"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tell Me... What are You Doing with Your One and Beautiful Life?

I think about this often. Realizing that I have only THIS moment in a given day forces me to mark each hour, each minute as precious. I want to seize every possible opportunity and milk all there is out of it.

But here's an interesting fact.... to do that is a luxury! In other countries people aren't sitting around being inspired by quotations and wondering how they can make the most of their lives? Many human beings are engaged in the struggle just to survive. They do not dwell upon the most delicious food for the day; they wonder if they will GET food today or be able to feed their children. They do not worry about the clothing that they will wear, how to express themselves more fully; they wear the same barren rags every day and many do not have shoes to protect their feet. They aren't decorating their homes; they are swatting at bugs and avoiding scorpions and dangerous snakes or rebels with machine guns. They certainly are not evaluating their personalities and trying to figure out how to pleasure themselves for they are too busy using their brain to figure out how to stay alive or keep themselves and their family from physical violation. They live in hopelessness and redemption will most likely never come their way in this life. Their days will be short and full of misery.

Don't you feel terrible when you think of that? I do! In fact, I try NOT to think of that as much as possible. If I do, I say a little prayer for those poor people and move on. Sometimes I give money to a cause that will help (that's the least that I can do).

The other day I met a young couple that was moving to Sudan with their two young children to help them dig wells. Sudan!!! I thought, don't they watch the news? Instead of seeing the couple with bravery, I saw them as innocents that were sacrificing their children and their own beautiful lives for a hopeless cause. Yes, I'm a cynic I guess! This twenty something couple feels convicted to give their lives to helping others, and should be supported and yet, I worry about them. I wonder how much they can do with the needs of two very small children. I worry about their health and physical safety. I couldn't help but wonder what unconscious disfunctions might lie behind their decision to go. As I listened to them, everything in me wanted to scream, "Go back to Kansas!"

So what IS our responsibility to the world? What is a correct response to poverty and despair? The answer is different for all of us. Some people are called to help. They are especially gifted or have a personality makeup that enables them to serve and make changes. Some of us are not supposed to go overseas, but we all should help in some way. My father was asked to consider moving to Africa when I was very young but decided against it partly because I had severe allergies (Thank goodness, I HATE snakes...) It is my conviction that he did more good in the first ward ghetto of Paterson than he would have accomplished in Nigeria with the barriers of language and culture. Everyone can't go, but many can. It takes great conviction and determination along with a strong character to give up your comforts to help others. It's not for the faint of heart. Incidently, hindsight is a great teacher. If we had gone to Africa, my siblings and I would have been forced to go live in a "missionary school" hundreds of miles away from my parents. It came out a few years ago that there was abuse in that institution. Our family would have been gravely affected by this. In an attempt to rescue others, my parents would have sacrificed the lives of their children. Because my folks chose to stay in the US and help those on our own soil they protected us and still changed their world. They were faithful to their family needs and now we are a new generation that live to help others, as will our children when their turn comes!

So, it's okay to stay home too! Some are able to support those who go financially. This too is a great gift. Others pray. Never underestimate the power of prayer! One extra prayer can tip the balance of good and evil for a person or for a country. Finally, living in gratitude for all you have would be a MAJOR MUST DO! All of us should be doing this!

Since the world is in such a state of chaos, is it even RIGHT for me to write a blog that encourages people daily to live in fullness when it is not an option for so many others? Let me answer that question with another. Is it alright to laugh with a friend who is dying? I mean, things are grave, what is there to laugh about? Does it do your grieving friend justice to wallow in the misery of the situation?

Life is to be enjoyed! Just because some people don't get to enjoy it doesn't mean that we all need to sit in misery. Doing that is like putting up a billboard announcing the end of the world! We were created to have life and enjoy it fully! We were brought into a world full of beauty and love and that is where our focus needs to be.  It would be wrong to focus on the dark of night and not see the beauty and grace all around us. We need to celebrate the good things that happen and in doing so we push away the darkness. You honor what you place your attention on.

Pain should never be our focus. We all need to concentrate on love and joy. Yes, we should help others when we have the chance. We should pour our hearts and lives into giving for the season that is allotted to us. We all have a different purpose in life! It could be that as you get in touch with your heart, you may find that you have a special burden on your soul to help a cause or a certain people group! VIOLA! That would be great! It's possible that right now your true purpose and your heart may still be buried in "should do's".  It's my hope that as you get in touch with yourself, you will fulfill your destiny and that can only mean one thing... that you are making the world a better place!

So today, don't live in doubt or guilt because you are one of the privileged ones. Live in gratitude! By making the most out of your gifted status you are honoring the one that put you in that good place. If you have been given much, much will be expected of you. It's a HUGE responsibility. Our shackles are few compared to so many, so shake them off and run fast and hard. Train yourself to be the best that you can possibly be.... it's good for the soul!

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