Searching for “the Good Life”? Give Your Life Away

Everyone is looking for “the good life.”

Here’s the logic: if I could live in the perfect location in the perfect house surrounded by perfect friends, doing the perfect job in the perfect employment setting, and spend evenings and weekends with my perfect spouse and perfect family and watch my bank account rise to the perfect level, then I could say that I am truly living the good life.

This is ironic because “the good life” is not about a perfect life lived for myself. Rather, the good life can only be achieved when we give our lives away. It’s only then that a life of significance can be achieved.

The movie About Schmidt is the story of Warren Schmidt, a man who had a moment of awakening after he retired from a career with an insurance company. The point raised in the movie was about what gives our life significance. Warren Schmidt retired and the rest of the movie is about what significance, if any, his life possesses. One by one Warren questions the ideas guiding his life. He visits the young man who has taken his place at the insurance company; only to find that he doesn’t need Warrens help. On Schmidt’s way out of the building, he sees the files he developed over a lifetime have been discarded next to the dumpster for disposal. Schmidt tries to see purpose in a huge Winnebago Adventurer that barely fits in his driveway. He finds himself irritated by his wife, Helen. He can’t stand the man his daughter is going to marry nor all of his future in-laws. While cleaning out his wife’s closet, he discovered among some old letters, that she had an affair with his best friend Ray years ago. Where did the “good life” go?

We are all on a search, and so many times, the places we look come up empty for us – like it did for Warren Schmidt.

What are you chasing this Christmas?

Fortune? The world says you’re only successful if you have a lot of money. The more we hold to this, the more it has a hold on us.

Fame? You’re significant if people know you in the public arena.

Power? If you wield a lot of authority, then you’ve got the good life.

Pleasure? You can do whatever feels good anytime you want.

Many today are questing for these lesser passions, but are not finding the truly “good life.” Mick Jagger is right “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

Living the good life begins by believing in the existence of God, knowing God, respecting what He represents, and living life the way He has designed it to be lived. Of course, this is a part of what we lost in the Fall. God is no longer the default reference point for our ideas. We’re so confused because when we try to understand the world without relating every part of it back to God, it doesn’t fit together. He made you to know Him as the foundation for everything else in your life.

On the basis of your relationship with Him, get a job, get married if you’d like, have a family, and build a life. But keep God in the center of all of it and give your life away.

Practically speaking, the truly good life is finding something to enjoy about every moment; it’s loving and being loved in the context of a family; it’s engaging in meaningful work and using your resources to help facilitate the restoration of others to their God-intended purpose; it’s making the journey through life with others who care about you; it’s looking in the mirror with a clean conscience; it’s resting in the Sovereign care of God; it’s the joy of making a difference because you lived; it’s joy in your work and the opportunity to do something significant with your life. The “good life” is not a gathering of expensive possessions but a deliberate investment in the lives of others and to see their lives change for the better. It’s only when we realize that our life is not our own that we begin to live the truly good life.

On a whim one night, Warren Schmidt decided to become the foster parent of a poor 6 year old African boy, Ndugu Umbo, through a charity. In writing to this boy and telling him about his life, Schmidt had an awakening of sorts, asking the question “What in the world is better because of me?”

After taking a journey across the country and back home again, Schmidt opens the door of his home in Omaha, and he’s writing a mental letter to Ndugu, telling him what a failure he’s been.

“What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all.”

Schmidt gathers up the mail and among the letters he received was one from Ndugu. The letter explains how he was recently helped by Schmidt’s gifts. Schmidt with trembling hands and a smile of satisfaction, begins to feel that maybe his life has counted for something after all.

Once we stop chasing after what we thought we wanted, we have to ask ourselves the question, “What is my life truly about?” Give your life away to a great cause and you will live the Good Life.


1 Comment

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Christmas, Good Life, Life Purpose, The Fall

One response to “Searching for “the Good Life”? Give Your Life Away

  1. Pingback: A New Year Virtue in Every Old Year Vice - Fulfilling Good Needs without a Bad Twist « Spiritual Questions Blog

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