October 26, 2009

Start Living

By Jon Leonetti *
Entitlement. Many of us take on the idea that we truly believe we deserve what we have. Often, it doesn’t stop there. We often find that once someone buys into the idea of entitlement, it quickly turns into pity: self-pity. We slide down that treacherous slope, moving from thinking we deserve what we have to thinking we deserve more. We unknowingly train ourselves to think what we have, even though we might deserve it, is simply not good enough. We complain about the way our day “should have gone,” rather than thinking critically of what choices we (really, I myself)could have made today to create a healthier and happier life… a life where we look at our challenges and difficulties as a way to build ourselves into a faithful and hopeful people.

I have met some pretty unhappy people. Most of the time (listen for it) their lives would be “happier” if they had just “one more thing”. Rather than concentrating on what we do have and counting those blessings, we often choose to think of “the more” that we could have…or… “deserve”. And why is that? We are some of the most fortunate people in the world. Are we trained to think this way? I would say “yes.” But there is hope. As much as we have been trained to view our world as something that should be handed to us on a golden platter, we can just as easily un-train ourselves. And I believe me, it’s simple.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a suggestion. Take it or leave it , but it is something that I believe would alter the way we think of our world. That suggestion is that we start taking inventory of the graces and blessings within our lives. Sound cliché? Maybe. But if it was so cliché I believe it would already have been acted upon by many more of these unhappy people. Without a clear, steady, and daily inventory of the many blessings and graces we have been given, there is simply no way around the trap of entitlement and self pity. We have to stop being the person whose only reflection of character is a certain kind of latte at Starbucks and start being a people who reflects on the reality of the goodness God has bestowed on us.

By taking this inventory of our lives, we ultimately start living within true freedom, the freedom of Jesus Christ. Within this freedom, we venture outside of ourselves, rediscovering our call to live the way God intended for life to be lived.

Sure, it’s not easy. There will always be challenges and difficulties. But within these seemingly insurmountable struggles lies our purpose. We were made to be a people of hope, people who create opportunities, and people that make decisions that lead us to true life with God. This new vision of freedom as coming from our giving of ourselves to God will not necessarily make everything better overnight. It will, however, give us a vision of Christ, a vision that ultimately looks to the Resurrection. Let’s make the commitment to this freedom today, making our purpose a reality.

Jon Leonetti is the author of two books entitled - Mission of the Family and Your God Is Too Boring. He currently travels the country giving keynote presentations and parish missions. Learn more by visiting jonleonetti.com

The Live Greater Foundation exists to encourage ordinary people to live in extraordinary ways. Learn more about their work at livegreaterfoundation.org.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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