We’ve all heard about and perhaps have even read books about the grand nature of life, e.g., “The Purpose Driven Life“, by Rick Warren; “Chicken Soup for the Soul“, by Jack Canfield; “Heaven is for Real“, by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, and “The Last Lecture“, by Randy Pausch.
Books like these, present us with an opportunity to change or better comprehend our perspectives about the significance of (our) life, perhaps a deeper meaning or connection with our spirit and overwhelmingly, insight into our human nature. They are, without question, all great reads.
What if I told you, however, that how we die is more important than how we live? Would you immediately disagree? How could this be true? Isn’t death an ending? Why focus on the negative?
Certainly, these are all relevant and valid questions or thoughts about something we know precious little about, yes? Yet, if one views life as an accumulation of knowledge, experience, wisdom and dare I say, faith; well, now you know the purpose of this discussion.
“Have you ever uttered that age-old phrase, “If I had known then what I know now…”? Trust me , you’re not alone. The essence of that quip, is that living life yields much insight into ourselves, our situation, our environment, and the world, as it relates to people and relationships.”
Many factors intertwine to make us who we are today. Among them, our childhood, the location(s) we’ve resided, family, friends, education, information about the world, events, and especially our faith.
I’ve assembled a punch list of 10 factors that influence just how prepared we will be when we die. Prepared, you might ask? For what? Well, prepared for what follows our death, of course. The following net outcomes at the time of our death largely determine our path forward:
- Have we truly accepted Christ as King?
- Have we “Chosen Wisely” using our Free Will?
- How did we utilize our Time on earth?
- Were we motivated in moving toward life or Running Away?
- Did we present ourselves to others in an Authentic fashion?
- Have we developed a sense of Inner Peace?
- How effective were we at dealing with Change?
- Were we in a faithful Mental State?
- Did we consider the Bigger Picture as we made decisions?
- How effectively did we demonstrate Compassion and Love for others?
As evidenced above, when we die is truly irrelevant in the Grand Scheme of our Eternal Existence. The things we accumulated during our lives are likewise meaningless as they remain behind in their entirety.
What matters, when our physical life is distilled, is how prepared were we to die all along the way. Collectively, our priorities, values, mindset and intent represent the bellwether of how we are to be judged, held accountable and projected forward into eternity.
Indeed, it would be a cruel joke if God created us in His image, and then somehow, failed to provide us with the things we truly need to live a prosperous life as a Christian. And the truth of the matter is that each of us has what we need (note: not want) to experience an exceedingly rich and joyful life, if we choose to follow Christ‘s teaching; to avoid sin and love others without reservation.
“Perhaps by design to illustrate and test the construct of faith, God included many resources for us to enjoy. Yet, as our free will would have it, we at times, enjoy too much, obsess too much and exclude what matters too much; to the point we lose focus on what is good, what has been provided and what enriches our soul.”
There are numerous tasks each of us must not only perform, but rather, master, if we are to realize our potential as beautiful and uniquely special children of God. Among the critical few are to identify and develop self-awareness, core values, faith, discipline, compassion, respect and humility.
Collectively, these tasks prepare us to love one another, which is the ultimate end-game of our existence. And make no mistake, we have everything we need in this life to reach that goal, to fulfill our destiny.
It is our use of choice that solely determines the path we pursue, and the extent we realize our future. And a wise choice is to use prayer to seek God’s wisdom, grace and guidance to reveal answers that will lead us into eternity.
The enlightened choice is the one we make when it aligns with God’s will, plan and future. And we possess all the worldly resources necessary to meet His expectations. If only we choose to use what we need and avoid what we don’t. Choose wisely.
Arguably, Denial and Despair are the epitome of darkness. When light evades our thoughts and appears light-years away, denial and despair swoop in to conquer our souls, control our minds and forever shroud our lives in the absence of light; for that is precisely what darkness is defined as, the absence of light.
However, as physics dictates in our physical world, for every Action there is an Equal and Opposite Reaction . This most appropriately applies to Life & Death, Good & Evil, Denial & Acceptance, Despair & Hope.
So, as this hypothesis implies, surely, the mere presence of darkness, all but guarantees the existence of light, if only we open our hearts to its warmth, comfort and enlightenment. Indeed, Light destroys and metaphorically obliterates Darkness.
Regardless of the circumstance, every situation has multiple outcomes as a result of the decisions we consciously and deliberately make as human beings; every second of every minute of every hour, day, week, month and year of our lives.
Denial is the unwillingness to accept the Truth, whether it be our present situation, condition or foreseeable outlook in life. Likewise, Despair, the sister of Denial, saps the heart of self-assurance, comfort and hope. Together, they present a formidable “force”, if you will, that can be difficult to overcome, in the perfect storm. The perfect storm, that is, the world that WE create.
“Faith is the antidote for denial and despair. Faith in the Light, a solution in a sea of transparency adrift amid seemingly hopeless odds; Faith that our lives are worth saving, or better put, that our sacrifices in this life are worthy of eternal redemption.”
As much as each of us indeed creates our own existence and future, to a degree of arguable scope, we are undeniably influenced by others close to us and those that directed our actions, perhaps thoughts, as young children. That said, each of us are ultimately responsible (and accountable) for the lives we choose to create, lead and live.
Without question, overcoming denial and despair takes energy, strength and courage. All three characteristics, however, represent admirable and equally achievable outcomes for everyone. All it takes is spiritual and mental resolve, directing our free will to populate our minds and hearts with positive, healthy and self-fulfilling thoughts.
Bottom line, our lives are mere reflections of our thoughts, tendencies, hopes, fears, behaviors, habits, actions and resilience or will to actualize our spirit and nature. The cup will forever and eternally be both, half empty and half full. It’s simply a matter of to which we afford more energy.An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life… “A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, Which wolf will win?
The old Cherokee simply replied, The one you feed.”
Take the time, to examine your thoughts on a regular and frequent basis. Contemplate your values, apply them to facing dilemmas and solving problems; live a principled life. If you do that, you will live a life of no regrets and more importantly, better prepare your path and enhance the value of your journey toward the sun, the healing Light of the world, into your unique eternity. Be well.
As I reflect today upon my life (as I do daily), I can’t help but become overwhelmed, to the point of tears, with the amazing journey my life has taken, the multitude of paths I have walked; some pleasant and some otherwise. And the simply astonishing events, dare I say miracles, I have personally witnessed; miracles experienced by myself and upon others in my closest circles.
The collective synergy that these emotions of a lifetime have fused in my mind remains unsurpassed and most notably, unquestionable with regard to the authenticity and incomprehensible Power that I have created by faith.
As I’m sure you will attest, each of us are born with the power to think, analyze and critically, choose what to believe. The free will I speak of is not a result of some biological mutation, physical evolution or chemical reaction. Inexplicable by science, this innate ability to exercise our senses and minds and consequently integrate the data into thoughts, beliefs and memories, can only exist as a result of a deliberate plan or design. Indeed, none of us are here by accident… Not a single one of us.
I’ve seen and experienced awe-inspiring behavior by others, words of sacrifice, events beyond coincidence and yes, seemingly impossible outcomes that have unfolded into reality as naturally as a handful of sand blows into the wind and returns to its individually existing millions of granules of silica in a matter of seconds, transparently assimilating back into the environment from which it came forth. Effortless, magnificent and incredibly profound situations revealed by our sight, sound and mind, created without human intervention or prompting, yet relevantly impacting my life.
My point here is that I believe I am quite qualified to speak of my life in this fashion as you would equally be qualified to speak about yours; the clarity and certainty of the events; especially how, when and why they occurred.
This awareness of reality, at least the reality we are allowed to experience and understand, leads me directly to the conclusion that nothing in our lives occur by coincidence or as a result of some random experiential life generator.
“Each and every moment of our mortal lives occurs by design, within a plan and with specific outcomes for which we are to ponder the significance… and most profoundly, as a direct result of our free will to think, do and act as we choose.”
If one wholly acknowledges and accepts this tremendous, yet simple hypothesis, the resulting, inevitable and extraordinarily liberating Power that is created and realized by faith becomes confounding to our sense of logic as human beings. Oh, but how so real it is.
I can only offer to you how stimulating, inspiring and emotionally charged it is to witness life in this active mindset or frame of reference. My being and aura has always been deeply grounded in an unshakable, solid foundation of faith. And with this liberating sense of free will, most certainly, comes an equal amount of responsibility to exercise it with the utmost caution, integrity, compassion and sense of gratitude. To truly and genuinely experience a full life is akin to holding that “Tiger by the Tail”.
The immense energy we create by our minds, when based in a framework of morality, fairness, goodness and compassion, is indeed noble, significant and eternal. I am free to be me, and so it is my wish for you to experience an equally exhilarating sense of peace, joy and gratitude to be free, as you define it; but choose wisely, my friend. Be well.
- The Meaning of Life – How Much Are We Humanly Capable of Understanding? (robrieke.wordpress.com)
- What’s the Belief of Your Mind? (mindbehindtheface.wordpress.com)
- Daily Message… (truthlovepeace.net)
- Living In The Shadows – No More (cerkas.wordpress.com)
- Life’s SOS – Significance of Suffering (cerkas.wordpress.com)
I’ve shared my thoughts about Self-Awareness, Faith, God, the concept of “Being” and Free Will. All somewhat abstract, yet oh so real concepts that define, frame and help us comprehend who we are and what we’re about. One exercise I learned as a high-school student, however, stands out above others in not only communicating to others who we are, but in viewing ourselves through the eyes of others that intimately know us as well as those that do not.
That exercise is writing your own obituary. It may seem morbid at first blush, until you consider what an obituary really is at its core and what it concisely frames for others to see. An obituary is a recounting of someone’s life, the choices they made, the people they associated with, the obstacles they faced and overcame, the items they deemed highest priority, the circumstances they met, the legacy they leave behind and the manner in which they left this reality. It is your biography in condensed form.
In truth, an obituary is so much more than a paragraph in the local newspaper. It is a testimony and story that summarizes and distills the being of a single child of God and communicates how a person prioritized their life and what they emphasized as important. In many ways, it reveals the character and personality of an individual and encapsulates the essence of their being.
Ironically and unfortunately for each of us, it is precisely these bits of information, insight and compassion that would be much better served if they were known by others and in some cases, by us, before we die and leave the world to speak no more.
So, what better way to look at ourselves, our lives, our decisions and priorities than to compose and conduct that symphony of life with our very hands. What is produced as the outcome of the exercise will undoubtedly be an uncanny perception of our being that may or may not reflect who we really think we are.
In essence, it is that Ebenezer Scrooge moment of clarity and introspection, hopefully absent of remorse and abundant with just what value or quality we added to the world by our presence. At best, it will present an argument for personal change in certain areas of our lives that need better alignment with our spirit and soul. Most importantly, it provides that opportunity, that luxury of time for us to recognize and implement that change.
Take the time to recognize who you really are. You may just get the surprise of your life!
- Q&A Tuesday: Where’s The Story? Read The Obituary Pages. (wyzgaonwords.typepad.com)
- What Would You Write in Your Own Obituary? (jenniferjensen.com)
- Obituary Sheds Light on Family Feud in Florida (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Utah man uses obituary to confess indiscretions (news.yahoo.com)
- “Do You Believe In Me Or Not?” (instrument-rated-theology.com)
- Yet To Come (halfpicture.wordpress.com)
- Read Obituaries (brandautopsy.com)
Math has always been an important and intriguing part of my life as I’ve fascinated with the likes of Fibonacci, Archimedes and Pythagoras. In a more easily understood real life context, I’ve learned an inverted fraction is simply flipping the top (numerator) and bottom (denominator) numbers. And, at its most empirical level, a fraction is really nothing more than a visual approach to division.
Viewed through the lens of our existence, our total life is the denominator and how we collectively spend it is the numerator. One of the truths I have discovered in my lifetime is that the world is full of distractions, some as it were, appear to be meaningful aspects of life, while others are inherently recreational in nature.
What happens, however, when these distractions, viewed as a whole, become nearly as large as our existence? Quite logically, they distract us from our real purpose for living in the first place. They consume our existence as the ocean swallows the ship in rough sea whose captain is unable to navigate the turbulent water or the ship that breaks apart as a result of poor construction… or geometry.
As imperfect beings, we have all been driven to the brink of excess by an attraction, dare I say, addiction by the likes of professional sports, education, exercise, social media communication, travel and technology. So much so, that if you take a step back to change your perspective, most will find that nearly 90% or more of our waking moments are spent with non-essential activities, leaving precious little time for self-assessment, introspection, meditation or prayer and self-improvement.
Life happens quickly, lest we forget to “smell the coffee”.
In effect, our distractions have become our life. If you literally break down who we are, the word being; you will find the root of the word is to BE. But, just what does it mean to BE? Among other things, it means to breathe, to communicate, to maintain our health, to work, to play, to relax, to learn, to relate. It’s pretty apparent how easy it truly is to forget to pray, to acknowledge our purpose, to grow in spirit, to care and to become more knowledgeable about our existence, current and future.
There is much to be said for effort directed at maintaining balance in our lives. We all struggle with the stresses of daily living. From a higher plane of thought, however, most of these stresses or stressors, we (ourselves) have created.
Before the world (and our lives) pass us completely and irreversibly by, we need to spend more time on the essence of our BEing… After all, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teilhard de Chardin.
The life we create is, after all, of our own free will. We must all choose wisely.
- Teilhard de Chardin (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Writer of Destiny: Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (writingyourdestiny.com)
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams ebook downloads (soeeiobr.typepad.com)