Created to Thrive
Developing the ability to cope with emotional pain — love and loss — is a major theme in religious philosophy. Much of literature is devoted to exploring the human experience, and how one can reach a place of peace, amidst pain.
In eastern religions, it involves releasing oneself from earthly desires and separating one’s needs from wants. Hinduism and Buddhism advocate a “letting go” of the material world, in the hope of inner peace and satisfaction of the soul. Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, emphasizes that there cannot be a lotus without mud – no beauty without time spent in anguish.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the stories of Job and the eventual despair of Solomon suggest an undercurrent of existentialism — that all there is, essentially “is,” and that pain is an expected and anticipated part of the human experience.
Modern times have shown us that Christian “culture” can be exclusive, isolating followers in a way that separates, rather than unites. However, truly following Jesus means opening ourselves to others, wearing “breastplate(s) of love and charity, and helmet(s) of hope.” Despite the solitude and despair we face, the Christian faith has the power to bring grace to the forefront, with Jesus at the helm.
The essence of Christianity is to “walk in the way of insight” through virtuous living, and to share faith, hope, and love with others. Only when we are able to truly love others can we be the hands and feet of Jesus —- without hypocrisy, judgment, bigotry, and pride. Humility means that we as humans are, not only equal in God’s eyes, but responsible for each other: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in.”
16th century poet John Donne wrote that:
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.”
Despite every human urge we have to live selfishly and set apart, that is not how God created us to thrive. Loving each other – ‘on earth, as it is in heaven’ is the most daunting task before us, as a community, as a country, and as a nation.