If I were to title the book of my days it would be called Life: a Quest for Self-Improvement.
I’ve spent countless hours attempting to being thinner, stronger, healthier, smarter, faster, more disciplined and more spontaneous. I’ve created morning routines for productivity and evening routines for rest. I’ve listened to podcasts on how to have a happier, more extraordinary, organized, less stressed life. I’ve invested thousands of dollars and hours studying and practicing nutrition, fitness, and weight loss and just as many on being okay with my weight. I’ve fasted, cleansed, juiced, purged my house of high fructose, trans fat, sugar and wheat, sworn allegiance to green drinks, keto, Whole30, high protein, vegetarianism, and bulletproof coffee. I even gave up caffeine during a particularly dark period in the 90s. I’ve journaled, meditated, said mantras and created countless affirmations and calendaring systems to Be My Best Self and Live My Best Life.
What a waste.
What kind of impact could I have had on others if I hadn’t been so focused on fixing myself?
Why are we here? Is it to be the best human we can be? The best American? The best Christian? What we consider ‘best’ in our context is not what’s considered best in India or to people in prison or for the Sentinelese – people without access to technology, or academics, or Pinterest. Shouldn’t the ideal human life translate to any human living anywhere? Is the primary goal of a humanity to create for themselves a beautiful life? Or do we have a higher calling?
I believe our purpose in the world is to usher in shalom everywhere, every day, to everyone.
The word shalom is rich in meaning – it can be described as wholeness, flourishing, soundness, well-being, justice. These are the things we, and by we I also mean I, should be going after – not for ourselves, but for the life of the world.
Theologian Dr. Neil Plantinga describes shalom as, “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight…” God wants us to flourish. He created humans to give him glory and we do that by living a rich, full life, pursuing wisdom and knowledge and growing to be more like Jesus. We are to create beautiful things and make beautiful homes and be healthy and fit, but our motivation must be for the betterment of the world.
Our home should be a sanctuary for weary souls, not a fortress to keep the world out. Our bodies should be temples of the Holy Spirit, not Instagram idols. Our dreams should not be ‘our’ dreams because our lives are not our own. We did not create ourselves. We did not create the heavens or the earth or all that is in it. Even if you don’t believe in intelligent design, you can’t take credit for lobsters or sloths or the Aurora Borealis.
I believe a supreme being, God, created the world not so we could leave a legacy of a life well lived, but to bring him glory. Followers of Christ and The Church exist to manifest God’s glory to humans and the heavenly realms by being generous with our lives, loving our enemies, forgiving those who have hurt us, sacrificing our time and talents to bring peace and prosperity to others.
Seek justice, love mercy. Forget your face, wash feet.