I called my Dad last Friday at 8:00am to explain a situation we were having at our house. Long story short, we had two trees in our back yard that needed to be cut down, one of which had roots that could interfere with our septic tank. By 4:30pm both trees were down, chopped up, and stacked neatly in the back corner of the yard.
Both of my parents have always been this way. Lacie's too. They see a need and respond. No question, no complaining, they just make it happen. I think back over the course of my life and the many, many blessings that have come to me through their lives. I have been given more than I could ever give back to them. That begs a really interesting question--how can I repay what cannot be repaid?
What is an appropriate response? In situations where we are given much, when we don't deserve it, when we didn't earn it, what's the correct reaction? And how do we keep a sense of entitlement or an unhealthy, privileged mindset from developing?
We practice deep gratitude that expresses itself in extreme generosity.
We create the same privilege for someone else who couldn't do for themselves. We extend the same grace that we ourselves have already received. We pour from the cup that someone else has already filled to the point of overflowing. We become that go-to person for another. We put someone on our shoulders, as we look down and acknowledge the shoulders we are already standing on.
As my Dad was leaving I made a comment I've made to my parents many times throughout the years, "I don't know what I would have done without your help." It's not weak dependence that fueled that statement, but rather an acknowledgement that my entire life rests on a foundation of love and sacrifice my parents have made for me.
What's this all rooted in? What spiritual reality are we seeing manifest itself here in our physical world? Surely there's a deeper truth calling to us in the heart of stories like this. I believe there is, and I think it's perfectly portrayed in the writings of Paul to the Philippians,
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant..."
I remember when our youth pastor encouraged us to memorize this passage from the second chapter of Philippians when I was sixteen years-old. It changed me. It lodged itself in my heart and became a safeguard against selfishness (though I still struggle) and a reminder for how to live.
How do relationships work? How does the world move towards peace and solidarity? Simply put, we all become humble servants.
The reality is that I can't repay what's been given to me. The amount is too great, both in the case of my parents and my God. But I can live a life that emulates the same love that fueled the gift in the first place...rooted in gratitude, expressed in generosity. And I'll see the world change, first in my heart, then in others.