For the past two weeks I’ve been reading Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and I can see why it is a best seller, but this is not a book review, rather it is as the title suggests an attempt to define what it is that drives some people to live their lives a particular way and make the choices in life that they do. Rick Warren discusses this in depth in his book, he says, “Everyone’s life is driven by something…Right now you may be driven by a problem, a pressure, or a deadline. You may be driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief. There are hundreds of circumstances, values and emotions that can drive your life.”
As Rick points out the five most common emotions that drive people are Guilt, Resentment, Fear, Materialism and Approval. Wow, don’t we all know people who are driven to do something with their life or allow one of these emotions control every aspect of their lives. The guilt driven spend their entire lives running from regrets and hiding their shame, they are manipulated by their memories and allow their past to control their future. The resentment driven hold onto their hurts and never get over them, instead of releasing their pain they rehearse it over and over again. Those driven by fear often miss great opportunities; because they are afraid to venture out, they play it safe avoiding risks and spend all their time trying to maintain the status quo. The desire to acquire is what drives the materialistic; they believe that “more” will make them more happy, more important and more secure. And finally many people are driven by the need for approval so they follow the crowd and get lost in it; they allow the opinions of others to guide all that they do in life.
(More in the extended section)
When I was reading this chapter in Rick’s book I couldn’t help but wonder, “What drove men like Mike Stokely, Captain Danjel Bout, Russ Currie, Captain B and the thousands of other men and women who volunteer to go into harms way to serve their country? Why did they feel the pull and not everyone in this country?” And then I realized it…they had not let these emotions control their life, the realized that they were and are here on this earth for a reason and that reason for them lie in the path of the uniform. If you ever speak to Robert Stokely, Mike’s father, or read the short biography of Mike you’ll learn that Mike was always thinking about someone else, never himself. I firmly believe that he did things so that others who couldn’t do them would not have to do them; he did them because he saw it as his purpose in life to serve that way. Sgt Stokely found his purpose in his life and he let it guide him he didn’t fight against it or rebel or only accept it 95% of the time some days, he lived it through and through day after day. In knowing his purpose in life he knew that his life had meaning, and that meaning simplified his life. He no longer needed to do things that were not inline with his purpose he was freed of the burden of deciding what he had to do, he knew what to do, if it didn’t serve his purpose in life he didn’t do it. Let’s contrast this with the life that is being lived by someone that is the antitheses of Mike: Cindy Sheehan.
Now I must admit, I have no idea what is truly going on in Cindy’s head but I can make some assumptions based upon what she says and does and I think I can make a pretty good guess at what emotions are driving her to do what it is she is doing. I would suggest that Cindy is being driven by Guilt and Approval; she has admitted that even before Casey was killed she was against the war and this belief is assaulting her more and more now that her son died in Iraq serving his purpose. This conflict is creating a sense of guilt in her mind that drove her to confront the President at his ranch and this is where the need for approval took over, for as anyone can attest, Cindy has become a media whore, constantly seeking the spotlight and approval for her beliefs.
She is now so intent upon receiving the approval of those that flocked to her first emotional time that she has done everything from announce that she would run against Senator Diane Feinstein, to take her anti-American/anti-Bush trip on the road and now overseas. She is like a dingy on the open ocean going where the current takes her from one extravaganza to another, in and out of jail just as the dingy rides the waves up and down. Is this having a single purpose in your live or as Rick Warren would put it, A Purpose Driven Life? For sure she has a purpose, or she did at one time, but now she is serving more than two masters and neither of those masters will be here for all eternity.
This is I think the underlying difference between having a purpose driven life that has meaning and having one driven by emotion, the sense of an eternity. Every military blogger (milblogger) has mentioned a belief in an afterlife, a belief in God a belief that their life will lead them to an afterlife with God. Is it possible to achieve a life of eternity with God when your soul purpose in life is to hate someone else and all they do? Of course not, we must lead a life where we are living for someone else, and serving only one master.
Mike Stokely realized this, and he realized this early on in his life. Mike wrote in his bible, “God, thank you for my family and friends. Without their continual support I would easily get discouraged. Thank you for the soldiers I work with. They are my brothers and I trust them with my life. Thanks most all for your unwavering love and faithfulness. Even when I mess up you never turn your back on me.” Mike Stokely a short life here on this earth, but his purpose driven life has prepared him for an eternity with God. What drives your life is it a life of the path of the uniform a member of the fellowship of the Infantry or is it something else entirely? Most importantly, is it preparing you for all eternity or are you only here for the short term? Will you allow emotions to rule your life or will you follow Mike’s example and adopt a purpose driven life?