“We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances“. ~Viktor Frankl
I discovered the writings of Victor Frankl years ago via a young librarian who enthusiastically told me of Man’s Search for Meaning. I have never even finished the book from cover to cover, yet it’s central message has made more of an impact on me than all of the sermons I have heard in the course of my life. As a serendipitous aside, there was something in the demeanor and look of that kind librarian that reminded me of a good friend (former boyfriend) that I had lost touch with years before. That former boyfriend is now my husband. That whole story is definitely one of finding meaning, but for another time.
Amy from Beautiful Upheaval says that each person will “preach” 4-5 sermons repeatedly throughout their lives. Frankl’s message of the freedom to choose our internal landscape is one I hope my kids will remember me for. I have given both of my adult sons Frankl’s book on different occasions. I taught a Freshman Studies course for a couple of years at a University in Texas years ago and Frankl’s book was always included in the syllabus in some form.
I find myself returning to Frankl these days and I suspect I am not alone in trying to make meaning from current circumstances. It is (to me) the opposite of burying one’s head in the sand. Rather it is naming the loss, the fear, the difficulty and being open to the lessons.
If you are a person who has struggled with shame in the past like I have, it may be a weighty temptation to look on our current situation as punishment. I got an email from Colleen-Joy this week that was helpful in reminding me that it is not helpful to look on painful circumstances as lessons “being taught to a naughty child,” but that wisdom was there in the midst if we are willing to learn.
I hope that I am receptive right now. I am asking God for help in meaning making and to be able to translate that to something of lasting value.
How about you? What significance are you seeing right now? If you were to ask those closest to you what your core messages were, what do you think they would say?