Life can be measured in a number of ways—in achievements, accolades or accomplishments, or even in friendships or tragedies. The latter is harder to define, but is a reality many have to live with.
I recently attended a memorial service for a family friend this past week. Unfortunately, we got to the service about 30 minutes late, and by the time we found a parking spot, the church was filled to standing room only. As I stood up the back listening to the minister speak about the life of my friend, I couldn't help but contemplate the finality of life.
Life is as real as death will ever be. As Jesus says, worrying is not going to add a single hour to our lives. Yet life is often filled with uncertainty, and I'm not just talking about the future. Culture itself is pervaded with consumerism and what we can and can't do to please people. But, as a reminder of what life can be if it is lived well, we often turn to those who have gone before to help us become what we are in the present.
The power of mentoring
When we look to many of what we might call our 'mentors'—or even our best friends or confidants—it is interesting to examine what we have in common, even if it is only our mutual friendship.
When I first started my undergraduate business degree, I didn't know anyone in the lecture hall or even why I was there. I joined a student group on campus where everyone kept talking about this guy who was mentoring first year students. Everyone had something good to say about him, but I had never met him, so I didn't think I needed a mentor.
However, a few days later I got a call from him asking to meet me. I promptly forgot about the call and went to class. But his persistence intrigued me, so I reluctantly agreed to meet him. Several years later, we still have a great friendship, and he played an important role in recommending me to my master's program and ultimately earning me a scholarship to grad school in California.
It's funny how we often like to live vicariously through someone else, or at least we think it would be nice if we could. Whether it is our favourite celebrity, friend, or a random stranger, it is fascinating to think about putting on someone else's shoes for a day.
Learning to live your own life
While I was studying overseas in the US students were encouraged to go on a retreat to Big Bear, a popular spot for travellers overlooking the mountainous ranges of Southern California.
I decided to join a small group of students on the retreat, and we ended up taking a three hour road trip to our cabin in the woods. On one of our trips into town, we were trudging through the icy snow when I spotted a sign just inside a storefront: 'We buy things we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't even like.'
Many people share this sentiment in their daily living, trying to please everyone but themselves. This can become a slippery slope if we aren't careful to consider what life should really be about.
Our existence within our society, our culture, and even in this world, is indeed finite. Whether or not we choose to accept it, we all will one day end up facing up to our choices and the life we've lived.
The finality of life doesn't have to deaden our feelings to ourselves or the lives of those around us. In fact, we can choose to live our lives with the knowledge that we are made for more than mere fantasy or chasing our own dreams, but rather to fulfill a purpose far greater than what our eyes can see.
A third-culture-kid born in Australia to Indian parents, Joseph recently returned from California where he was studying theology, and has been working for the US Center for World Mission; his love of books and writing has now drawn him to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html