Perhaps one of the most painful things we experience in our lives is giving up the things we value. The pain can come in all manner of forms and so too the motivations. Is this pain something we should be avoiding or should we accept it as a part of life?
Values and why we hold on
While giving away possessions can be hard, there are things which are still harder to let go of. Our goals and ambitions in life, whether they be related to wealth, love, influence or pleasure, these are much harder to pass up. In our aspirations and desires we trace out an image of who we are. This image is a guide as we tread through our moments.
This image shapes our mind and shades our eyes. We rarely see and think of the world around us without the illumination of our self picture. Should we try to be self aware? Should we try and embrace who we are, as we are? Or, should we work to shape ourselves into something else? Should we give up parts of our self image in order to focus and control our view of ourselves and the world around us?
Giving away, the good
There are easy examples to consider. In search of pleasure we often find ourselves in pursuit of destructive behaviours. If left unchecked, our search for pleasure can all too easily have a fall-out effect for friends and family and even those we don't know. As our hunger grows for what we desire our vision narrows onto the focus of our goal, drawing us on.
We often need great pain to open our eyes and the help of others to help us give away the part of our image which holds us on our destructive course. Some aspirations should be watched more closely than others, so we do not mislead ourselves. Given the destructive outcomes, there are certainly some desires which are worth giving up, for the freedom we gain.
Giving away, the painful
Not every choice to give away a part of ourselves is pleasant. Giving away the potential to realise a goal can be the most painful. To give away a future isn't easy, only something larger in our image can pull us along this path. In moments of choice, between two goals, we can observe parts of our image, revealing the true proportions of our motivations.
We often find ourselves talking to others in these times of crisis, even though others can't see the problem exactly as we do. Perhaps the difference in vision between someone else and yourself is of great importance. What can we learn from the benefits of listening to others?
A constant transformation
In our life we are constantly altering the image of ourselves, made of our goals, aspirations and desires. How do we direct that change in what we value?
A common thread outlined in our discussion of giving away is the role of friends and people around us. Surround yourself with people who share your most important vision and you will reinforce each other’s view.
The opposite must be considered then too, that of people who hold different values. These people can be just as valuable. While single minded determination can achieve a great deal, if you do not also cultivate an awareness of other people’s views it is near impossible to care for them with any level of understanding.
Surrounding ourselves with others inevitably leads to another question; what about the change in the people around us? Here we can look to the gift of writing, although even while an author's perception of what they have written may change the moment the pen has left the page, the words still remain unchanged. As such they provide the best anchor we have from which to draw reference.
In the Christian walk
I find it fascinating that these structures have been enshrined in Christian fellowship, although not always practiced, since its inception.
The practice of discipleship reflects a gathering of people who share a common goal.
We are told to look out for and care for others, talking of the joy we have in the gospel, engaging regularly with people who do not share our goals.
We regularly must turn to the Bible to keep each other honest, otherwise we may drift away from the true image and goal laid out through Christ.
Take some time then to consider where your desires and aspirations are leading you. What image do you see?
Sam Gillespie is a composer, programmer and PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales.Sam Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html