Ask me about not thriving and I can offer you a blue print. Thriving is something that demands some attention and exploration. Now that I’m certain what not thriving means, I’m ready to thrive. I shall not thrive alone. I have not suffered alone. There are many like me and many who are not. Yet, we are still bound together.
Living in a world full of happenstance, crisis and chaotic luck isn’t easy. I look for causes and reasons and sometimes they don’t exist. It’s easy to blame others. It’s easy to blame myself.
Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that some people also blame the down-on-their-luck types for their own troubles. This is a slippery slope. Blame doesn’t solve anything. Compassion does.
Yesterday, I listened to someone blame the uninsured for their own problems. For those of us living outside the boundaries of “normal”, options that others take for granted don’t exist for a huge variety of reasons Most of those reasons have nothing to do with problems of our own making.
When I start worrying about what others are entitled to, I remind myself of the women coughing up blood in the “poor clinic.” She was consistently refused treatment at the hospital and at the clinic and had spent 3 months going back and forth looking for help. In between blood-filled coughs, she cried quietly. I wanted to be repulsed but I could not. It didn’t matter if she was a two-bit prostitute who was a heavy drug user. In that moment she was a human being who needed care. In my heart, it felt criminal to deny her this.
I don’t remember what I said to her. I just knew that I had to make a human connection. I had to remind her that some one cared and while I couldn’t fix her problems, I could acknowledge them and give her a few seconds of dignity and human respect. That was several years ago. I doubt she is still alive.
For me, the only path to thriving is found in a path that acknowledges and accepts the needs of others and that honors my need to be of service. No one thrives in a vacuum. We share our lives, our time on earth, with billions of other people, none of which will walk this way again. The needs of others affects me. They pull against the intricate web of life and whether I want to or not, I feel those tugs.
It isn’t my place to judge another’s worth and whether they are deserving of food or healthcare or. . . Am I so good so pious that I deserve something that others do not? Isn’t their need reason enough to reach out? When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, did he feed some and not others? No, he simply fed the hungry.
Some times I fear that people get so bogged down in their political opinions that they leave their humanity at the door. We want to be right and we fail to be moral. We justify our refusal to help by citing the abuses of the few. We define the effectiveness of a system or a bureaucracy by what it fails to do. We forget that nothing and no one is perfect and demand perfection in a world where it simply doesn’t exist.
I’ve wasted too many years trying to hide behind my imperfections, terrified that some one would see me for what I really am: flawed, imperfect, some times selfish, judgmental, harshly critical. When I turn that fear inside out and aim it at others, we all lose. No one thrives, least of all, me.
To thrive, I need to keep my eyes wide open and my heart more open still. I will never forget the rich soil of failure that cracked my life wide open and showed me a better way. It’s time to thrive. I won’t thrive alone.