The word purpose is being tossed about a lot these days. People are asking: what is my purpose in life? What do I need to be doing? And more specifically what should I be engaged in that this particular stage in life? I have actually been asking myself such questions recently.
I am a part of the “Barely Boomer” generation. I was born in 1962. The official cut-off for the Baby Boomer Generation is generally viewed as being 1964. We were teenagers right in the middle of the short lived disco era. But today younger boomers are a part of what I would call the “Sandwich Generation.” Many of us either have children still at home or we have kids in college. There are few of us have grown kids that have returned home! Each of those scenarios brings its own set of joys and challenges.
Members of this Sandwich Generation are commonly facing the realities of serving aging parents. Those parents more often than not are dealing with serious illness, so we find ourselves sandwiched between two very distinct needs. Our responsibilities toward our family become more complex and stressful overnight. In some cases, parents live hours away or perhaps in another state.
I will not have to face such challenges. My parents have been deceased for a long time now. On March 13th, my father will have been gone 33 years. This October will be the 20 year marker for the loss of my mother. I can focus exclusively on my sweet wife and children. I can excuse myself from official membership “Sandwich Generation.” How nice… Too bad it is not true…
My unique situation among my friends partially defines a new sense of purpose and calling for this stage in life. My purpose is to serve my friends that are caring for their parents. I know what it is like to commute back to the hometown to be present for surgeries. I communicated with doctors on behalf of my mother. (It is a good thing she did not know that. She would have flipped!) I dealt extensively with impersonal insurance companies on her behalf. I provided comic relief for the family when the stress of it all was about to overtake us. And I joined my sisters in making difficult decisions about our mother’s care.
I am not bitter about my circumstances. I should say: not anymore…. I am actually thankful to be at a place in life where I can provide something to my friends that is needed. I count it a blessing to come and stand beside them as they face the hurdles associated with being a part of the “Sandwich Generation”. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an opportunity to fulfill my God given purpose.
What is your purpose at this stage in your life? Ponder this idea today: you may find a renewed sense of purpose buried under past experiences that you would rather not think about. The difficult things you have experienced in life may very well be what define part of your contribution to the lives of others.