There is much discussion about losing these days – a large amount lost in retirement accounts, real estate, employment numbers, bank accounts and stock prices.
Unfortunately, too many people equate loss in wealth and possessions with a loss in the quality of life. It is easy to get caught up in disappointment and depression when what we plan and dream for does not come about.
Our lives can appear even worse when we sense that we have failed. Jobs, marriages and important friendships can end; wealth and homes can be lost. All seems hopeless; all we can feel is loss, our dream life gone.
I am almost 50, and looking back, I find that so far I haven’t lived the life I had planned to live when I was younger. Everything was going fine for me until I met someone, fell completely in love and found that somewhere along the way I stopped living my life and started living another, a new life that didn’t center on me but on others.
I don’t remember making a conscious decision to lose the life I dreamed – it just sort of happened. There was always so much to do and so much going on that I gave up what I was planning to do and started doing what needed to be done.
It’s often said how important it is to make time for yourself and to follow your dreams. But in looking back on the life I have had, I don’t think that any of the dreams I held could be more satisfying than the experiences of the undreamt life I live now.
I have been fortunate enough to know or be related to many loving and giving people who spend or spent their lives putting the needs of others ahead of their own. In every instance, these have always been the happiest and most contented people I have known.
Without the examples of so many loving and giving people I might have tried to hold on to my life as I had planned and continued stubbornly clinging to what I desired, attaining possessions or doing simply what I wanted to do.
Only now in hindsight do I realize what I would have missed out on had I lived a life focused on myself instead of joining in the joy of experiencing the love of my wife and children, family and friends.
For those who have never truly loved or known love, the idea of putting the needs of others ahead of their own makes no sense; happiness and fulfillment are still controlled by possessions.
In a way, our lives are ruled by an economic principle: We can’t have it all; something always has to be given up to gain something else.
That is the beauty in losing your life, the life that you always dreamt of. Because when you find yourself living and working for others, your life becomes more satisfying, more rewarding and more beautiful than any life you could have imagined.
At the core of Christianity is the tenet of sacrifice, Christ’s final act of suffering and dying on the cross for us all. The willful, purposeful surrender of His life is the ultimate example of pure unselfish love and a perfect guide to live our lives.
We can never equal that level of sacrifice but we can take comfort in the knowledge that no matter how close or far we come to realizing our dreams on Earth, true life begins when we lose the lives we live now.
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