• James O'Connell

Stealing Life


Your life is a commodity. Every second, every ability, every relationship, it’s all a commodity. It’s someth precious you have that is yours to invest with or waste. It’s easy to forget the value of what we have. It’s easy to compare what we don’t have against what others have. It’s in moments of stress that we often evaluate the true value of something.

I remember when one of kids became very ill. As I laid on the hospital bed with them, my perception of what was really valuable was being refocused. The character flaws we were trying so hard to fix in our kids seemed so insignificant. The bad choices they had made seemed so inconsequential. I became grateful for them in a way I never had. Fortunately our kids ended up healthy. When I get truly frustrated with my kids, I look back on that moment and it gives me direction. I take a deep breath and realize the big deal I am facing isn’t really a big deal and things will probably turn out fine. I choose to relax without losing site of the goal of character formation in my kids. This often leads to my own character formation.

I often hear people doing the same with their future end of life. They imagine their last moments and try to imagine if they wish they would have invested more into the decision they are currently making or if they would have wished they cared less. Perspective about the true value of our life gives an incredible focus.

Steve Jobs once said that death was the best motivator. In hindsight we now know that he was carrying a terminal illness on his shoulders and it reshaped his company, his vision, and his personal life.

One last example, as I have spent time around grieving families, it’s not uncommon for me to hear people say they feel like their loved one was taken from them. It’s an understandable feeling. We feel the loss of our loved one in a very close, interconnected way. When their life is removed from us, the formula of community we have built beomes unbalanced. Widows commonly share the feeling of losing a spouse is like losing an limb. (I often wonder how they’re qualified to make that connection.) When someone that close to you that is tightly intergrated into your life suddenly goes missing, we can imagine it’s like trying to do our normal life with a leg or arm missing. It’s no wonder that in cases of homicide there are intense emotions. We have a person to target all of our intense pain.

So what? We are stewards of our life, a precious commodity to be invested wisely. Moments of reflection about the value of our life are to be pursued. Solomon said it’s better to go to a house of morning than feasting (Eccl. 7.12). Lets take this one step further and contemplate the role we play in valuing others. Obviously this affects how we see others and teaches us to look for a person’s value instead their faults or what they can give us. On a deeper note, this also teaches us that one of the best investments we can make into others is to improve their perception of their value. What would humanity look like if everyone valued the truly valuable things about their life and orientated their life’s actions to live accordingly. What if we saw our insults and division as stealing life from others? What if we could live with an acute vision of the true value of all we met? If we could, would probably look like Jesus!

#SpiritualFormation #Parenting #Grief

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