Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Life Worth Fighting For

Yesterday, one of my friends posted on her Facebook page a simple question: Is your life worth fighting for?

What a question.

Of course it is, most of us would say. And it is, in the sense that most of us would rather have our lives than not. But there's life--in the sense of being alive or dead--and there's YOUR life.

How hard would you really be willing to fight, not just for being alive, but for the life you have? If we have a life-threatening illness, we will do everything within our power, for as long as we can, to continue to be alive. At some point it doesn't work anymore. We're too sick, too broken, or in too much pain. But if the future is threatened, and we can, we fight.

But what if we were not just talking about the state of being alive? The life you've built, or allowed to accumulate around you in piles and drifts (see also: my laundry and mail)--how much of a fight is it worth?

One of my most and least favorite parables in the New Testament is the Parable of the Talents. You might have heard of it. Master gives his servants talents, or fairly large units of currency, to take care of while he's away. The first servant gets five talents. He invests it, and when the Master comes home, the servant puts ten talents into his hand and is rewarded with the famous phrase, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  The second servant had two talents, and likewise invested and doubled them. The third servant got one talent to manage, and, fearful of losing it and angering his Master, simply buried it. When the Master came home, the servant returned the talent to him, figuring, hey, at least I broke even.

And the Master is righteously pissed. "That all you got?" he thunders. I may be playing fast and loose with the translation at this point.

He doesn't just not give the unprofitable servant a raise. He doesn't give him two weeks notice. He orders him cast into the outer darkness, where there's wailing and gnashing of teeth and presumably no Internet access.

It's one of my least favorite parables, because guess which servant reminds me of me?

It's one of my most favorite because it fairly screams, and you may imagine Samuel L. Jackson's voice here if you wish, "WAKE THE F*** UP!"

We're all born with and acquire talents. Literal talents, not big gold coins. Life is for discovering those talents, using them, making our homes and our communities and our worlds better because we exercised that particular combination of gifts that is ours alone. By failing to do so, we're cheating ourselves and the Master. He knows what he gave us. He doesn't need us to give it back. He needs us to work it.

Too much of the time, I am not working it. For me, the big fear is what if I try to exercise my talent, and find out it's not nearly as much of a talent as I thought? Look at the other guys--the ones with more talents. Mine's not very impressive, not much to offer. What if it gets rejected or diminished? Also, I always figured I could work it later. Cancer is a rather unattractive reminder that "later" has a shelf life.

I would submit that if you're burying your talents, out of fear, or laziness, or bitterness, or selfishness, or whatever reason, that break-even is not enough. Break-even does not create a life worth fighting for. In your gut, you know it. So, start fighting. Start fighting for a reason to fight. Work it.

Later may be sooner than you think.


  1. This made me think of the movie Hugo - I loved the part about how clocks never have "spare" parts, and that the world is like a clock in which each of us needs to figure out our own purpose/role. Still looking for mine, though... Thanks for the inspiration to try harder, Becki!

    1. I've been acting for all the world like my purpose is to keep Facebook moving forward...I suspect that's not it, though.