Lost & Found

I’ve been thinking about investments. This election brought up a lot of questions and concerns about our identity as a country. The implications of that are huge and overwhelming for me, so I scale those questions to the micro-level as they manifest in my immediate sphere.

A recently heard definition of integrity keeps coming to mind: integrity is making and keeping promises to myself. The promises I’ve faithfully kept have been some of the best investments I’ve ever made in myself, my relationships, and my experiences. Some promises have been surprisingly hard – like trying to stop drinking coffee. Took me a whole year, folks.

My grandmother turned 95 this year. I made a timeline for her, capturing 3-4 significant events from each year of her life. She lived through a lot! Presidents, world wars, medical advancements and disasters, social and civic sea changes…this doesn’t even include her own personal life journey. She came of age during World War II; she is a mother, grandmother, wife, sister, daughter. Contemplating all she witnessed during her life, I am impressed by the commitments she had to make to various people or institutions not knowing what would come next. Some of her investments paid off early, some cost her dearly, and some turned out better than she could ever imagine. If your grandparents are still living, take a moment to flip through a photo album with them. You might even find a telegram from your grandfather to your grandmother that “he’ll be home on Saturday.”

The thing with investing is that we just don’t know how it will turn out. Wherever or however we invest our resources is simply a marker of how far we will stretch ourselves. We have to believe in the cause or idea, more than we believe in what we will get from it. We have to consider what kind of promise we can or can’t, will or won’t make to something or someone.

In my current work, I observe students in their early twenties promising their time, energy and creativity. I’m fascinated by those choices; and highly reflective of the choices/promises I made at their age. Moral of the story: embrace learning.

As I completed my thera-band exercises this week, I was reminded that resistance builds strength. Resistance to the promises we make can appear as road-blocks, when in reality, resistance may be the opportunity to strengthen us to maintain that commitment. In daily navigating the sometimes murky, cluttered waters of a large university structure, I’m seeing that success comes not from fighting resistance but positioning it as a catalyst for achieving the long-term goal/investment.

What are the promises, investments we can make in our homes, workplaces, and communities that will unfold positively in healthcare, education, and the environment? What are the investments I need to make now, regardless of how long they take, or whether I immediately (or ever) benefit from them?

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ~Matthew 16:25-26

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