“Don’t outsource your mission.”

These words could be from a military unit commander or the fire department chain of command, but instead they were issued by the local gym owner as a mandate as we seek our purpose in this life. The workout was set up as a fundraiser/dedication to ┬álocal police officer Aaron Pearson who’d been shot in the face in the line of duty, and while still alive, the injury is career ending and will continue to define his struggle to survive or lead anything resembling a normal life.

Trying to wrap my mind around the struggle his family is enduring is a test of acceptance as to the inherently unfair obstacles that occur to us as people just trying to do our best, our jobs, our callings. According to the gym owner, the officer is making valiant but bare steps to survive, responding physically to the positive presence of close family and friends as they visit him in something of a medically induced comatose state. It is a sobering reminder of just what every law enforcement officer risks each time they report for duty, and they have my utmost respect for the dangers they face while trying to keep the rest of us safe from those who would do us harm. His fight has begun in earnest and while he’s currently incapable of understanding the reach of his inspiration to date, people community-wide are murmuring their prayers of support and silent entreaties to a full recovery.

This was the foundation that was being referenced when told to not outsource our mission. The concept was simple enough, elegant in its sparse, yet clear direction. Whatever our calling may be in this life, and from wherever it originates, it’s the one thing we cannot delegate out or ignore. Too often it is too easy to avoid facing the quiet spaces of our mind to hear what calls to us. I know I’m guilty of it, and by avoiding the challenge in favor of what others might expect, from teachers to parents to peers, I’m doing a disservice to not only those who might benefit from my best efforts, it has a profound effect on my own outlook. I wasn’t born to be an excavator, an oil rig worker or semi-professional full contact woodworker. The fire department is a calling of sorts, sure, but ask any second grader and they will reply the same. I find I relate best to second graders and people over 65, so that makes its own kind of sense.

But to engage people in honest discourse, to hear their stories, to be a shoulder and friend to those who seek it; that is a mission worth embracing. In the end, it won’t matter how many hours of overtime I got riding backwards in a fire engine in the dark of the night. Did I help those in their time of need? Can I account for my time as a worthwhile father and friend? I hope so. It is a calling worth an honest effort. To open up to vulnerability, to learn to lose judgement and pull up alongside someone struggling and shoulder their load for a minute, this is a trade in which I aspire to journeyman status.

To fight and to love; what a juxtaposition. While fighting for his very life, Officer Pearson inspires the very best example of love from the community he serves. Local business are fundraising like mad to help the family. His story features nightly on our news, and this is a good thing. We focus not on the dirtbag element that brought him here, but rather the communal shoulder it takes to lift he, his family and fellow officers up in support. Would that we could live like that daily. Would that we would fight for love and through that love avoid fighting one another. My heart goes out to Officer Pearson and his family. They’ll never see this, never know how many are gathering in small groups or sitting alone at a small table alone with their thoughts while pounding out their souls onto a keyboard, hoping they have within them the courage to face the battles we all encounter. But here we are, today, doing just that, and that is a beautiful thing in its own right.

May a speedy recovery be the fate of Officer Pearson. May we all take comfort in the knowledge that good men and women daily risk their lives protecting ours. May we never outsource our mission, in whatever form it takes.