If we could do that, might we in the end find that a switch has been flipped, a lever has been pulled, a knob has been turned in ourselves that forever changes us to a life that is focused more on others than on ourselves?
Think about the people we know … and the impact we can have on their lives. Maybe it’s a neighbor that you’ve just never connected with but in the midst of doing so, you discover that your stories intersect in ways you never imagined possible. Maybe it’s a co-worker who you know is going through some tough times and just needs someone to hang with and go to a movie or something.
Maybe it’s a relative with whom you have fallen out of touch. Maybe it’s more serious than just falling out of touch. Maybe you’ve both held the other responsible for so long that now you haven’t a clue what’s at the root of it all. Maybe your contact with them at this holiday season can set off a whole time of healing in which you both finally begin to understand and deal with the past instead of ignore it. Maybe dealing with it leads you to a place in life far richer than ignoring it.
Maybe it’s a child you know who just needs that extra support and encouragement …maybe their parents are too caught up in life right now to let the child know they’re loved.
Maybe it’s the person behind you in line at WalMart who you can tell is just overwhelmed. Maybe it’s nothing more than adding a $5 or $10 gift card to your bill that you turn around and give to them. Maybe that brings them the encouragement they need right then … maybe it throws their lever and gets them to start looking at what they can do for others.
Maybe it’s the homeless person you meet on the street and, as you look into their eyes and press whatever you can into their palm, you tell them to hang on. If you’re a person of faith you share a bit of that. But they part from you knowing that they matter as a person. Maybe, just maybe it will be the first time in their life they have ever been told that … by anyone.
What I am throwing out here is the concept of living our lives for others rather than for ourselves. There is something I’ve often noticed in people at the end of their lives. If they have always lived with a focus on their selves, they end up tired, disappointed and bitter … as well as old. This is, I believe, because there was no way they could ever fulfill all of those things that they were seeking when they lived for themselves.
But, when someone who spent their life living for others reaches the end of their time here on earth, they have a peace, a spirit and even an energy about themselves … they can look back and instead of looking at the now meaningless things they did for themselves, they can look at the lives they touched … the lives they changed … the hope and encouragement they brought to others … the lives they transformed. And, in that, there is something far more satisfying, rewarding and energizing than just living for ourselves.
So, I encourage all of us to look at this holiday season as a catalyst for being more purposeful in living our lives for others. We are all blessed in immeasurable ways and, at the end of the day, I think we will all agree that the spirit of living our lives to invest in and even transform the lives of others leaves us at a far richer spot than if we just focus on our own little worlds. If you’re a person of Christian faith, this all takes on a much bigger meaning as we consider Jesus’ first commandment to love one another as well as the Great Commission He left us with. But no matter where you are on a faith journey, I think we can all agree that the concept of purposefully leaving the world around us better off due to the fact that we walked it is a rewarding and satisfying thing.