The Family

The Family

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Thought for the Day

"The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well"
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson~

WHAT????  I know right now you must be thinking...."She can't be serious!  What does she, or rather Ralph, mean that the purpose of life is not to be happy??  Or maybe you're not wondering that, I don't know.  But I do know that to most Americans, perhaps most people in our modern world, this thought that we are NOT MEANT to be happy might come as quite a shock.  After all, our world, our culture, bombards us daily with the notion that life is ours for the taking, grab the bull by the horns darn it and do everything in your power to make your life as happy and content as possible! 

We have commercials aimed at getting us to buy products that supposedly will make us happy-- from fashion to travel, makeup, weight loss programs, depression medication and online dating sites promising us the perfect partner is just right around the corner.  We have gadgets to make us happy. Things that do everything for us in the blink of an eye so we can have more time to........ relax and be happy!   You get my point.

So for many of us, surrounded by this notion of happiness being an entitlement, the idea of not doing things to make ourselves happy, or better yet doing things that do not make us happy, seems absurd.  What is Mr Emerson really trying to get at here??

Well first of all, he  is not stating that being happy in and of itself is bad.  Rather he is saying that this happiness is not and should not be our main goal or purpose in life.  When we allow happiness to be our end-all and be-all, we turn into nothing more than self-serving snobs.  It's true isn't it?  Who of us can think back to someone we knew, or know, whose main priority is themselves?  Not usually the first person we think to go to when we are in need.... is it?  When we make happiness our goal, we tend to skip things that are uncomfortable, or things that cause us pain.  We tend to miss out on some really valuable lessons in life and really valuable contributions we could have made to the lives of others because we never considered anyone else's needs, or how we could fulfill them.  We were too concerned about ourselves.

So although happiness is not bad, it should not be our focus or our main priority.  So what should??  Well according to Mr Emerson in his infinite wisdom, it should be to be useful, honorable and compassionate, and to have our lives show that we have lived and lived well.  Useful.  Honorable.  Compassionate.  NOT selfish.  Self-serving.  Uncaring.

We need to show that we have lived well.  What does that mean exactly?  That we have lived lavishly.... or that we have lavished affection upon others?  That we have gained material wealth...... or that we have gained a wealth of knowledge about others and their needs?  That we have put our faith in ourselves and what we want... or that we have had abundant faith in God to turn us into the people we need to be and to give us what HE wants?  That we have been served.... or that we have humbled ourselves to serve others?

If we choose to listen to and live by Mr Emerson's statement and ignore the hedonistic ways of our culture, how will we do it?  How can we show others that our lives are not ones devoted to ourselves, but rather to the needs of many?  We each have our paths.  We each have our passions.  We each have our own talents and gifts.  How will we use them to life "a life worth living" as he says above?

Well I can only tell you my way.  It is not everyone's way but I feel it is mine.  It is through adoption.  It is through trying my darnedest to change one young life at a time.  It is by stepping out of my comfort zone, perhaps giving up some (or a lot) or what I want and focusing on someone else's need.  Trust me, this is no easy task.  I am certainly no perfect person.  I love material goods as much as anyone else, and I am certainly selfish with my time and energy more than I'd like to admit.  But I am trying.  And this is all any of us can do.  This is my way to do just that.... try.

Here is a post from another blog which pretty much sums up my heart.  This is a post from the blog "The Journey" which I have a link to here on my page under "Blogs I Like" and which I highly encourage you to read:

"And every single day, it is worth it. Because ADOPTION IS GOD’S HEART. He sets the lonely in families. Adoption is the reason that I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to “help these poor kids out.” I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it."

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