Tag Archives: purpose

Picking a Fight for 2017

We all end up dead, it’s just a matter of how and why.” -William Wallace, Braveheart

One of my favorite scenes out of Braveheart is what comes just after the legendary battlefield speech of William Wallace to his fellow Scotsmen at Sterling. The speech is over, the troops are fired up, now what?  The dialogue goes like this:

Stephen: Fine speech. Now what do we do?

William Wallace: Just be yourselves.

Hamish: Where are you going?

William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.

Hamish: Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.

What do you want to pick a fight with in 2017?

Resolutions are for the comfortable, I’m interested in the kinds of decisions that lead to uncomfortable change.  Change, deep down, fire-breathed transformation.  Where is the fire in your belly?  What keeps you up at night?  What injustice can you not live with?  What habit is in the way of you absolutely slaying your job?  What negative mindset is robbing you of your creativity?  What slave master says it owns your freedom?  What is in the way of you living out a dream?

Everybody dreams, the difference is some people actually experience them.  The separation is usually a matter of discipline from the dream stage to the experience stage.  It’s largely an issue of will, discipline, effort, heart, stubbornness, resilience, resources and perseverance.  If you pick a fight, you are likely to get punched in the mouth, that’s a given.  The issue is when you hit the mat, do you resolve to get up?  Outlasting your opponent is where the marrow of the victory comes from, you bid your time, and when the opportunity presents itself, return your blow and land it on your enemy’s jaw.  It’s yours for the taking, opportunity knocks.

I’m entering 2017 not with a resolution, but with a primal scream to take another step of what I was put on this earth to do.  I am challenged, I am stretched, I am vulnerable . . . the bullies are on the battleground in front of me.  They hurl their insults, they predict my failure, they intimidate with accusations of lies.  They are the voices I oppose.  The primal scream is louder than those voices, it’s what I’m listening to.  I don’t want to take a step forward, I want to dismantle the entire system of resistance in front of me.  The life of the Creator lives in me, his breath breathes in me.  Therefore, I have no fear . . . none.  I’m here to pick a fight.

What are you picking a fight with in 2017?  How can I help you?

Nothing wrong with a safe life, it’s just Boring

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The Nordic Vikings of old had a term we Anglo-Saxons translate as “Berserk”.  ‘Bersekr’ literally means ‘bear shirt’ or one who would run into battle in a crazed confidence wearing only the animal skin as armor.  Not a safe life, but a confident one.

I’m not advocating a Viking lifestyle, generally we have evolved in our domestic and international diplomatic relations past shield walls and pillaging.  The old world of desperation and scarce resources has been replaced with modern comforts and a surplus of goods.  But I do want to speak against narratives of safety, security, small thinking and small living.  We don’t have to settle for the safe, we can step onto the field with a fierce confidence and stare an enemy in the face. Life doesn’t have to be boring, we can choose to go Bersekr’ .

We can choose the safe life that’s largely all about us and our comforts and security, that’s the mythology of the American Dream. The more as a culture we pursue this dream, the more our use of anti-depressants is rising; correlation?   Is it possible we just have all the wrong dreams?  What we thought would make us happy, content, purposeful, fulfilled are not the things we are pursuing at all?  Something deep inside us wants to armor-up and go ‘Bersekr’ but we are choosing the fool’s gold of the American dream.  There is nothing wrong with a safe life, it’s just boring.  😉

10 years ago this past March, I lost one of my best friends to colon cancer at the age of 32. I visited his grave this week and it got me thinking.  His name was Mark Palmer and he was as much my friend as he was a co-mentor in my life.  We filled that role for one another.  I walked with him as he grieved the loss of his 26 yr. old wife to stomach cancer.  I walked with him as he suffered through his own battle against cancer.  What I observed in my friend was a heart of courage that would never give up on his fierce commitment to hope for himself and the community he loved so much.  He gave up the pursuit of the American Dream of comfort in order to live in solidarity with the poverty and suffering of his neighbors.  He made it his life and calling to mentor young hearts who were filled with angst, passion, talent and pain and dreamed for a better world.   He lived his life on purpose.  He got 32 years to ‘Bersekr’ in his own giftedness and then he gracefully passed over the veil to the reality of another Kingdom in fullness.

Friends, we get one life.  ONE!  We will be buried not with any of our creature comforts and not with one of our retirement benefits, not with any piece of security.  All that the American Dream offers us, we get buried with none of it.  It’s a fool’s gold, a chasing after the wrong dreams.  We live in a broken world crying out for hope, leadership, courage, peace, goodness and the identity shaping of fierce community.  You can live a safe life, it’s just boring.  You can choose to go ‘Bersekr’ and make a difference with your one wild and precious life like no one else with your skill-set can.  Oh the stories people will tell at your funeral, it won’t be about your stuff, it will be about your amazing life and battles won for the good of all.  We get one life, choose wisely, all of life depends on it.

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“I guess what I really want to say is this: be hopeful. Don’t stop fighting. On some level this thing is bigger than all of us. It’s not about having a wife die of cancer at 26, and then 2 years later getting the same terminal illness. It’s not about me and how I fight this disease or how our little family walks through it. The bigger picture is the battle against sickness and death that we all face because we live in a broken world. But it’s even more about the Kingdom that has broken in and offers us a chance at relief from that disease. It offers health and victory where before there was none. There is hope in the midst of hopelessness. Death is not where we lose; the onset of hopelessness is the great defeater. So allow hope to rise up within you. And when it seems that hopefulness is the least appropriate response in this situation, let it rise up even more. Whisper your hope when you lie down at night; scream your hope when you wake in the morning. Live your hope as if it is the one and only thing that sustains you in this ravaged world. You will not be disappointed.

-Mark Palmer, last blog post before he passed 3/25/06

Are you not entertained?

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“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”  – Maximus in Gladiator

 Fans think twice about hero worship?  I’ll believe it when I see it.  Hero worship for our sportsmen and now women as well is thousands of years old.  We love our spectacle, we love our circus shows.  We want our neighboring mammals from the ocean to spend their lifetime in a bathtub leaving their context to amuse us for a price.  We love to be entertained and our appetites seemingly have no limits.  We shutter at an orca whale who turned on its trainer, but I myself have paid more than a few times to see it perform in the past and now it seems shameful.  Tiger Woods was the can’t miss marketing icon, clean and perfect like the Gillette shaver he promoted, until he wasn’t.  I am in no way pointing a finger at Tiger, the man is human and clearly had a lifestyle he now deeply regrets and the consequences are heavy.  My issue is the pedastal to begin with.  Perhaps Tiger believed his own hype, my beef is with the hype itself. None of this is new.  The Roman gladiator shows with animals also mauling their trainers.  They were mostly slaves, hoping to win their freedom, and if not, at least to taste some glory.  They were idolized as Rock Stars, sex objects and archaeologists have even found children’s dolls/playtoys in the shape/form of their favorite gladiator.  Babylon, Persia, Egypt and as far back as the Sumerians as we can tell, had some form of sport (usually violent) and hero worship.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sports, always have.  I love competition and respect and have a sense of awe about the talent of others.  But they are human beings and that’s all I’m looking for. What is it in us that wants to idolize?  Are there deep insecurities?  Is fantasy and escape more normative for us than reality?  Why are we so thirsty for amusement?  Why are we so bored with our own selves?  It seems to me to be an issue of meaning.  If we have no real meaning ourselves, if we are not living out our own grand story, then we are looking to latch onto someone else’s.  If we can’t live our own dream, we try and ride the glamorous coat-tails of someone else who seemingly is living theirs.  (although in the end we find it is often no dream for them either)  We live in a culture full of hype, hyperbole and consumer driven marketing.  You HAVE to see this, recognize it and get some appropriate distance from it or those seeking your $$ on TV will be the ones to dictate to you what your story is.  What you should feel, what you should care about, how you should vote, what you should buy, how you should live . . . etc.  Why do we let someone else, who does not have our interest in mind dictate our story?  This is why I ceased watching the news years ago, tired of them dictating to me what to care about with hype and hyperpole for ratings.  (that’s a rant for another day).Here’s the thing, you have all the power and resources within you to be a hero or heroine.  Let me say that again, YOU do, not someone else.  You can parent in such a way to leave a legacy of love and blessing.  You can neighbor in such a way that spurs a culture of generosity.  You can work in such a way that brings to life more than just your company’s mission statement.  You can teach in such a way that inspires introspective learning for life.  You can friend in such a way that you literally become someone else’s answered prayer.  You can spouse in such a way that the experience of Oneness breeds a daily deep affirmation of who you truly are and who you belong to.  You can have a life with meaning and purpose that everything you touch, say, do, feel, think, express and attempt is heroic.  Not someone else, you.  You just need to decided to do so, and decide that everyday.  Then it will be your story that is told for years to come.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity. ”  – Maximus in Gladiator 

That could be your life.  Don’t seek entertainment, seek personal meaning.peace,marshall