Obtaining Life Purpose
One of the primary reasons that I chose a new career in healthcare is the facilitation of my new journey. I believe Christians are woefully inept in the art of living by design. Historically, Protestant orthodoxy has always been predicated on making present life all about obtaining eternal life, and of course, through the institutional church. In fact, Catholics and Protestants alike are fond of posing themselves as lowly misfits striving to achieve God’s future utopia. The Protestant version of this is, “We are all just sinners saved by grace” with the present tense being disingenuous at best. In the face of the most horrific atrocities committed by churchians, we will usually hear the refrain, “No church is perfect.” But of course not; character is not the issue, getting into heaven through obedience to the church is the issue.
I believe salvation is actually secondary to abundant life in the here and now. To make a point on this wise, allow me to say God is looking for disciples, not saved people. Christ initiated His ministry by preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and we find out the particulars of that message via The Sermon on the Mount in Mathew chapters 5-7. Salvation is not there. The cross is not there; the sermon is on sanctification, viz, Christian living.
Long before I chose this new career in long-term health care, I worked in nursing homes as a fire safety inspector. Though it seemed nursing homes and long-term care in general are where we make people as comfortable as possible while waiting for them to die, such a mentality disturbed me greatly. I believed then, and I must believe now, that every life has a purpose in its totality. I also believe that long-term care individuals must understand life purpose as part of their quality of care and best possible wellbeing. It is God’s will that every individual understands their value and purpose.
Thank God I was chewed up and spit out by the Church that I devoted most of my life to. As a result, one of the most important things I have learned is that God’s creation and our state of being have common principles shared by the lost and saved alike. In other words, I have come to believe that God wants me to learn things from those who don’t share my acknowledgement of God. All things secular are not useless in the art of living. That idea is not only stupid, but makes us little more than well-behaved terrorists.
So, yes, and to those who will now be convinced that I have surely sunk into the lower depths of hell, I believe that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indeed has merit. I believe that life purpose is critical to those in long-term care. They must know that their present life has purpose, and this purpose is complex and many-faceted regardless of their circumstances. As caregivers, we are not only their advocates for dignity because of sympathy, empathy and the basic value of life; their dignity must be protected because their life has purpose.
I will conclude with one aspect of this many-faceted-complexity to be considered: oneness. In Maslow’s hierarchy, we have the need for love and relationship, but that is not only a need, it is a reality. In relationships, people become part of each other. Self-wellbeing is determined by the wellbeing of those we care for and love at various levels and intensities. We are all well to greater and lesser degrees when those we care for are well to greater and lesser degrees. As caregivers, we are not only serving the one individual, we are serving all those who are one with that person. This isn’t rocket science or some kind of deep psychology; we all know that when those close to us die, we lose a part of ourselves that we will live without in this life. Furthermore, long-term care recipients should know that when they are doing their best in the circumstance; i.e., obtaining their purpose, those who love them are edified in many ways.
That’s one element of purpose; oneness, and perhaps the most important one.