A Lament and a Confession
How loathe I’ve been
To squander this life
To cast to the wind
Or drop into the ground
What I cannot save
I cling fearful
Lest I give myself away
For the pauper I am
I grieve years
What I cannot keep
Losing forever what
Will not come my way again.
God gave me life so I could give it away. When I hoard it, I lose it.
I grew up grasping at signs that I was a worthwhile human being. Not in God’s sight, but in the sight of others. I wanted stars on my forehead and my name on the honor roll.
Life was about performances that drew positive attention toward me. This reassured and soothed me, at least until the next test or assignment came due.
I’ve never felt comfortable reaching out to a wide circle of friends or strangers. Isn’t that part of being introverted? I was shy and bashful, that’s all. Polite, but not the initiator of conversations or unrequired smiles.
And so I hoarded shreds of praise and affirmation for myself. I didn’t often practice giving away praise, affirmation or even smiles to others.
Yet there’s nothing about being introverted that keeps me from giving away my life. Especially in small ways: Kindness. Short notes of encouragement. Smiles and hellos. Listening. Not as a duty, but as a way of passing on a bit of the life God and countless others have freely given me.
It sounds easy. Yet I’m reluctant to make the first move. I don’t want to stand out, ‘bother’ people, or take unnecessary risks with strangers. Better safe than sorry.
Then again, God reached out and made the first move toward me, a stranger. Without God’s kindness, including kindnesses passed on to me through friends and strangers, I would have nothing to give away.
I don’t squander money or spend it recklessly. Yet squandering is exactly what this calls for. Giving away with abandon some of what I’ve received. Investing it recklessly without promise of high returns.
After all, it never belonged to me in the first place.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 March 2016
Photo with quote from quotesgram.com