I am reading Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I am fascinated with his voice and the way that he invites his readers into the hearts and minds of concentration camp prisoners. It serves as a good kick in the pants to my incessant whining about the amazingly easy life that I lead.
He reflects, “We all had once been or had fancied ourselves to be ‘somebody.’ Now we were treated like complete nonentities. (The consciousness of one’s inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life. But how many free men, let alone prisoners possess it?)”
I have found myself in the middle of job without a teaching position for the fall (a long story for another post). I have always fancied myself to be “somebody” as a teacher. I knew I was making a difference in at least one of my student’s life and that gave me enough confidence to continue from day to day.
What I’m realizing is I bought into the lie that the meaning of life was to find a teaching position where I would be safe and comfortable and that was. . .well. . . easy. I had bought into the cultural expectation that if you were in tune with God, you found your calling (after a 2-3 years of searching) and then stayed put.
Then how did Frankl find “gain an inward peace that I had never experience before” in the middle of “the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp, which surrounded us?”
Finding your call or the meaning to life isn’t about staying put, it’s about staying tuned in to the opportunities and experiences that interrupt your life and cause you to detour. The more we convince ourselves to find that one job or that one house were we can stay put, the more likely we are to miss the true meaning of life.
For me, it meant resigning my teaching position and applying to Gardner-Webb Divinity School. I can’t see the road ahead, but I know I am on my way to finding the meaning of life. Feel free to tag along!