Not too long ago I had coffee with a friend who “spends” her life making the lives of others better. She “gives away” what she has–her time, her money, her talents and, most importantly, her love.
We all choose to use our resources differently. Hopefully, we’re able to spend them where our hearts are. There are people I know who invest very little in their homes because they spend whatever money they have creating experiences. Others use their funds to purchase beautiful art or enjoy gastronomic feasts. Some people spend their time, money and energy creating a home that feeds their souls. There are folks who live frugally so that they can support a particular cause that pulls at their heartstrings, and I’ve often seen people, who have very little financially, give a huge share of what they DO have to help others. There are no right or wrong answers, because it’s all so personal.
This past summer, Larry and I, with our friends Nancy and Rich, did a volunteer stint at a community fundraiser. We worked in a building selling food and we manned the front, taking orders, yelling back what we needed and collecting money. There was a couple in the “kitchen” area preparing the food. The man was retired and SPENDS the majority of his time volunteering for many local charities. In addition, he contributes a lot of his own money. Listening to him rattle off his obligations for the week was really inspiring. The thing is, it made him happy. He didn’t “need” anything so he was giving away everything he had.
My friend, Linda, is part of an organization called VAST- Valley Against Sexual Trafficking. Where I live in The Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, most people wouldn’t even think about issues like sex trafficking, but knowing what I do now, it’s a major issue. Linda is “semi-retired” from her work as a psychologist, and spends as many hours as most people do in a full-time career on the cause she is so passionate about. Her desire is to be an abolitionist, a warrior for God, a protector of innocent. She IS a change agent in our world.
Another friend, named Dick, is continually expanding his circle of not-for-profit volunteerism. He’s involved with a local inner city school, he runs a “Crop Walk” to raise money for food for those who don’t have enough to eat, he works at a local mission preparing lunches for those less fortunate than most of us, and the list goes on. Dick is sixty-seven years old and runs circles around folks half his age. He too cares not only for his friends and family, but for others whose voices may not always be heard.
Thinking about people like Dick and Linda, makes me realize that, however great my intention, I don’t “give back” as much as my spirit calls me to do. I get caught up in the “immediate things of this world”–career (necessary for most of us), family, friends and passions, and lose sight of what else I could be doing.
A commodity is something of value or use. Time and money are two commodities that we control. We can “spend” them in whatever way we choose. We know we have a certain amount of money and most of us probably consider how best to use it, but we don’t often think of time as a “currency of life”.
A few weeks ago I was driving to an appointment at a client’s home. The GPS was directing me to cross a familiar four-lane bridge. As I started across, I counted seven police cars lined up in the outside lane, lights on, all of the officers out of their cars. When I got closer I saw that there was a man standing on the other side of the railing apparently ready to jump off the bridge, several hundred feet above the river. As soon as I got home that evening, I checked the news to see what happened and found out that when he leaned forward the officers were able to grab him and, likely, save his life. I didn’t know that, however, when I got to the client’s home. I was shaken up and couldn’t get him out of my mind. For any one of a multitude of reasons, that young man had decided that his life was no longer worth living. Maybe he has a mental health issue. Maybe he has physical challenges. Maybe he’s over-his-head in debt or heartbroken or lonely or scared. Or, perhaps in HIS reality, his life had no value. I often think about the image I saw that afternoon. Human life is fragile. Human life is fleeting. Human life is impermanent.
Don’t wait to live.
Too often, death surprises us when we least expect it. It creeps in, some would say, “like a thief in the night”. I would say it’s more like, “the guest we always knew would show up, but often the one we never prepared for”.
When we’re there, at the brink between this world and the one we go to next,
it’s too late to “look less at the TV and more at the people in our lives”.
It’s too late to say “I’m going to right those wrongs”.
It’s too late to “work less and talk to the kids more”.
It’s too late to “spend more time with those we love”.
It’s too late to “put down the cell phone and be in the moment”.
It’s too late to “do more good in this world”.
Time and money; money and time–currencies we trade now that will one day, in the blink of an eye, have no value. What are we doing with what we have? In our homes, whether we live alone, with a partner, a parent, a child or a house full of people we can make choices. We can make a difference. We can positively impact those around us. We can choose how we make the journey from here to there more about what really matters.
We can choose how to “spend” our lives.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #33. Get up ten minutes earlier so you don’t have to start the day in a rush; I know…easier said than done, but being frazzled before the day’s even really begun just leads to stress and anxiety!