Tag Archives: Self Giving

Make It Smooth

“Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill will be made low. The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” (See Isaiah 40: 1-11)

We’re so used to good roads in the United States that the concept of making a straight highway and leveling mountains is lost on us. When I lived in Central America for a summer I came to appreciate the roads and highway system we have here unlike I ever have before.

This concept of making a highway for God comes up again and again during Advent. If you’ve had the opportunity to observe a highway being built through hills and mountains, suddenly the awesome task of making a straight road comes into perspective!

This makes me think about the obstacles and “rough places” that are still within me, or the obstacles that I either place in another’s way, or don’t help remove. Think of your partner at home, or another family member or friend. Think of the poor, the less fortunate. How could I be of help in removing some of the obstacles that people have in their lives and making life even a little bit easier for them? And, conversely, what rough places and obstacles are still within me that hinder me from living life just a little more fully?

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Making A Difference

Part of this season is about giving, making a difference in the lives of those in need, or the community in general. I was driving to work today and came across a busy intersection at which were cones set up and people walking up and down the street taking donations for a cause. I was heartened by the fact that these people actually took time out of a free day to do something good that would benefit other people, people that they may not even know. This is one small example of how a meriad of people give of their time for the good of others or the community in general.

Advent is about making known the presence of God to others. Its about incarnating the presence of God. It’s about God with skin. Experiencing the presence of God through our prayer is good indeed, but sometimes we need God with skin. We need the touch and comfort of another. And we are called to be that for others.

“Strengthen the hands that are feeble,

Make firm the knees that are weak,

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:

Be strong, fear not!”

(See Isaiah 35: 1-10)

We are, each of us, a Word of God spoken in time with a mission, a purpose. How can you make a difference in someone’s life today?

 


It’s Not About Happiness

It’s Not About “What Makes Me Happy”

If our main concern in life is being happy, happiness, ironically, will always allude us.

How often we run after illusive “happiness.” Parents want their children to be happy. We often hear people say “Whatever it takes to make you happy,” or “whatever it takes to be happy.” How often we think, if I just had a different partner or if he behaved differently, or if I just get this thing, or if I have sex with this person, or if I get this boyfriend or girlfriend, or if I get this job, . . . then I will be happy.

Life is not about being happy. However, I do believe God wants us to be joyful. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is about ME, it is predominantly concerned with the self, the ego. We seek after this or that to make us happy and the happiness is fleeting. Then we’re on to the next thing. How often we see this in relationships. We look at the other to make us happy. Over time, if that continues to be our main concern, our partner fails in making us happy; and so our heart and our eyes begin to roam elsewhere. And in the process of running after our happiness, we can do a lot of harm to ourselves and others. The grass always looks greener somewhere else. But is it?

Joy, on the other hand, does not emanate from self concern but from concern for others. The most joyful people I know are those who are self giving and concerned for the welfare of others. Their lives aren’t devoid of pain, or moments of sorrow, but their presence exudes joy because they carry within themselves a realization that their lives are making a difference in this world and ultimately that’s what gives life a sense of meaning. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said in order to find ourselves, we’ve got to loose ourselves. That is, stop running after this or that that you think will make you happy, stop thinking so much about yourself and you will discover deep joy.

We live in a society that screams an opposite message, a message that we need something new, this or that thing, person or place in order to be happy; and we are held in a state of perpetual adolescence instead of growing into mature, loving people and discovering what true happiness is about.

Do you want to be happy? Do something for someone. Happiness is concerned with what I can get from life. Joy comes when my concern becomes not so much what I can get from life, but what I can give to life!