I have a sordid respect for death. I’m not fond of it and I never find myself doing cartwheels when it happens, but I respect death for what it is: an inevitable life event that is expected. I pine over the unexpected loss of young people and when someone very dear to me passes, but I tend to quickly come to terms with the reality of death’s existence during those times. Death, always brings with it thoughts about life – my life in particular – and what is being done with the little time I have on this earth.
This week my family was faced with the daunting reality of losing two persons. My aunt who was 61 died suddenly from a flesh eating bacteria last Saturday and my 19 year-old cousin (not her daughter) was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Monday night. Three days, two deaths and here I am thinking about life and how I wish never to exist.
Existence to me is dwelling in a space where my life revolves around my family, my home, my job, school at times and paying bills. Existing is working continuously while counting down for the weekend and doing only what is necessary to ensure I’m comfortable. Existing is being caught in a monotonous cycle of doing the same things on different days without realising that my life has no real impact on issues and people outside of my immediate circle. To me, existing means never stepping outside of my comfort zone or becoming involved in projects that would benefit others more than it benefits me. To exist is to live a selfish life only considering one’s own realities and never embracing the possibility of being more than what is required.
That’s not what I want for my life. I wish never to be caught in a daunting cycle of existence, instead my life should be lived. I should travel and gain many experiences away from home. I should do volunteer work and be motivated by factors other than wealth. I should give freely of the knowledge I have and seek to help people become better than I am and achieve more than I have. My life should involve encouraging others and loving people genuinely no matter the cost. My life should be lived!
Every time I think about Christ and the way He lived I marvel at the example He set by moving beyond existing and embracing a life well lived despite the consequences. I love how Jesus developed relationships and cared deeply for people even though he knew His time on earth was limited. I love how He gave all that He had to people whom he knew would turn against Him. It’s fascinating when Lazarus died he was able to connect to those who mourned and cry with them (John 11:1-16) and when an adulterous woman was brought before Him how rather than condemning her, he defended her although he knew it would make her accusers angry (John 8:1-11). Or when the little children came to see Him and his disciples were about to turn them away how He made time for them (Matthew 19:13-15) and my favourite of all, how he gave people more than they expected when He was in their presence, as in the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
It’s not enough to simply exist and do only what is necessary for our existence. We should live and be impactful. Our lives should represent more than a mundane list of necessities where we never give more of our selves than required. We should use some of our free time to mentor and encourage younger people or to sit with the elderly. We should volunteer for community projects and give of our resources to those less fortunate. We should speak up for the oppressed and take time out to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. When we die we should have had a positive impact on the world surrounding us. We all have the potential to do more than what is required, we can each be selfless with our time, and love, and most importantly, our God. Christ’s example was to do more than necessary to positively affect those who came into contact with Him; we should follow His lead. I respect death and when it is time for me to face it I pray that I would not have simply existed but I would have lived and made a positive impact on the world around me.