Turning Pain Into Purpose
So many of us confront immense trauma and tragedy in life, leaving us to cope with different levels of pain. Quite often this pain can outweigh our coping skills, setting us up for further disaster.
Every day, the media bombards us with stories of pain and suffering.
Every day we are reminded of the staggering statistics of those who are unable to overcome the emotional and mental pain attached to traumatic events.
Every day we can each make the choice to feed our pain by consuming negative stories, embracing the mindset that we are victims, and giving up on ourselves.
Or- We can make the choice to acknowledge our pain, consume positive stories, and implement lessons learned from them, in our own lives.
Pain and hopelessness are no strangers in our own lives, or in the lives of the guests, we feature on American Snippets.
This week our podcast episode spotlights four of our guests with stories everyone can learn from and be inspired by.
Dave Roever is a Vietnam veteran who was so severely wounded that he was declared KIA.
He’s endured decades of surgeries and rehabilitation that have the potential to destroy his positive outlook on life. Instead, Dave turned his pain into purpose by using his experiences to help others.
High schools across the country clamor for Dave to come speak to students. The Department of Defense (DOD) pulled Dave in immediately after 9/11, sending thousands of young active duty personnel fresh from combat, to Dave’s programs. He’s reached out to families of the fallen, injecting them with a renewed reminder that life after loss is still worth living fully.
The young Sailor who’d been carried out of Vietnam, away from the war this country was losing, returned a Victor and won that war in different ways. He was integral in building a cardiac care hospital, offering life-saving treatment to thousands of Vietnamese people over the years.
Today, Dave says, “We have a miracle in Vietnam,” with over 59,000 students registered in his online school of ministry.
See Dave Roever’s full story in Episode #29
Chad Littlefield died alongside his friend Chris Kyle.
Chad Littlefield was as patriotic as can be. He had a deep gratitude for being an American and a passion for supporting all who serve. Together with his close friend Chris Kyle – known by many as the American Sniper, Chad volunteered his time to help veterans transition from combat to civilian life.
Tragically, it was this selflessness that led to his death, when he and Chris were killed by one of the veterans they were helping.
While this country lost two great Americans that day, their legacy lives on in those who loved them.
Chad’s brother Jerry Richardson and his mother, Judy Littlefield still struggle beneath the weight of their grief, but they choose to use their own pain to honor Chad’s legacy.
Today they are a large part of Operation Valor, a non-profit serving to support other veteran-based organizations.
Listen to the Littlefield’s full story in Episode #31
Bonnie Carroll fell hard into her own grief when her husband died in a military aviation accident.
Grief can destroy the lives of those left behind. It can end lives if left unchecked. Bonnie understands this on an elite professional level and intensely deep personal level.
This knowledge of grief and her insight into how to overpower it, coupled with her strong will and compassionate heart for others, compelled Bonnie to harness the power of her own pain and focus it on helping thousands of people across the world.
Unable to locate supportive services, Bonnie created TAPS, which is now this nation’s largest and most influential tragedy support system for military families.
Learn more about Bonnie Carroll and TAPS in Episode #61
Dr. Sean Stephenson was given a death sentence just moments after he was born.
But this remarkable individual defied his doctors’ prognosis first by living, and then by going on to lead an extraordinary life. Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease, is a daunting, painful condition. This genetic disorder leaves bones vulnerable to breaking with little to no provocation. For Sean, the natural act of being born was enough to crush most of his bones.
“Is this going to be a burden or a blessing?”
This is the question his mother posed to Sean, on one of the numerous occasions he found himself writhing in pain on the floor, threatened with the overwhelming pain and futility of his condition.
The question snapped things into focus for him, and Sean learned to assume control of his own response to the life he’s been given.
The pain became his teacher, “…and I was a good little student,” Sean Stephenson says.
When he meets someone who pities him, or flinches or even expresses disgust at him, he turns the sting of their reaction into a boomerang packed with forgiveness and education.
And as for those who have less kind reactions than pity, Sean accepts the role of their educator. He views these occasions as a responsibility to put his best self forward, helping people enjoy the experience of meeting him, and dispel the misperceptions often bred from ignorance.
Today Sean is a best-selling author, an acclaimed international speaker, and highly sought after therapist with a thriving practice. He’s worked on Capitol Hill, had memorable experiences with President Bill Clinton, met the Dalai Lama, and was mentored by Tony Robbins, who wrote the forward for Sean’s book, Get off your “But”: How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself
Be inspired by Dr. Sean Stephenson in Episode #33
We encourage anyone who is feeling stuck in their own pain to go back and listen to the full episodes of these interviews, so you can get a better feel for these incredible people and their stories.
Then, if you’re feeling inspired by anything you’ve heard – make a commitment to yourself to act upon that inspiration. Take at least one thought that pops into your head after listening, write it down, and set a hard date for you to begin acting on it.