I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of “Wrecked” by Jeff Goins. It took me far too long to get around to reading it, but I’m glad that I did. At its heart, “Wrecked” is a book about being broken in order to grow as an individual and a member of society. Being “wrecked” in the sense that this book is talking about means seeing the sadness and pain within others and allowing it to touch us, to move us, and eventually to change us. Although most of the stories were about missions, one does not need to travel somewhere exotic and poor to witness and work against pain. Indeed, one can help people that live right next door.
People who allow their hearts to be broken for the brokenness in the world have something that most of us don’t. Compassion. Selflessness. Freedom.
As humans, we have conflicting goals. We want our lives to mean something, to leave a legacy and make others proud of us. But we also want to “have it all”, to live a comfortable life and feel safe. Unfortunately, these two concepts are sometimes mutually exclusive. This is why we get “wrecked”. Sometimes something (subconscious goals, God, fate, or what-have-you) drags us out of our happy life and shows us how painful life really can be. The goodness comes when we realize that helping others can help us too, and the change can make us stronger.
If you’ve ever traveled to another country, especially in the developing world, you may have noticed that you don’t see many moody teenagers. Young adults in the rest of the world aren’t like they are in America. Other cultures make a clear delineation between childhood and adulthood; there are rites of passages and initiation ceremonies to mark these transitions. People expect and are willing to expose young people to hardship and pain, because it helps them grow.
In the Western world where I live, there are few of these rites of passage. There are ceremonies, yes, but (at least in my experience) none of them involve true pain. We are so busy pushing our young through more and more levels of education that we forget to let them live. And then, strangely, we are surprised when they go into the workforce and find that it’s not as easy as they expected. Mentorship programs are rare, and even when a young adult is lucky enough to find a mentor, who has the time to spend helping another learn? I think that this is exactly what the end goal of being “wrecked” is all about: if you are not able to directly work to end suffering, you can empower others to do so.
Bodybuilders know that, in order to build muscle, we must first break the tissue down. This is painful and often is where we want to quit. Because it hurts! But the torn muscle tissue regenerates to be stronger. The same can be said for life: we can’t grow without pain. Some of the biggest changes in life (teething, adolescence, breaking a bone, or giving birth) are accompanied by substantial pain. Finding your life’s purpose can be just as difficult, and may require sacrifice, discomfort, or even danger.
Jeff told a story about his first settled job, where he quickly took on more and more responsibilities that he felt he wasn’t qualified for. He thought that he wasn’t good enough, in spite of the faith his boss had in him. Without giving away any details, I will say that I have felt like this too. I too have wondered why so many people believed in me, when I clearly lack the skills that I need. But, with so many things, that situation has passed. I have yet to discover if the pain has made me stronger yet, but I know that it has left me with a renewed sense of purpose. Maybe that was what I needed to learn from this recent experience.
If you feel you’ve been given more than you can possibly handle, take heart. This is the point where you learn to grow into who you’re meant to be. It’s when you’re in over your head that you start taking your work seriously, when you finally grow.