Somewhere in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?”
Recently I’ve been pondering my vocation…and not really that seriously because in my head, “I have time”. I actually thought I had some things figured out a few months ago before grad school hit me, and then some things changed. And really, what changed isn’t a matter of logistics or possibility, but more so a matter of scope.
I live in sin you see. Most specifically I live in the sin of giving from my profit. I give from my excess and not from my need when it comes to the work of my soul. And somehow I know that I can get away with it.
It’s a hard sin to live while being a so called “social justice advocate”. And yet, I still live within the realm of possibility, that I might change my ways and follow my source of authenticity. However, each day I keep choosing the well-traveled groove that is familiar…that is, what is planed, plotted and just edgy enough not to get called out on.
But there have been times, when I was closer to living fully while being lost in the process…
A few years ago, I lived in the small country of El Salvador. Before that I lived in Belize, Guatemala and even Detroit. There is something in me that loves an underdog, and each of these places takes a prize in my heart for being just that….
I could explain all the things I did in those places. I could recite stories, tell jokes about my friends, show pictures and even give a few lessons learned for the ride home. But few people hardly ever ask me what really happened to me there. They don’t even necessarily know that something DID happen. And sometimes I think that’s because I don’t always live as though I have been changed.
To put a statement on my experiences with the poor of those beautiful places would be trivializing. And yet, it all boils down to Jesus’ words in Luke.
I lost my life.
I lost the life I thought I might have, back when I was a little more than wet behind the ears. I lost my life as I rode busses in the countryside and ate food that I knew would make me sick. I lost my life in worship, the daily expression of my love for God and humanity AND the faith filled breaking of the bread on Sunday morning. I lost my life when talking to my taxi driver about human rights before he makes his trip to the US. I lost my life when I took deep breaths and realized that I was meant to struggle in the midst of suffering. And I really lost my life when I actually thought I could do something about it.
I am not trying to say that I am going to heaven. Nor am I trying to point out any good deeds worthy of praise. However, I am trying to hold myself accountable in some sort of authentic way. I am trying to reclaim my soul, which I apparently lost in transit…somewhere between here and arrogance.
I say “arrogance” because I thought I had my soul all along. I thought I was committing people, places and experiences to memory as if to continually lose my life. But I’ve been going through the motions of being a good…..(fill in the blank).
But I haven’t forfeit myself just yet.
I still have those moments of remembering. There are books that I am reading now that have been nudging at my heart. And there are people here who are starting to understand a little bit of the fabric of who I am and meant to be. And, like any good grad student, I am thinking about my future.
I think about working for change. I think about being present to people. I think about working with migrants and refugees…the poor…children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. I think about working with the rich too. And I think about working with myself…letting my heart change for something greater than the parameters of these few thoughts.
Today I heard this Gospel in Luke four separate times. It wasn’t until the fourth time that I realized I heard it at least one other time earlier in the day….later to realized it was more. Apparently I wasn’t listening until just now, and I needed the extra emphasis.
I hope to consistently lose my life…even here in the comfortable confines of social justice graduate school living. And I hope that someday my soul will meet my praxis in the ways I have always dreamed.