Losing Self-Preservation

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Over the past couple of weeks I had the opportunity to spend nine days in Nicaragua. I learn something on every trip to Nicaragua, but some lessons are more impactful than others. This trip taught me something particularly meaningful so I am going to take a break from talking about hope to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it!

Why do we settle? Why do we choose to live lives that are less joyful, vibrant, and meaningful than they could be? This was something that went through my head while spending time in Nicaragua over the past couple of weeks. The question came to mind in part because I tend to live with more freedom when I am in Nicaragua. Some of it is being away from the pressures of every day life, but I think there is more to it. What holds me back from living in a way that I know is more fulfilling?

As I pondered that question one hyphenated word came to mind- self-preservation. Before I lose you, or you begin to argue with me in your head, let me be clear- self-preservation at its most basic instinctual level is good and necessary. It keeps us alive and allows us to make important judgement calls when it comes to our safety.

It is when it becomes our standard operating procedure for life that it begins to be unhelpful and unhealthy. In other words, when life becomes all about protecting the status-quo and our own level of comfort it ultimately robs us of joy and significance. We become unwilling to take risks in the way we pursue life, love people, seek growth, and generally enjoy each moment of the life we have been given. One day we wake up wondering what could have been and why life seems so passionless.

We never end up in these places intentionally. It is a slow drift and the accumlation of many small decisions that lead us there. In the end, I think much of it comes back to trust and what ultimately matters most to you. I am reminded of Jesus’ charge to his disciple that life is gained in a willingness to lay it down. Jesus was primarily referring to laying our lives down for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, but I think it extends to the way we live generally.

In a willingness to trust God fully with our lives and to put our significance in his desires for our life, we lose our need for unhealthy self-preservation. We become willing to take risks to live, love, care, and enjoy fully knowing that God’s desires for us our good. We become willing to be vulnerable and fail knowing that true significance is found in embracing the life for which God designed you- a life filled, yes, with risk, but also with freedom and meaning.

Returning from Nicaragua that is where I want to live. I want to love my family and friends better. I want to care for people without concern for how it helps me. I want to live being willing to risk and be vulnerable, even at the prospect of failure. I want to stop living for self-preservation and start living for a life to the fullest. I hope the same for you.

– James Belt

 

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