Your value as a human being far surpasses the money you have saved
Sometimes I playfully encourage you to skip around or to go elsewhere in the paper mid-article, but this time, if you’re planning to read any of the following, would you please read all of it.I write, in faith, a week before the publication of the next column. Although you’re reading this on Oct. 17, in reality, “today” is Oct. 10. So much can change between now and then.I make this disclaimer only because of the volatility of things, and as of this moment, the global markets are in an absolute mess and panic, with recently approved governmental responses so far having little effect. The major market indicators are considerably down by any reliable standard, on top of which the media has found a tasty story into which it can sink its fearsome teeth. Such feeding will only deepen the frenzied melee that Wall Street and its foreign equivalents have become.It would be gaudy and disingenuous of me to suggest to you that I know anything worth actually reporting about the current crisis. Furthermore, it would be fantastically reprehensible for me to suggest that you simply sit back and do nothing about it (unless that’s what the experts are suggesting, but then again I’m not an expert). Finally, it would be wrong for you to go away from this exchange thinking that I’m not a little concerned myself, and that my concern might not increase between now and next Friday.But it would also be wrong for me not to relate to you that a good friend, who’s a priest in Michigan, reported yesterday on the suicide of a parishioner. Although the facts of this situation are still developing, apparently this person killed himself not necessarily because of longstanding issues in his life. Rather, he chose to do this because he had reached a point of personal financial crisis, and the intensity of recent headlines provided so much fuel to his already cratering desperation.I’m here to tell you that whether things are going well or not, your life is worth infinitely more than any balance sheet could ever reflect. Your value as a human being, the mere fact of your createdness, far surpasses and excels your money.This has always, always been true. However, it’s so obvious a fact that it often goes unstated. In times like these it bears repeating.You are not your money or any of your holdings. Your are not your job. You are not the prestige, affection, pleasure, esteem, power, or privilege you may or may not enjoy at this moment. These things are all fleeting to the last, and nothing you do can permanently lock them into place.You are so much more than any or all of those things, and this might be a good time to stop and acknowledge that fact. Beneath the fear, the tension, the anxiety, the shortness of breath, the “What Now?” there beats the heart of a person who is good, true and beautiful.This truth is yours to claim, and is already closer than your very breath. Your life may not be perfect – whose is? – but you are something alive, and that’s worth more than the Treasury could ever print.Meanwhile, be honest. If all this isn’t connecting with you and you’re still thinking about suicide, there are people you can talk to who can help sort things out with you. Just call 1-800-273-TALK.William Sloane Coffin wrote, “To take on the imperfections of the world means of course that your heart will be saddened, your self-confidence impaired, your trust disappointed. You will know despair. But isn’t maturity the ability to surmount despair? Isn’t that what growing up is all about – learning to outlast despair?”Perhaps so.Perhaps “learning to outlast despair” is the supreme challenge of these times. And if it is, and if Mr. Coffin was right, then some day soon we will wake up clearer-eyed and flexible, grateful for our very lives, ready to face reality and make it our friend.This, at least, is a way forward, rather than out. May it be so.The Rev. Torey Lightcap is priest-in-charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs (www.saint-barnabas.info). Torey and his wife have two children and live in New Castle.
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