As we approach the annual observance of the holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we’re seeing the usual news stories and documentaries about civil rights and racial reconciliation, and hearing many people allude to the dream Dr. King expressed in his most famous speech.

May I suggest we remember and celebrate Dr. King in a more personal and meaningful way? Specifically, what if we used his memory as a reminder to live our own purpose with courage and conviction?

I firmly believe God has a purpose for each of us. There’s a reason we’re placed on Earth, even if we’re not exactly certain of what that purpose is. We have a role to play in our families, around our friends, and within our communities.

Dr. King’s sense of purpose was strong, and while his life may have been ended prematurely, he remained focused on his purpose until his last breath. He put his own needs behind calling attention to the needs of others. More than 50 years after his death, his purpose continues to call attention to unfairness and inequalities while inspiring us all to do better.

People who know their purpose tend to live happier, more satisfying lives. When good and bad things happen in their lives, they examine them within the context of that purpose and better understand the steps they should take. When they run into roadblocks, knowing their purpose keeps them focused on their longer-term goals, so they can push past whatever is in their way. Purpose is powerful.

Last week, our director, April Bordeau, wrote about preventing suicide. Mental health professionals know there’s a formula that’s often present in those who are considering ending their lives. If you combine isolation with a sense of hopelessness and a belief that you’re a burden to others, you’re far more likely to consider suicide. But when you live your life with purpose, you don’t feel hopeless or burdensome, and you’re more likely to be around others.

You matter and there’s a reason for you to be here. Why not follow Dr. King’s example and live valiantly in your purpose? His work isn’t done yet and neither is yours. And if you’re not certain you have a purpose, or if you’re not sure how you can weave your purpose into your daily life, why not set a time to sit down with one of our professional counselors? We can help you examine your life and live the way you want.

Jared Jones combines a deep faith in God’s healing power with the use of cognitive and behavioral strategies to help people struggling with anxiety, mood disorders, and addictions.