I remember a conversation I had with my wife, before she became my wife. Kaeli and I were attending Portland Bible College. I was at a point in my journey, were I was considering celibacy. I can say now looking back to that conversation, that I was more emotional than rational. A conversation in the college library of all places, about celibacy… with my future wife. Yes, quite ridiculous.
As I tried to explain my position and reasons, she stopped me mid-sentence and said emphatically, “Ashish! Celibacy is the most selfish thing you could ever do!” I couldn’t believe my ears, and also wasn’t ready for her bold passion on the matter. She went on to explain how getting married and raising a family, were an integral part of life.
I can’t recall all the details of the conversation, but I began to realize how selfish I was. Here I was discounting and devaluing the very things that brought me into the world… marriage and family. I also realize how comical this conversation was. I married the only woman that ever talked me off the cliff of celibacy (forgive me for the analogy).
Fast-forward five years to today. I find myself with our little boy, Brennan Ezekiel. My life has radically changed. What was once calm and normal, is now unsettled and chaotic. We are frantically adjusting to this new life with our newborn son. Our schedules are completely whacked, and we’re learning on the fly.
And I wouldn’t change it for the world. I might be frustrated or sleep-deprived, but my heart goes out to the boy that I had a part in bringing to this earth. He’s handsome and wonderful, and we are so in love with him. He’s my boy, my firstborn, he’s our son…
And a couple thoughts hit me…
More Than Just Me
Life is not about me. It never was. When I look at myself as a husband and father, in what I do as a youth pastor, and in everything I give my time an energy to as a person, I realize that it’s about more than just me. It’s about other people… and that’s quite alright. It’s actually healthy and normal.
We live in a culture that’s all about ourselves. Everything is about me, what I can have, why I should have it, and how I can get it. There is a sense that anything and everything revolves around me.
What people don’t realize is that when life is all about you, you live blind, alone, and cold. Everything and everyone needs to serve a purpose, and that would be yours. You live so focused on yourself, that the world around you is seen through your narrow, self-focused perspective. You are blinded by your own ambitions, alone and isolated as you care little for others, and cold as you shrewdly calculate your decisions and others.
And then you get to be a certain age and you begin to wonder. How different would your life had looked life if you had stayed faithful to your wife, or showed up to your kid’s games, or actually cared about your friends more? What if you actually lived for someone else, and not just for yourself? How different would your life have looked?
More Than Just Now
Life is not just about now, or the moment. It’s more about a process and a journey that you’re on. You live in the moments, between the tension of your past and future.
But our culture is all about now. People often forget their past and never hope for their future. Our culture encourages the fulfillment and expression of now. We quickly acquire and discard, all for the moment we find ourselves in. We disregard the promise we should fulfill, or discredit our character for the thrill of illicit passion. Just like a reckless Esau, so many have sold their precious birthright to Jacob for a sorry bowl of soup.
And you begin to wonder how different life would look like if you consulted the wisdom of the past, and built forward with the goal of your future. So many people live like thrill-seeking drug addicts, moving from experience to experience, fulfillment to fulfillment.
A Different Kind Of Legacy
Some people are like giant trees that are impressive, wide, and offer shade for many all around. They are noticed, cherished, and celebrated. And just like Jesus says in his Beatitudes, they have already received their reward in full. Their reward is locked up, stuck in the life of that tree.
Other people are like fruitful trees that are pruned, seasoned, and growing. They aren’t always considered impressive and sometimes hardly noticed. All they faithfully do is produce fruit. They are like the person that Jesus speaks of, where your left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Their reward is not in their impressiveness, but in their fruitfulness. That is their success.
It is better to be known for the fruit you produce, than for how impressive a tree you are. Impressive trees make great national parks, while fruitful trees feed a nation.
Don’t let your life be all about you or your moment. Let your life be lived for others, for their moments. Be known, not for how great your are, but how great you make the people around you.
Pursue fruitfulness not impressiveness, as you live for others and their moment.