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Free to be

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin reminds us, "The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others." He also reminds us that growing old is like being punished for some kind of crime we definitely did not commit! While he is best known as a philosopher of an era gone by, he obviously had a pretty good sense of humor, as well! I don't know about you, but 'giving myself' to others has become easier as I have grown older. I think we get a little less 'self-important' as we age. We find the value in others and we see how much they are a tremendous blessing in our lives. It isn't that we need to 'put ourselves out there' any longer - we are content to be a blessing in the lives of another.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (Luke 6:31-34)

What part of yourself have you given away lately? Your time? Your talent? Your elbow-grease? We can all think of times when we have been 'called upon' to lend a hand or be someone's ride to an important appointment. I am asking you to consider the actions that are not those you have been 'called upon' to do for someone else. Consider those you did without ever having to be asked - those are the ones that really reflect having given yourself to another - not out of duty or obligation, but out of love and service. God is most honored by these actions.

In our youth it was very easy to be so 'self-consumed'. We found our need to advance in our careers, create a solid family unit, and even 'get places' in life took a whole lot of our focus. I think God gives us so much energy and creativity in our youth because he knows we have the stamina to back up that drive. In our older years, we take time to actually enjoy what has been created. Retirement doesn't have to be a time to just sit back and relax. I know a good many retirement aged individuals who still are quite active in their community and are giving back in ways they couldn't even think about in their youth.

I am soon to retire from a very rewarding career in nursing and in looking back over the years, I see how God has used my talents and my drive. Others that know me well think I am a little bit crazy to retire 'so young', but I have to admit - - - I am looking forward to a new era in my life. I hope to explore some areas of interest such as photography, web design, and my woodworking skills. As you can imagine, my days will be 'different', but they won't be empty. I won't be 'driven' to accomplish things - I will be 'free' to accomplish them. Maybe this is the difference God is looking for when we think about how we can be a blessing in another's life - not being 'driven' or 'compelled' to do it, but doing it because we are 'free' to do so! Just sayin!

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