How do you define your life? Often, we tend to define it as a series of problem-solving. Every morning when we wake up, the first thing we think of would be the list of action items. Quite often, such action items consist of a series of problems that we have to face and solve.
Throughout the day, it seems we are “alive” only when we face the challenges at hand at the moment of problem-solving. It happens weekly as well. People get excited or depressed every Monday, thinking of various action items on the table. If we are positive, we get excited with them. If we are negative, we might get depressed. We call it “Monday blues.”
It could happen at wider scales as well – not only at the beginning of the day and the week. Even at the beginning of the year, we think about our new year resolutions. Or, in the span of the decades, we could reflect on each critical moment of life, which is supposed to be the beginning of the new chapter of life.
How is your life? Is it a series of problem-solving with various challenges that you struggle continuously, even get overwhelmed?
If you are positive, you could feel better with the fact that you overcome challenges in one way or another. You could congratulate yourself on your achievements or even failures. Everything you go through should feed you to be a very critical part of your identity. You can be proud of that “everything.” If you are negative, then, you might think of life differently. You might feel you have wasted days and years of life. You might think that everything you experience should spoil, even destroy your life. Is that so?
What do you think of your life?
Would you say that life is suffering, or something else? Does the difference rest only on whether you are positive or negative? If we are positive enough, can you say your life is a series of lessons that can be for your growth? If we are negative, you get disqualified, feeling you must change your attitude to make or fake yourself to interpret your life positively?
Let’s contemplate life beyond its surface.
There is nothing wrong for you to be positive to consider everything you experience should be part of your growth and success. Many high achievers in this world have created a series of success philosophies. A long list self-help and pop-psychology books is indeed a part of the thriving industry our ego loves. We all love to hear their stories. If we practice what they teach, we can be as successful as those authors and influencers even by faking ourselves to be like them. We learn a lot from their teachings. As long as we are in this world, we can, and perhaps should follow these rules and principles. That is to say, we should return the coin of Caesar to its owner.
And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.Mark 12:17
Is what belongs to Caesar everything about life? Should we measure our lives only based on the criteria whether we are positive or negative, successful or unsuccessful, qualified or disqualified, and so on, based on the worldly values?
Life is indeed a series of problem-solving with various challenges. By overcoming them, we can certainly grow, and even we could say that God is happy with our achievements. We know the Biblical parable, praising the servants who increased the assets during their master’s absence. It implies that we must maximize our talents to be successful in this world and contribute to the worldly developments. At the end of life, if you could say you have contributed enough to the society you lived and the people you loved, that is the best moment of life.
His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.Matthew 25:23
But then, do those increased talents mean only success in this world? What does it mean to say that the master is back to check your assets? Checking would take place at the last moment of life. Is it too much to say that life is only our temporary shelter as long as we are here in this world? Should the totality of real life be beyond this temporary shelter? Is it too pessimistic to say that life is temporal? In the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), we pray as follows:
- Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
- Give us this day our daily bread.
- And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
- For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
In this prayer, we always start with praising God in heaven and His name. And we pray His will be done in this world as it is in heaven. The prayer reminds us that we should embrace both heaven and earth, and the priority is always His will, which should be the Alpha and the Omega. We humbly hope that we can count each day with our daily bread and keep us from evil. From these lines, I always feel the very transience of life itself. We live in this world in a certain period. Life is indeed short.
Life is short, transient, and yet precious. It is a kind of preciousness that we can only feel from the totality of heaven and earth. Paradoxically enough, success in this world is only secondary or even lower from the perspective of the heaven and earth totality. We don’t have to fake ourselves to be positive. We don’t have to indulge ourselves to be negative. Beyond such dichotomy, life is transient and yet precious. Only then, we can understand how to be grateful genuinely for life. It is beyond a series of problem-solving. It is beyond various challenges we’re supposed to face.
Is life suffering? Are we negative to say so? Or, do we have to be positive to interpret life differently? Neither is the way. Life by itself is what we should be grateful for the very preciousness that we can pray for heaven and earth in counting each day to be thankful for anything about our humble experience.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.Psalm 90:12
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