Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blindsided with Purpose

Analiza Gobaton & Family

Every now and then life hits you with devastating news; the kind of news that comes out of nowhere and hits you on your blindside and sends even the strongest of men to their knees; as was the case when I received that dreaded phone call in 1995 informing me of my baby sister and parent’s fatal car accident in Georgia, or when I got the text from my sister yesterday that her best friend and dear friend of ours, Liza Gobaton, was shot in the head by a stray bullet while driving to her kid’s school (read about it here).   I write this just after receiving a text that Liza was declared brain dead since 10am this morning and that the life support, her earthly plug, will be pulled after her loved ones finish saying their goodbyes. 
I wasn’t as close to Liza as my sister, Anne, who considered her a sister and best friend, but my heart still aches with sadness because of how wonderful of a friend she was to my sister and us each time we visited Anne in Florida.  After going through Liza’s Facebook notes and pictures of her husband and three young kids one last time, I am reminded yet again about the certainty of our death and the uncertainties of life.  Since the deaths of my sister and parents, I have searched for answers to why God allows such things to happen to good people.  I’d like to say I found the answers, but I haven’t.  Instead, I am left with only the “faith” that I will come to that complete understanding when it is my time to leave this earth.
Meanwhile I (we) are left in this place we call life trying to make sense of all the uncertainties that life constantly throws at us.  The biggest of these, at least in my mind, is our purpose in life.  Unquestionably, this is the biggest question that mankind asks every day.  For me, it took getting pummeled on my blindside by the deaths of my sister and parents to take this into serious consideration. 
I am already in my forties and am convinced that life doesn’t have to be as uncertain as it is if only the certainty of its end were clearer to me at a younger age, say since age one.  Thanks to my parents though, I have learned that I will be accountable to only one question in the end: “Did I love.”  To me, that is the goal, end zone or purpose in life. 
Unfortunately, society creates all sorts of different goals that blur and takes us off course from who we truly are and what we truly should be doing.  The media of today makes it especially harder for people with its creation of “Idols,” reality shows, and “self” focused messages.  Even without the media, our society feeds us with notions of what the world wants us to become instead of making the best out of “who we are.”
Take my father, Crisanto T. Delson, for example.  In a nutshell, he followed the worldly advice of society by doing what he was told to do.  He went to school like everyone else and became the pride of many Igorots by achieving academic accolades such as valedictorian and high honors.  His academic achievements spoke volumes about the intelligence of Igorots amongst the overwhelming majority of Tagalog Filipinos in his school and university, thus "momentarily" dowsing the kindling belief that Igorots were stupid then. 
After working as an engineer in the Philippines for several years, he brought our family to America where he quickly realized how expensive it is to raise a family of five (and later six) kids.  It didn’t take him very long before he “threw out” the notion that education is everything and left his engineering “career” to take on a “vocation” in America’s entrepreneurial world by going into real estate, and later; financial services.  “If only I knew then,” were his words to me on many occasions.
Now, when people hear the word “vocation,” they think it has to do with becoming a priest, minister, nun or something like that, but that’s not always the case.  Vocation comes from the Latin “Vocare,” which means “To call.”  It is a calling in life.  A goal.  The purpose.
When we are asked, “Did you love?” we could look back and see whether we lived a “career” life or a life of loving vocation.  For my mother, she quit her nursing profession to become a loving stay-at-home mother, which I feel is one of the greatest vocations there is.  In my dad’s case, I could say his vocation and work were essentially the same since he provided for us while sincerely helping others.  He taught me that work "should" be a vocation since we spend so much time doing it, and that it doesn't have to be a separate entitity.  In fact, much of his decision to leave the corporate world was because he wanted to spend more time with his family, his primary vocation.  Some people have asked me and wonder why I didn’t continue with my father’s business, especially since the financial rewards are great.
My answer is simple: because he told me not to.  My father never told me this in those words.  Instead, he asked me on several occasions, “Why are you doing this? (working with him at the time)  You’re too creative.  Maybe you should think about applying it (creativity) towards something that will benefit others.”  In essence, he identified a God given gift or characteristic I had and told me to use it to help others.
Did I listen?  No, because I was sold on society’s image of success and happiness.  Even my father’s own words, which I deeply respected, were muffled by the world around.  I wish this wasn't the case, but it was.  "Life is too short," were also words I often heard from him.  I should have listened; it would have saved me alot of wasted time. 
So, now that life has blindsided me again with Liza’s tragedy, I find myself pausing to regain my bearing again only to reflect on the two things that makes sense to me: 1) We will ultimately be asked if we loved, and 2) it is up to us to either apply our gifts toward a worthy vocation or not.    I am confident that Liza's answer these two things is “Yes.”  Her family will continue on in testament to her love.  Please join me in praying for her husband and three children, who I pray will also love as much as Liza did and does. 

A purpose-filled life is a much richer life than one filled with worldly achievements, yet lacks selfless purpose.
I dedicate these written thoughts to our dear friend, Liza Gobaton and her family.  Rest in peace. 
If you would like to share your condolences to her family, you can send her husband, Jon Gobaton, a message on Facebook.


  1. Condolence to your friend and his families. I wish the kids well, in growing up without their biological mom. It's just sorrowful,

  2. @ TruBlue . . . Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.


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