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Finding self-meaning in life goes beyond identifying simple pleasures and seeking purpose through theological exploration

As a child, I read. Reading took me on adventures. Reading was someone talking to me personally. A friend. In the newspaper, I'd read the comics and the advice columnists.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Suzanne YbarraI still read the advice columnists. I have never felt like writing them — until now. Last week, I read a letter from a woman who sounded at wit's end and the columnist's response missed the mark. I was writing my own response before I put down the newspaper.

The one asking for advice said she liked the idea of hanging on to one's personal purpose when life is overwhelming, but she had nothing to hang on to. She was not enthused about her job; was not a parent, spouse, or best friend to anyone; nor did she have any meaningful hobby or volunteer job. She asked, "Why the hell am I even here?" She signed off by disclosing she is in therapy and on meds and put her last question, "How?"

The columnist encouraged her to think back to what tiny treasures her life has held and revisit those as often as she can. For example, where does she like to shop? What is her favorite meal? What was she doing the last time she forgot what time it was? These are helpful questions, I admit, but do they match the level of angst the writer was confessing?

I don't know if she'll print what I emailed her, but I sent the following to the columnist:

Dear (name of columnist),

I would like to respond to the letter about finding purpose in life. Therapy and meds have their place in helping people, but psychology can't tell me the purpose of my life.

It is theology which answers the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How do I get through the hard times?

Theologian and author, Bill Johnson, says we start with finding out who we are and what our purpose is. After that, we can mature into having a fulfilling life. He wrote a book rich with practical wisdom, When Heaven Invades Earth.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, offers hope for the question, "What on earth am I here for?" We are not accidents. There is a reason for everything. There is a place we belong. His book is easy to read and includes discussion questions to stimulate thought.

I offer these suggestions with the hope that those who are looking for answers, will find the beauty and treasures of life.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

If the person who wrote for advice sees this, then I say, "Hallelujah". If you need encouragement, I hope you got some here today.

Suzanne Ybarra can be reached at:

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