The age-old question is “how an all-loving God allows evil in this world”, including the tragedy that all of us experience at some point in our lives. An inferred aspect of that question is “why do these things happen to me, good or bad, and what am I to make of them?”

As you know, I work at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where there and previously, I’ve had the opportunity to lead teams through strategic planning processes. Over the years, I’ve always begun the process with having all the team members present their lifelines, so as to get to know each other more personally. Simply stated, one’s lifeline is the identification and description of critical or pivotal events in one’s life. Having prepared, in 10 minutes, each person describes their most impactful experiences, starting from their youth. For many, this will often include aspects of their faith journeys.

I’ve also incorporated the idea of our “Why” into this process, both individually and for the organization. We’ll talk more about this, as introduced by Simon Sinek in his 2009 book, Start with Why, in next week’s blog.

Related to our “why”, which is our purpose, cause, or belief, according to Simon, it is important to understand our lifeline…all those things that have occurred in our lives. Why did they take place? What lessons are we to learn? What are we to do going forward?

Here’s the reality…every single, individual thing (occurrence) in your life is CRITICAL to who you are today. My wife and I often joke that it would be so nice to eliminate this tragedy or that wound. That’s not the way it works…thank God. You wouldn’t be who you are today without experiencing every single thing…the good, the great, the wonderful, as well as the bad, the terrible, and the ugly. Part of my prayer of gratitude every morning is the line above, in addition to the line below.

We are were we are because it’s where we’re supposed to be. We are who we are because it’s who God is making us to be. Every single occurrence, again…good or bad, goes into who we are.  We all have God-given gifts, talents, and passions. How we use those and maximize our God given purpose are a result of our experiences. God gives us the opportunity to make a ministry out of our mistakes, our messes.

So, given the above, pray through your lifeline. Write it down, maybe in a prayer journal…start one if you don’t have one. Share your lifeline with someone else. Remember it for next week, as we do a deeper dive into our “why”. And take to prayer what God is calling you to do.

As always, please contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God Made You for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph