I love stories and especially mythology. Myths may be seen as a compilation of well-chosen, but contrived characters, weaved into a story to tell of a foundational and even an eternal truth. The phrase “mythic reality” sounds at first like a contradiction of terms – “mythic” meaning by popular belief “not true” and “reality” meaning “true or real”. A myth, broadly speaking, however, is simply a story that points to truth and awakens your inner being to a sense of that truth.
John Eldredge, in his book “Waking the Dead”, points out three commonalities true of all great stories and myths:
- Things are not what they seem – there’s a whole lot going on here than meets the eye
- A battle is under way – there is a great struggle out there and life, itself, may be hanging in the balance
- We have a crucial role to play – even though our life may be seemingly mundane and we may feel like a “nobody”, we have an extraordinary responsibility to play our part well
The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, The Matrix, Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings all have these three elements. Now, although I am fully aware that John Eldredge was using the above commonalities of myths for a more spiritual purpose and application, it struck me nonetheless that the human being seems to be designed to accomplish something, to be part of the realisation of something bigger than oneself, to fulfil some purpose – not to be an “oxygen-thief” and take up space and breath in valuable air and then die.
We have our respective roles to play, even though all is not what it seems (there are hidden motives, political games and covert strategies all around us) and a battle is under way (life is always going to throw curved balls at you, there will be twists and turns during the journey and obstacles in our paths). We have to discover these respective roles – the temptation, when our journey gets tough and obstacles seem insurmountable, is to lose hope and over time be worn down to settle for a numbing mediocrity. Here we regard this “lack of greatness” as normal and we become a “passenger” rather than make a solid difference within our spheres of influence.
To understand one’s role, or unique contribution, is to go back to one’s inner sense of purpose – the passion that lies within. Some have called it one’s personal mission, or reason for existence, but it is really a burning awareness of who you are and your unique giftedness that will be used in the fulfilment of your purpose. This would include understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your spiritual and emotional passions, your values, your abilities and skills, but chiefly would include understanding who you want to become as a person and the unique offering you want that “person” to make. Many don’t have this awareness and travel the journey aimlessly, just “processing” life.
Restoring your inner sense of purpose is critical for grasping your unique role contribution and subsequently the establishment of meaningful personal and professional goals to meet the requirements of fulfilling that role. Having an established inner sense of purpose gives one focus – now energy can be applied appropriately. We have an extraordinary responsibility to live out our respective roles well – for everyone’s benefit, not just our own.