There is a dimension in your life that is fundamental to your daily needs, fundamental to your sense of contentment, and fundamental to your utmost life. That dimension is what connects you to the world you see and the world you cannot see. It allows you to accept the promise you have been given and to give back from the rewards you’ve achieved. It allows you to live life above and beyond what you could even ask or imagine.
As we reach higher levels of accomplishment, we realize that there are even higher levels, and that those are the ones that take us out of ourselves. The experts tell us that we can’t really become fully human…appreciate beauty, create art, feel compassion and love for others…if we are starving, sick,or without shelter. Our basic needs must be fulfilled, but once those basic needs are met, we are almost compelled to try to make ourselves better.
I believe that a similar thing happens when our basic needs for success, self-acceptance, contentment and faith in the future are also met. For those who have really savored their life, that’s when the impulse is born to reach out to the world and return the what we have been given. We can’t focus on the rest of the world until we’ve fulfilled at least some of our basic personal needs. At the same time, unless we turn our attention to the life beyond ourselves, we will never be fully human and fully alive.
About twenty years ago I used to go jogging in a park near my mother’s house. I often saw a woman walking slowly and with difficulty, usually in old clothes. Some of the neighborhood kids made fun of her, which made me want to make her feel better. So I would say hi as I jogged by, and she would sheepishly say hi back. One day I took it upon myself to ask her how she was doing, and her face lit up because someone was talking to her. I found out her name was Diane, and I asked her where she worked. She told me she had a job in a factory bagging plastic knives, forks, and spoons. When I asked her how much she made, she responded, “Twenty-nine dollars and fifty-eight cents.” I said, “Oh my, that’s a lot! Can you imagine all the things you could do with twenty-nine dollars and fifty-eight cents?”
Two weeks later, I was jogging again and saw Diane. She ran up to me saying, “Guess what?” and pulled out her paycheck. I was a little higher that the last one. She was beaming, and I beamed right back at her. Then every time she’d see me in the park, she would have her paycheck with her, and every time it was a little higher. And she would say, “Can you imagine what I can do with this?”
As the years went on, Diane would begin to look for my children in the park. “Tell your dad how much money I made!” she’d say to them. Her clothes began to look better, and I even saw an improvement in the way she walked. While Diane didn’t receive the greatest treasures (from a world’s viewpoint), she did the best with what she had. And she had given me a great gift. She taught me that living above and beyond is not based on how much you have or what title you carry, but on being grateful, sharing life with others and living life to its fullest.
Ultimately, I believe, a life lived above and beyond your circumstances will always lead you to appreciate the miracle of life in the world and to accept that there must be a Higher Power that has put it together. The variety and richness of the gifts we have been given and the intricate connections between all of us are too amazing for it be an accident.
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
Ephesians 3:20 MSG