my soul. Emotion welled up inside of me. I was in the middle of a full-blown nervous break down. Tears rolled uncontrollably down my warm cheeks. My body fell to the floor in despair. My breathing was labored and choppy. I wanted to crawl away and hide. This moment of complete breakdown was my defining moment.
I had a decision to make. Would I forsake my family, wife, kids, and friends? Would they forgive me if any of them found me begging at a freeway exit for the right to exist? How badly would my failure touch their lives? Answering these questions was hard. The thought of causing undo pain to their lives helped me to focus. I began to erase those images that kept playing inside my head. It was time to take a one more chance and hope that failure would not show up to greet me again. Letting down the ones I loved was not going to be my purpose. Love was starting to prevail over my fear of failure.
Since my youth I had been a fighter and not a quitter. The road of life I traveled often times became very rocky and unstable, and I persisted. When my stepfather abused my mom physically, I endured and was the strong one to lift my mom’s head back up. When my stepfather turned his hateful ways toward me with words of hate, I pushed those stinging daggers of hate away and moved forward.
Each moment of fear or failure in life gave me a brief thought of doubt. My childhood abuses, stresses, and disappointments were the building blocks of fear. Years of conditioning caused me to not feel worthy of happiness. These bad feelings followed me every day, even into my adult life and ability to cope.
These pictures of total failure were vivid. The pain of accepting this calling would have destroyed people I love. Love became my line in the sand. I was not willing to cross that line and become a homeless man standing at a freeway exit just existing. The cost to others was greater than the reward of escaping responsibility. Because I was unwilling to sink to the depth of failure I knew my life had to hold a higher purpose.
While curled up on that hard floor in a river of tears my heart ached. I needed help. I was desperate. The reality of living in a cardboard box and begging at a freeway exit for a meager existence was not my calling in life. I needed a higher power to help me. In a puddle of salty warm tears I closed my eyes tight and said my first prayer in twenty years.
Believing in something that I could not see, feel, or touch was not my style. Praying to God was hard but my last hope. Pride had hidden me away from believing in anything but my own ability. Life had finally become too hard to bear and I need help. As I blubbered and sobbed on that floor my guard went down and I called out to God. Only two words formed in my head, “Help me!” What could I ask of God? Why was I worthy of even two words? My life up to this point had been focused on disproving Gods existence. It became clear to me that I had even lied to myself. If I was praying, even two words, I must believe. My need for help brought me to this intervention with God. I had nothing to give to God. My only gift to God was my ability to get on my knees and ask God for his forgiveness and to save me from more pain and failure.
My line in the sand had been drawn and the journey upward would not come immediately. For weeks and months I sat on my couch trying to figure out my purpose for my life. I prayed about every thought and question that obsessed my time. This time spent in prayer eased my mind. Soon my depression would lift and rays of light would start to be seen off in the distance. This renewed relationship trusting God to carry me when I could not walk became my daily strength.
Months passed while I talked to God. The job offers were not flooding my mailbox and the bills were still landing in the unpaid pile. I wondered; was God listening to me? As my ship sunk lower than I thought it could, my mind was at ease. The depression and fear that lived inside of me was no longer having any effect over my thoughts. The energy of my mind was free to focus more on God’s calling for my life. Prayer had become the mechanic for my life.
My life was being transformed. Miracles had become clear to me. God sent me many wonderful gifts that helped form my purpose. Three specific gifts stand out as being the ones that molded my lump of coal into a brilliant diamond.
All of my life the garbage inside my head had stacked up. Bags of negative trash were stacked throughout the hallways of my mind. These bags of garbage filled my subconscious mind and overflowed into my conscious mind. Everywhere I stepped inside my mind I was tripping over these bags. God spoke to me and said, “Take out the trash!”
I was delivered into the hands of a caring counselor. Recovery was on my horizon and the demons inside my head were about to be released. My cure was diagnosed not with drugs but with pen and paper. First I resisted the thought of writing down my thoughts. The counselor made me pick up this pen and paper and write. My journal became my trash truck. I used it to take out the trash of my mind. Writing became my solace for recovery. God delivered me to the first step toward discovering my purpose.
The act of taking out the garbage through my writing stirred many emotions. I found myself hating people for their trespasses against me. Many of the people I trusted were the same people who betrayed me. Through my journey of writing I found words etched onto the tape that played inside my mind. The message that played on this tape had me chained to the concept of failure. Words on this recorder fed fear and allowed him to rule the landscape of my mind. Tears rolled as I discovered the dark shadows that were directing my thoughts. Every morning I put pen to paper and took out my garbage. Through this season of life my purpose had been to set the trash outside of my mind.
I felt God was at work. He had answered my prayers. At God’s hand the calling of my life was coming about. He was pressing me into a brilliant diamond. Pages of my journal captured my prayers to God. I was committing myself to a life of following. Could this be my purpose? Time would tell.
Some days were good days. Some days it was harder to cope. Still I wore out my rug in prayer. I was giving up to God. My words in my journal had healing power. More smiles graced my face than tears of my past. God gave me the second gift. This was the gift of discovery. The journal that I had been recording daily thoughts, poems, and stories in was found. My wife sat and read for hours all the ramblings of my mind. She laughed and cried at my writings. Then I heard God speak through her. She said, “What are you doing? This is what you were meant to do!” Those words made me beam with happiness.
Garbage was still stacked high inside my head. Thoughts of inspiring others through my writing touched a happy chord. The devil took notice of my shining happiness. He empowered the demons of my mind again. General Fear directed Sabotage to go out into the landscape of my mind and destroy hope, happiness, and success. The devil was not willing to give up his hold on my soul. He wanted his land of failure to reign forever. Through my prayers God delivered the weapons I needed to defeat General Fear and Commander Sabotage.
In a dream God spoke to me. He showed me that fear consisted only of smoke and mirrors. Overcoming fear was as easy as standing up to him. General Fear had no real weapons. His weapons were merely figments of my vivid imagination. God walked with me through desolate terrain of my mind. He showed me that anger, guilt, hate, rage, doubt, lack of patience, and procrastination were tools of the devil.
God presented me with two angels, courage and faith. These were the warriors who would defeat General Fear and banish the devil from my mind. The mission of courage and faith were to go out into the city of doubt and rescue talent. Courage and faith were good and faithful servants of God. Just as I drew a line in the sand against total failure I drew another line in the sands of my mind and declared war against General Fear, Commander Sabotage, and his devilish forces of self-defeat. When the morning came and I woke I was overwhelmed by the need to put talent to work. Talent put pen to paper and wrote a passionate letter declaring war against General Fear.
Dear General Fear
I am putting you on notice. Today I will not allow your self-defeating tactics to prevail any longer. You have squashed me into a small man with your advancing army of sabotage. I have been weak to resist you. For my own life and sake, today is the day I have chosen to stand and fight back against you and your vile army of sabotage.
My armies of faith and hope have been assembled and readied for battle. When you direct those forces of sabotage to beat down my hopes, dreams, and ambitions, I will allow my readied armies to counter attack you and defeat your purpose. You will no longer succeed with your battles against my hopes and dreams.
Though you are a strong foe, you are only an imagination. I have finally identified you as the magic white tiger that is only a picture in my mind. Your teeth are not real, nor can you bite into my hopes and dreams. You are a weak force that doesn’t really exist but in the dark corners of my mind and the events of my past. All of the negative people in my life have allowed you to spread like a virus and grow your army of sabotage. The reins are being hauled in and you are finished.
For all that you have done to suspend my hopes and dreams I hate you. For all that you have done to suspend my hopes and dreams I love you. You see, you have forced some of my talents to float, unsuspecting, to the surface of my conscious thoughts. Those escaping talents will be the ends of your rein of imagined terror inside my own mind.
I owe discovery of my hidden talent to my wife’s daily pursuit of my gift for writing to inspire and touch others hearts and souls. Without my wife speaking those shaking words of “What are you doing? This is what you were meant to do!” I may have missed the right road to travel toward my purpose. When my wife challenged me with those words of encouragement my true talent awoke from a long slumber. God has a way with timing. He knows just when you need his support. He knows just when you need a guiding angel. God knew just who my angel would be and had patience to have her walk with me until my talent returned from the city of doubt.
The angel of courage was fast at work inside of my mind. He reached out and touched my soul with hope. Courage took chances and ignored the devils assault against my soul. Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absences of fear.” Courage was providing me the filter I needed to focus on my talent and my purpose for my life.
A bright light of hope at the end of my life’s tunnel was beginning to burn bright. My prayers continued. I asked God to take me by the hand every day. I asked him to lead me away from my homeless image of total failure. Then God blessed me with a third gift. He sent me a mentor. This was a man who walked a similar path as I had just walked. This man had been lost in the city of doubt and was free of the evil grip that this city had over him. The first question out of my mentor’s mouth was, “What is your purpose in life?” I expected training, maybe a lecture on how to, or a detailed plan of action to overcome burdensome barriers in my life. His pointed question caught me off guard.
Over the next two weeks my mind actively searched for my calling in life. Nothing grabbed me and shook the answer free. Praying was comforting my moments of reflection. I listened for a small still voice. That voice evaded my conscious thought for the longest time. Hope than an answer would leap into my head was fading fast. Just as Jesus had been sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil, I was being sent to reflect on my purpose. The devil was doubt. As I wandered through my own desert of thought doubt approached me and offered the easy way out. The easy way out was to give up on having any purpose for my life.
Prayer kept me traveling the road I needed to travel. That devil of doubt was cast away from my conscious thought. Then one dusk lit morning just before rays of sunlight escaped the horizon I heard the spirit speak to me. He spoke through my pen and paper. It was as if some divine force was guiding my hand.
When I put my pen and paper down the pages were full. Answers had flown at me with an ease I had not experienced before. My written reflections about strengths had been captured in a crystal clear vision. Time spent setting goals and planning for riches became as smoky as General Fear. Those material riches and wants were never my real purpose. Greed had trapped my true purpose inside of deception.
Lightening had struck inside of my mind and thought. Little neurons of energy were popping to life all around my conscious thought. Joy was racing to the front of my mind. God’s purpose for my life had just been released onto those journal pages. I was to teach others, through my writing, story-telling, and speaking how to overcome fear and live a courageous life.
Realizing my true purpose for life warmed my heart and unlocked tears of joy. I could now start to be someone of concrete value to others and to our world. My time for fear was over. My time for childish wants and false gods vanished. I had laid my faith on the line and God stepped up and answered my prayers. I was carried when I needed to be carried and told to walk when I needed to walk. Faith became my guidepost.
I see now that God really does have a plan for our lives. He is all knowing. He knows exactly who we are and what we need. God gives us the challenges we need to become strong. When we are not walking in his glory he will give us a sudden and sometimes misunderstood push to bring us back to his path. God challenged me with many obstacles and disappointments. I know now that those hard moments in life were checkpoints that I needed to become the person of purpose that I am today.
Prayer is now my one a day vitamin. If I am asking God to comfort me, to hold me, to guide me, I am walking in his light. I can no longer be lost. Faith gave me the power to see the forest past the trees that blocked my view of reality. A clear view of my real life was distorted by demons of my mind. Because I asked for help from God he provided the two angels I needed to rise above accepting failure as my only option. Courage lifted my talent and faith restored my belief and trust in myself. Without these to strong allies my darkest fear of standing at that freeway exit may have just become reality.
God has empowered me with a talent. No longer will my talent remain cowed in the city of doubt. Courage was a good and faithful servant and went out amongst demons and rescued my lost talent. Faith protected courage from failure. He breathed belief into courage. These two angels will dwell in my soul forever. They will go out with talent at every experience and protect him from the forces fear and failure.
I have traveled a weary road of self-doubt. I have traveled the lonely road of failure. Every failure stung like a thousands hornets in my heart. Standing at the furnace of hell I cried out for God. He reached down with his hand of character and pressed me tight. He pushed me toward the right road. When God opened his hand a sad lump of coal had been pressed into a brilliant diamond.
Like a giant magnetic force I was always molded in character while being pulled toward my true purpose even when it seemed a million miles away. The building of character and the pull of that powerful magnet defined my purpose in life.
My purpose has been defined as helping others who may be traveling the same demon infested roads I just traveled. My stories, experiences, and trials will help comfort and guide other through the lands of deception, fear, and failure. When I have taught others how to destroy their fears I will be living the power of my purpose.
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