When it comes to blogging, I try to mix things up a bit; a funny post here, a meaningful one there, and maybe even just a little bit fluff on occasion. I hate to do too much of the same thing at the one time. Not sure why, but I just do.
Having said that, as I said last week, these thoughts have been going round and round in my mind, and I’ve been struggling to make sense of them. The turn of phrase ‘life full. Die empty’ was a starting point for me, but as the week has gone on, it has begun to mean so much more.
We live in a culture that is very self involved. We place a high priority on mental health (which is fantastic, and so necessary), but we often equate that health with the need to put ourselves first. Look after number one, and everything else will fall in to place and life will be peaches and cream. It’s a nice idea, with an element of truth. We need to look after ourselves, absolutely. If we are not strong in mind and body, we can not help others to be. It comes down to the whole oxygen mask on a plane scenario; you fit yours before you fit your children, despite the fact that I’m sure that goes against every grain in a mother’s body. If you don’t, you might not be around to protect them from what’s to come.
I can’t help but wonder though, if the message has become twisted. That instead of seeing our personal needs as one priority in a whole list of things that are important, we have placed the happiness of ourselves above all else. ‘What’s in it for me?’ we often ask, convinced that if something does not reward us with payment of a monetary or satisfactory kind, it’s not actually worth our time. Even the idea of ‘live full, die empty,’ can be skewed so that it’s about living so that we can fulfil our dreams, and make life good for ourselves. Not ever taking into consideration that we live in a world where there are millions of people each day, who will not only never see their dream come true, but are so broken, they have forgotten what it is to hope.
I’ve been listening to podcasts by a woman called Christine Caine, who together with her husband founded an organisation called the A21 campaign, which “exists to abolish injustice in the 21st century through a comprehensive system of preventative measures, victim protection, prosecution of violators, and strategic partnerships.”
Did you know, that in this point in our history, there are more slaves on the planet than there has ever been before?
That every 30 seconds another person becomes the victim of human trafficking?
There is an estimated 27 million people in bondage right now. Men, women and children sold for an average price of $99 USD.
It’s beyond tragic.
It’s heart breaking.
And yet most days I worry about whether or not the towels in my bathroom match the shower mat.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the horror of human tragedy; we hear about every day, and we are literally inundated with calls to give financially or of our time, or even our ‘good thoughts.’ As if thinking positively will set free the 12 year old who is forced to service 30 men a day. We become frustrated and step back, because really, it’s so easy to think, ‘what on earth can I do? How can I change anything?’ I’m busy enough.
We’re all busy. So busy.
Busy reading blog posts that tell us to ‘live full, die empty’ and chase our dreams. Busy trying to build a future for our families in nice homes with coordinated bathrooms. Busy taking mental health weekends to try and combat all the stress of our business.
And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. Not at all. Dreams should be chased. Futures need to be built. And if you offered me a weekend away from my crazy life right now, I would take that with both hands, and not let go.
But there is also so much more than that. There is life to give, and that’s a gift we all have. Whether it’s seeing a human trafficker brought to justice and the oppressed set free, or it’s saying an encouraging word to someone at just the right time and seeing their burden lifted, it is important. That’s what living full is; living free and helping others be free.
Most of you know I work in a liquor shop, and so I am exposed daily to alcoholics who think nothing beyond the need for their next drink. It would be easy for me to become callous and judgemental, and for it to seem normal, but I refuse to think that way. I want the pain and suffering of other human beings to always break my heart; to always cause me grief. And not an emotional reaction that then has me trying to work out how I can do something to make me feel better, but actual genuine compassion.
“True compassion is not merely an emotional feeling…True compassion means that we must cross the street, get involved and go into the midst of the pain and brokenness of humanity….It is not compassion unless it leads to corresponding action.” Christine Caine- Compassion in a desperate hour
I’m still trying to work out how to take that action, but at least I’m working on it, and we’ve all got to start somewhere.
I said last week, that I choose to be a person who will live their life full, and die knowing I have exhausted every ounce of potential I have in my body. But I’m going on record right here to add to that. It’s not enough that I do that, so that I feel good, and like I accomplished something. I want the emptying of myself to always be because I am pouring into another; the dreams I pursue, the life I live, the love I share, to always be others focused.
Let me never say, ‘what’s in it for me?’ But let me always life as if my life is not my own.