The following was written by my son. At the age of 21 he is starting his academic career at a local college. He was tasked with writing an essay. The words written below are his words. As his father, I was not expecting what I read. I told him that someone out there in the world could benefit from his words. Maybe that’s you. Enjoy the read.
“What if we existed in a universe, where every person knew their specific purpose? This
purpose is not a robotic one, where we are stuck with whatever role we got, and we just happen to know it. The kind of thing I am talking about, should make the definition of “purpose” hold a much higher significance. Due to my faith, I have always believed we all have a purpose, and we were put here to accomplish certain things. For some of us, our tasks may be bigger than others. However, I do not believe people are born for greatness or this idea that someone did not have to put any effort into becoming what they were by the end of their lives. Personal decisions, reality checks, and complete sincerity with oneself after all means of evaluation and self-acceptance, are the kind of things and ways I believe people become great and fulfill their so-called destiny. The truth behind the fact that most of us search for this, or maybe unfortunately not, is something that has puzzled me for most of my 21 years on planet earth. However, I had a specific event happen to me that I am about to share that completely changed the course of my life and directed me into a better understanding of my purpose here, but first we need some backstory. The event that I will be sharing, was one in the making over years and years of my early life. Honestly, my whole life up to this point was what built me up for this moment.
First, let me explain some things that led me to this event, and helped form my path of life that got me to knowing what my point to purpose was. If I do not explain these certain set of events prior to “The event”, the fullness and magnitude of what it meant will not be there. Basically, what I am saying is, knowing what came before it is crucial. My father is Bryan Hood, and he happens to be one of the most important pieces in my life. I would assume that a lot of people would say their fathers were pivotal in shaping who they are, especially men. This, however, does not mean it shaped them particularly in a good way, but nonetheless they made a definite impact. My dad was a military man, and served in the US Army for over 2 decades. This has always been something that I admired about him deeply, his sacrifice and courage to live that life. It comes with many ups and can introduce an extraordinary number of downs. In the end though, to make it out alive and leave the legacy that he has, is amazing to me. Growing up, the military lifestyle was one that I was aware of greatly. My 2 siblings and I became familiar with weaponry early, learning how to shoot and rightfully protect and defend ourselves from trouble if it shall arise. In my earlier years, seeing my dad in his uniform was always a very memorable experience. The memories of gripping him so tight and never wanting to let go before he would deploy to a faroff
place, because it could always be our final goodbye. Though, the memories of his returning
home were by far much better and required a death grip hug much tighter than the latter. Both were still accompanied by that same uniform, so it was almost a love-hate relationship of sorts to the image of it. Nonetheless, my dad was not only a hero to millions, but my personal hero. One of the coolest parts about him to me, is the fact that he always believed he was destined for the path he has walked. He would tell me stories about when he was a little boy, and how he would imagine being at war with his toy guns. Men of past generations on both sides of his family had served in wars, so the legacy was carried on through him. By the way he conveyed it to me, he never had any doubt that he was born for it. What this did in me, was the creation of the idea and notion that because he had accomplished so much in my eyes and he always felt destined for his path without a doubt, I believed I too would fall upon such an understanding of my own destiny. Yet, my search for the point of purpose took a little longer to discover but was interjected by divine intervention.
When it was time to graduate high school, I did not know what my purpose was or really
understand what interests or gifts I possessed. Quite frankly, I really had not been searching for it. The next couple years after graduation between 2018-2020, the question of if I was moving into adulthood was undeniable, but it was met with some rocky realizations and gut-check moments. On the positive side, I got a really great job that I would consider a significant blessing from God. On July 18, 2018, I received a call from Luke Rogers who is the owner of Be Ultimate Sports. He also happens to be a Christian man and one of my biggest spiritual influences up to this point, so that was another way I felt that this opportunity was from God. Without him, I am not sure I would have continued to keep the door open on believing the Lord was real at that time in my life. The fact that it was in the sporting arena, I felt that God had blessed me with it and maybe I was going to make something of this opportunity. From July- October 2018 I worked for Luke, and I was living in an apartment in Springfield with one of my best friends. Life seemed glorious, I traveled for a state fair and set up camp for 9-11 days depending on the state. I was making great money for a kid who could still not tell anyone what he wanted to do or go for in life. Once work ended in October, I had a good sum of money saved up and decided I would chill out for a bit and enjoy life.
Over the next couple months, I was enjoying life but created a distance between my father and God. There was no deliberate decision to do it, however if I am being honest it was probably because I was doing things that I felt would disappoint both. My focus was enjoying the moment, and that was accompanied with all the world can offer for pleasure or entertainment. I felt a ton of shame and guilt, my search for purpose had dissipated into nothing. By the time January hit of 2019, my money I had stockpiled
from my Be Ultimate travels was toast. Feeling good about myself was an absolute no, and I was really pondering life and how I could hopefully feel good about what the purpose of it all was. One day, when it was dark and gloomy in my apartment, I was crying to myself and could not really handle the moment anymore. I remember sitting there and through my trembling saying, “God, if you’re real I really need your help right now.” Almost instantly after I said that I felt more euphoric and comforted than I think I could ever really state for such an ironically timed set of circumstances. My state of mind was not sober, but I felt such a clear feeling of joy and warmth from an outer source that was not what I was on clearly. After looking around for a second, I beamed my eyes at my Bible sitting on my desk and realized how much I had forgotten about God. In that moment he was also the realest to me he had ever been, without a doubt. How I took that event was that I needed to seek God and try to see if his way would benefit me more than my own.
That was hard when I was 19, rebellious and on the edge were how I operated. Changing that mindset because I started to believe even more that there is a God who is trying to
lead me was hard to get me convinced of. Through seeking the Lord’s council and trying to stay focused on standing back up in my soul, I started to work out again and decided praying and reading my bible was a good idea to try. My 1996 Toyota 4Runner, “The Runner”, as known by local legend was in pitiful condition. The plates on it were expired for so long that I had a warrant for my arrest, and the driving condition of it was fading fast from all the carnage I had brought it since I was 16. That included sinking it in a river sophomore year and wrecking it off the road in icy conditions senior year. So, I needed a job close that required as little driving as possible for the sake of the plates and its horrible status. Then one day, I got contacted about working for a Hampton Inn and Suites that was only 8 miles away from my apartment. Going in for the interview, I would have been willing to take any position. I am pretty sure I would have done a stupid dance or attempted a standing backflip which there would have been no way to accomplish. Thankfully, neither of those were necessary and I got the job. Working there got me financially back on my feet, and then out of the blue, someone I had also forgotten was so important to me gave me a call. It was Luke, and in that moment, I broke down crying in the hotel room I was cleaning because I was flooded with so much emotion. Amazingly, I realized how much Luke had meant to me and how I felt that God had led me to him. By then the ironic timing of me searching for God and good things happening that were oriented around him when I did was obvious, if I was to ignore that then I was a fool.
Luke offered me to work for him again, and offered me a manager’s position, which knocked me off my rocker. Without hesitating I accepted, and I worked at the Hampton’s until July 2019 and then went back to traveling for Be Ultimate. This time, I got to go around the country on my own, and that was such a good thing for me that helped me gain a lot of confidence and started to fill back up the adventurous spirit I had forgotten I possessed. Once work ended for Luke in October 2019, I knew that I needed to decide on what the future looked like for me. The job with Luke was great, but I came to the realization I needed to make a move that would be a full-time thing. There were not many options, but my dad helped re-introduce an idea that I shut down long ago. The only reason I had shut it down is because searching for my purpose and fulfilling my so-called destiny if I ever could was so important to me. Just like my dad, but I wanted it to be my own. The idea that was introduced to me was to join the military, and I accepted it knowing it would make my dad proud but not ever feeling like I had found my purpose in life.
We finally come to the pinnacle moment, “The event”, and the spot in time when I
myself would realize what the search for the point of purpose really meant all along. It was
January 2020, so right about a year ago. I had tried my best to make this decision to join the
military my own, as it was hard for me not to feel like it was just the cards I had been dealt and would never realize what Mason was actually about. Instead of choosing the Army like my dad, I chose the Navy and had honestly planned to go into it with the full intentions of going one hundred percent and not caring about what happens in the end. If I was not to find my destiny, then the life I was to live was still going to memorable. This did not mean memorable in a good way, I personally wanted action and war. I felt like the bar was set so high by my dad, and I would not be pleased with anything less for myself. People would remember what I did, or I would try the best I could to make it that way. My lifestyle was pure, as I had to get ready for military life and needed to be in peak condition. These kinds of things led me to stay close to God, and away from things that drowned my soul in the past. Deep down there was a part of me that felt that this was really what God had for me, and I was happy for that reason.
So, the day came when I was to go to MEPS, which is in Kansas City and is where one gets physically evaluated and signed up for the branch of their choice. I had my bag packed with my bible, one pair of clothes as we would only be there one night, and extreme optimism for the coming event in my life. When the shuttle van arrived at the Navy recruitment station early on that cold morning, I was ready. Opening the door to the shuttle van, I was introduced by the driver with a kind warmness that made it easy at first. He was an older man and was soft spoken. As soon as I got in, he said to me, “Young man, would you like a New Testament bible?” There were only two other kids in the van, and I had assumed he asked them as well and not just me. I replied with, “No I’ve actually got mine in my bag, but I appreciate it!” That in itself, was a feeling that God was with and maybe this was the perfect move. Maybe somehow, someway my destiny was
this and it started to feel more comfortable and easier to accept. We rode about 40 miles north, and the old man told us we would be stopping at McDonalds in Buffalo to eat some food. Boom, another warm feeling that I was meant for this. Buffalo was not just some town; it was the town I grew up going to school at when I had lived with my mom in Elkland growing up.
The McDonalds was familiar, heck maybe I would see a face I knew because the town was only a population of around twenty-five hundred people. Everything felt like it was coming together, and not a thing in the world felt like that was going to change. The Big Mac was calling my name, which was weird because I never ate Big Macs. This streak of goodness I was on had me doing things that wild, Big Mac wild. Eating it all was hard to be honest, but who cares if I wasted half of it. Military pay was going to keep me secured and I knew it would not be much longer before I was financially stable and had found my role in life. Expecting a lot of peace of mind and clarity as to who I was, was central to joining the Navy. The search for the point of purpose was over, whether I was satisfied by it or not. Suddenly, the old man walked in the McDonalds. With me being the only kid from the van in there he came to me and saw what I was up to before ordering. Out of nowhere, he hit me with a doozy, “So young man, how did you come to know the Lord?” Wow, was how I felt, and was not ready to answer that but gave it my best shot. I figured he knew I was religious because I previously refused his New Testament Bible offer for my personal full edition in my bag. Telling him how I was born in a military family and continued with how I did not really know what my purpose was in life for a long time. He listened and never interrupted, which was nice and interesting to me. This was now the second time this random old man and I had talked about God, a man I never knew before that day. Convincing him that this was where I felt God had led me after multiple years of struggle and confusion, was my goal. Though, most of it was trying to convince myself. We packed back into the van, and the next stop was Kansas City. Riding there I tried my best to be as friendly as possible, because this was where God placed me to try to be a light to others about what he has done in my life. Generally, I am a talkative person and enjoy breaking people I see uncomfortable out of their comfort zone. The kids that never get talked to or will not choose to say a word I target.
Pulling into the parking lot of MEPS was daunting, but it was go time. With about ten of us in the van, collectively we started getting our stuff together. The old man turns around after we are parked and begins with, “Well, we’re here. I just want to wish you all the best and hope you are happy with your decisions to join the military.” He commended us for our
choice to do so, and his gentle kindness continued to spill out. Suddenly, he looked at me and said, “But young man do you think you can wait in here for a second?” Crap, I had already done something wrong was what I thought but had no idea how. Why did he want to keep me in here? He also insisted another girl stayed in there with me, she was the one I had talked the most to and was very friendly to me. We moved up to the front row of the van to see what he wanted, and when he turned around to look at me, he looked like he had seen a ghost. This was a stare I had not ever received, and he had my attention immediately. These were the words he spoke, “Young man, I just wanted to tell you that I believe the Lord is telling me you are going to be an evangelist.” After hearing such words, the air inside me stopped. I could not really breath, because what he said caught me so off guard. I had nothing to come back with, but he then asked if he could pray for me. In that moment, I needed the most prayer I could get. Was this not my purpose? God, did you not lead me to the military? Why was this happening right now? My mind was in a frenzy, and it was neither good or bad. Through my past I saw what I believed was God working in ironically timed ways. If this was not ironic, then what was. He prayed for me then I got off the van, with no idea what was next other than to follow orders. We went inside the building, checked in and then got bussed to our hotel which was across the highway. Dinner was served, a very nice one, and I continued with making friends and just networking. Eventually I made it back to my room, and just let things settle in my brain. Searching for my purpose was so pivotal to me for so long, and I thought I had achieved what I felt it was. Calling my parents felt right and saying that what had happened with the old man amazed them but there was no reason for them to think this was changing my course of life.
I woke up the next morning at around 4am, as we had to be at the MEPS station by 6am and breakfast was being served. This was the day I was signing up for the military, the US Navy. Full of optimism, I got everything packed up and after breakfast we all got shuttled to MEPS. There were constant warnings from all the people in charge of all the new recruits at the hotel, to be on time and to not be out of line. Basically, we were rehearsing for military life and the preparation was to be heeded or one would simply be sent home. Things were going fine and nothing else put a hitch in my Gitty-Up through the earlier part of the day. What was amazing was I ended up being one of the first people to finish all the physical tests, and the final thing to do was sign the contract. Once the pen hit paper, I was in. No backing out, and this was going to be my life. Come to find out, failing the depth perception test made it to where the job I wanted was not attainable right now. They said I could retake the test at a later time, but right now I had to pick another one. This job I wanted, was a special warfare unit and did not want to accept anything less. It had to be extreme, and I needed a job that would push me to the edge. Other job offers were being explained to me, and the uneasiness about my decision to join started to flood. Getting stuck with a job I do not want could be the death of my soul, and a mediocre military life I felt would be overshadowed by my dad’s. My life would not be significant, just a 2.0, a carbon copy of what was before me.
A job was picked, and it was a job that sounded unexciting and monotonous, but it did not matter anymore. My fate and destiny was out of my control and I left it in God’s hands. The Sergeant sitting in front of me on the computer had me sign a couple forms before the last one, and the last one was the ticket in. Before we got to the last one, the computer systems starting not working. This was almost a relief to me, but the Sergeant said this never happens and my confusion ensued. After waiting for over an hour to fix the so-called issue, the Sergeant came in and said, “Unfortunately, we cannot have you pick your job today.” They told me I was to come back the next morning and have my job picked that I was comfortable with. It was crazy, how had I been the first to finish and not gotten a job? Confused and anxious I went back to the hotel and called my dad. Come to find out, the job they wanted me to pick after my choice was squashed, was something my dad knew I would hate. He said absolutely not, and gave me the green light to tell the people at MEPS that a decision would not be made by myself as of right now. My dad wanted me to come home, and not get screwed with a job swabbing decks. Not that swabbing decks is not commendable, to some it is. However, my dad knew I was seeking something extreme, and that was not it. So, the next day I went home. I had not signed up for the military, and by the way it all happened, the feeling inside me was that God himself had shown me my purpose in more than one way.
After being home for a couple weeks, and letting what happened settle with me, the
decision was made that going in the military was not for me. By the way things had happened, there was a newfound adventure awaiting inside that was full of unknown. What that old man said to me on the van, I believed and still believe as I write this. Maybe it is not, and someday I will be an owner of a karate dojo and never be anything close to an evangelist. Nevertheless, returning home my focus was to dive deeper than ever in trying to discover who God was. Through that process, what has been learned by biblical study and personal experiences was crucial to realizing who I am. Not only that, but absolutely necessary to reaching my destiny. First off, I learned that life has seasons, and some seasons of struggle and pain are key to growth and maturity. Through growth and maturity, we are molded into who we shall be, and that continues on and on in life. The battles we face, are temporary. Mountains that rise into a path unexpectantly, should not make one hide away in fear. Climb those mountains because when we do, we will reach treasures at the top never known to exist. Patience is so important, as impatience can lead to hasty decisions that inevitably affect one’s life in possibly major ways. Most importantly what God has taught me about my search for the point of purpose, is that the point to my purpose for existence is to follow him. Crazy, right? All I have to do is follow him, more specifically Jesus, and I will capture my destiny? Yes, that is exactly it. Before MEPS, what I thought following Jesus meant holds a very different meaning now. I was not led by God to the military to become a military man, it was bigger than that. I was led there to learn that he has a purpose for me, and seeking his guidance would be the key to it. My deepest heart’s desire my whole life, was to find my purpose and the Lord has always known that. He displayed it to me that he knows that by the way he stepped in and made what happened, happen. Building a relationship with God has been more than I ever thought it was, and the power it has in my life is incomparable. It is my comfort when I am hurt or confused with life, and my strength when I need to climb mountains.
My faith as a Christian has been huge post MEPS, and I now plan to attend James River College next fall with hopes of becoming a missionary. I have actually already been on two mission trips before, and they were some of the most fulfilling moments of my life. Now of course, this is all based on faith and faith alone. God is omnipotent, and to believe what I have said to be aligned by him takes believing in him and testing the ways of Jesus with sincerity and truth. I have done these things with an honest heart, and with an honest
heart I have seen things happen through my growing faith that are not normal. But they are
things that answer my prayers, and I have conquered certain aspects of my personal life that I did not see being done like they have. If I had joined the military, there are things I have now learned that I think would have made it more difficult in life because they were things that were simply shoved down and away. They were certain aspects of my life that were more comfortable being ignored, but now I know that they must be confronted before moving forward for the life I desire. When I look back on life, I want no regrets and I believe that not following God would lead to many more than if I do follow him. In conclusion, there are times we may feel trapped by a shadow that we do not seem we can get away from. Or we feel stuck in a certain season and we really cannot say who we are or what our purpose really is. We all should want the most and best for our lives, achieving our deepest heart’s desires with good intentions. From my standpoint, God made us all for unique and beautiful reasons and through seeking him he will show us what that is. My search for the point to purpose, showed me the point to my purpose is to love others and share the good news
of Jesus. The Lord has lifted me up when I was down and lost and wanted to quit on myself. He can do that for all of us, and if I do not choose to share it then it is selfish and wrong. God has shown me that, and he will continue to show me more and more everyday who he made me to be and why he created me.”
I know that was a long read and I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for taking time to make it to the end. “Raise a child in the way they should go and they will not depart from it”.