All across America men have forgotten who they are and have lost their purpose in life. They were once men made of iron, but the metal has collapsed under the weight of fear and loss.
I was working in my office when a Marine came in and sat in a chair across from me. He was built like the action figure Iron Man only he wore no suit of armor. His muscles bulged under his shirt and his 6’5” stature was imposing. His looked into my eyes and I saw they were filled with fear. He cautiously spoke about his world collapsing around him where nightmares stole his sleep, and his days were consumed by anger. He was a man who had been to Afghanistan and Iraq several times and had seen things too horrific to share. The weight of those memories were tearing him apart, but it was the fear of losing himself as he approached the end of his 20 years in service that brought him to his knees. He was terrified of the uncertainty of his future and the possibility of his not being able to care for his wife and six children.
Another gentleman came to me for help with his relationship which had begun to crumble following his girlfriend's discovery of his having an affair with a woman he cared nothing about. He shared that he had met his current girlfriend while married to his ex-wife who left him and took the kids when she learned he was having an affair. He lost his wife, his children, and his home. He lost his career and was living with his girlfriend one-step away from being homeless.
Yet another man collapsed to the floor as he broke down and shared his pain about the recent death of his father and the loss of his wife and child to a recent divorce. The grief was heavy on him and I listened while my heart ached for his situation. Over the next few months, I offered compassion and care, but the fear in his eyes as he stumbled over challenge after challenge was hard to watch.
Stories like these are common occurrences today. What do these men have in common? They are all suffering from loss, fear, and personal identity. All three of these men were once strong, confident, and service oriented willing to die for the life of another. They knew without a doubt who they were and had a purpose bigger than themselves and they took pride in their work. Then something changed and they lost their way. They lost their confidence, passion, and purpose.
The collapsing of a soul is never easy to watch, and I’ve had to watch too many souls fade under the weight of fear. I've also seen these men rediscover who they are and find a new life's purpose. When you know who you are, have confidence in yourself, and are moving toward fulfilling your purpose, you will be living your life and not just surviving it.