The Courage to Live a Life True to Myself

The Courage to Live a Life True to Myself

 Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

    Howard Thurman

We’d like to share with you a wonderful article that was shared with us this week, by my (Tom’s) younger brother Jon Kaden.   It gets to the heart of the matter when it comes to living life fully and abundantly.   We will be doing a series of five posts based on this article.   We hope that you’ll be inspired by its wisdom and what it teaches us about what really matters in life.  Each day we’ll highlight one of the five regrets from the article.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

Today we had lunch with a 26-year old friend who, with a friend of his who is 22, founded a new office sharing, co-working business – Start-up Harrisburg – in downtown Harrisburg, PA.  It is the first businees of its kind in the city.   As we listened to our friend share his vision we could visably see and sense his excitement and enthusiasm for this initiative.  He was positively bursting with joy at what he and his partner are doing.   We are very proud of him for stepping out to follow his dream and for being the person he feels he is meant to be. 

We’d also like to give a shout out to our friend Matt Tuckey who has started a mentoring program in Carlisle, PA – The Mentoring Project.  The Mentoring Project  seeks to respond to the American crisis of fatherlessness by inspiring and equipping faith communities to mentor fatherless youth.   Matt is following his heart and passion for young people who are particularly vulnerable and at-risk. 

Another friend – Kelly Chripczuk – started an online blog called A Field of WildFlowers.  Kelly is a phenomenal storyteller who writes about deeply spiritual matters, connecting her faith to the everyday.   She shares stories of grace and love and parenting and aspects of our common humanity.  Her risk has now led to hundreds and hundreds of readers who are finding hope, encouragement and inspiration from her writing. 

Last week, we met with Alexa Moody, 22, who when she was 18 founded her own non-profit – Please Live – a teenage sucide prevention program.  Alexa knows very clearly what she needs to do and she has courageously followed her calling to help young people who are also at-risk to find hope, help and healing in their lives.

These, and so many others, are the people with whom we have connected and linked arms this past year.  They are people who are making a difference in their communities because they are living out of their own sense of call and who they are.  Their dreams are not something just merely to dream about, but have become realities because they have not been afraid to pursue them.  These friends, and all the others like them, give us hope and inspiration to continue to pursue our dreams and follow our mutual calling.   They will not live with regret, the regret of not taking a risk to be the people they are meant to be.

We believe one of the most important aspects of the journeyof life is discovering who we really are.   All of the struggles and challenges that any of us face, if viewed through a prism of  potential growth and a means to a better end —  the end being knowing ourselves more deeply and following what we know — can be a place of incredible contentment, goodness, fulfillment and joy.  

Several years ago another friend came to me (Michael) and said that he needed to thank me.  I wondered why.  He then went on to tell me that my example of what he saw of me following my dreams had given him the courage to leave his place of employment in a hospital to start his own business in pediatric opthamology.   His initiative took courage and it was not undertaken without some fear and trepidation.  But he stepped out anyway and has a very successful paractice today.  He, too, will not live with regrets. 

How many of the rest of us can say the same?

None of these stories which we have highlighted are about people who are living lives that others have necessarily expected them to live.   But they have chosen to be true to themselves.   The same is true for both of us.  As masters graduates from seminaries most people expect that our careers should be spent serving as pastors in churches.  We both have done that and have had much affirmation for the work and service that we have shared.  But both of us have also long known that we are called specifically to the mission of counseling, listening, encouraging, comfort, compassion and bringing spiritual guidance to those searching for meaning and hope.   And we don’t regret pursuing it, either.

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