Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Am I Living or Simply Surviving?

Am I truly living or am I simply surviving? This is a question we should ask ourselves from time to time. We have not been brought into this world simply to survive. While living and surviving are closely tied, there is a distinct difference between the two. Obviously we must survive in order to live, but must we live in order to survive? Survival requires us to be alive in a physical sense, but living has a deeper meaning than simply our physical presence. It is true that to be alive means that we are not dead, but we can be mentally or spiritually dead and yet still be alive physically. To be truly alive in a mental and spiritual sense we must pursue a positive, satisfying existence. The definition of a positive, satisfying existence could mean different things to different people. In my opinion, this means that we must seek God in our daily lives. After all, God is the source of all that is good in the world. God is the source of our happiness. God is love. If we do not actively pursue to know and love God, we will always feel emptiness. We will feel abandoned and alone, but God never abandons us. We may think that He does, but really it is just a lack of understanding on our part. Surviving is not good enough for us. We are not like the other animals of the world. We were made in the image and likeness of God. We seek more than simply survival on this earth. We seek eternal life in heaven. So we must frequently ask ourselves whether or not we are simply surviving or are we living our life according to God’s will? This living does not require physical wellness or material wealth. To be truly alive is something all of us can achieve regardless of the significance of our earthly standing. In fact, often times material wealth and physical wellness lead us to complacency and may lead us to a life devoid of truly living. Think about everything I have said about living and then read the following quote I have heard or read from an old acquaintance. This is a very common feeling among many people in relationships of all stages.

“I got so caught up living for someone else and forgot to live for myself”

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever said or thought something like this? I bet you have at least at some point in your life. I have. Maybe I didn’t say the same exact quote, but I think we all at times reach a point where we think we’ve had enough. We work so hard for someone or something and we don’t see a return. Maybe we do something nice for someone and we don’t receive thanks for our deed. We might be inclined then to no longer do good deeds for that person. After all, that person does not appreciate what I do for them than why should I do anything?

The answer is love. We do it out of love. If we can’t understand that, then we don’t know what love truly is and we won’t understand why relationships crumble when adversity strikes. I believe one of the main reasons we have such a high divorce rate in the U.S. and in the world is because we don’t really know what love is. If we all truly knew and understood what love is, we would not make comments like the one above. If we want to know what love is, all we have to do is look at a crucifix. God is love. The very life of Jesus Christ is the definition of love. All we have to do is follow his example. Granted it is not always easy, but when we fall we have the opportunity to recognize our sinfulness and turn back to God. He is always willing to forgive us sinners who sincerely repent and ask for strength to overcome our sinfulness. In the course of our lives we will be presented with difficulties and hardships. We will encounter disappointment, failure and sadness. All of us will suffer at some point in our life. How we respond to our sufferings defines our character. If we are living a life only for ourselves, it is as if we are walking through life with deaf ears and one eye closed. We will not be able to react reasonably when we encounter difficult times. We will not be able to see the bigger picture, the greater importance of our life. How said it would be if we were on this earth to live a life for ourselves? Think about that! No wonder so many people are depressed. That’s a really sad outlook on life.

The fact of the matter is that we are not on this earth to live for ourselves, but to live for others and for God! When I hear people say they forgot to live for themselves, I pray to God that I may never forget the importance of living my life for others and for God. I’m not saying this is easy. It is in our nature to look after our own best interests. Capitalism is based on this very notion. It is not wrong to take care of ourselves, but when we live solely in order to fulfill our own wants we are not following Jesus’ example.

I am going to repeat the comment in question and when you read it a second time, I want you to focus your thought on Jesus. Read this comment and think about the life of Jesus. Think about how much he sacrificed and suffered for others. Think about his reaction to those who persecuted him and nailed him to a cross. Take a look at a crucifix and tell me if you agree with this basis for living your life.

“I got so caught up living for someone else and forgot to live for myself”

As followers of Christ, we must follow his example. If we follow Him we will discover love. We will not simply survive, but we will discover what it truly means to live!

God Bless!

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