We want our lives to make a difference

We want our lives to make a difference

Hi! My name is Jim Byrum and as you can see, I have decided to start writing a blog!

My purpose is simply to share with those who will take the time to journey along with me (well at least my mom!), news and some personal reflections about life and my work as the Managing Director of the iF Foundation.

I hope my words will occasionally provide some food for thought for you and give you the chance to ponder aspects of your own life. If somewhere down the line some of my words inspire just one other person to find the strength and grace to make the choice to live more for others then for themselves, that would be an added bonus! One of my most cherished and important discoveries in life is an eternal truth about our universal human nature; namely that true joy and fulfillment in life come from putting others needs before our own. When we choose to pattern our lives on this principle of “generosity”, we discover that by living generosity we experience true and lasting inner peace and joy. There is a contemporary adage/credo that goes like this: “The one who dies with the most toys wins!” That creed for living is dead wrong. The one who “wins”(poor choice of words) is the one whose life makes the most difference for others. This is the path to happiness for we human beings.

We all want to live a life that makes a difference. It is in our DNA. Sadly too many people feel their lives are not making a significant difference to others. They are stuck in a rut filled with unpleasant routines. Life becomes drudgery if we wake up every day devoid of this sense that our lives really do count. In my almost 30 years of parish ministry (just where does the time go?) as an Episcopal priest, I came to see again and again, that almost everybody is searching and seeking to find meaning and purpose in life. The world offers a variety of game plans to achieve happiness. There are so many alternatives on the market vying for our attention other than the one I am advocating for. Everybody seems to have a pathway and a “pop up” promise that if we only follow their path we will guarantee our happiness. I don’t even need to list them, you know what they are.

Deep down, we all want to feel like our lives are making a significant difference and that the world is a better place by virtue of our having been here. Though we do not like to admit it or think about it, life is very short and none of us knows how much time we have to live on “this fragile earth our island home”. So “make today count” is a mantra worth placing stock in and worth living for. The clock is ticking. Don’t ask “for whom the bell tolls! It tolls for thee”.

But just how do you “make today count”? That is the big question.

The phrase “this fragile earth our island home” is one that has always captivated my imagination. It comes from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. For we in the west who have so much in terms of privilege and material advantages, the phrase “this fragile earth our island home” can be understood and reduced to an intellectual concept. It sounds like an environmentalist’s platform to save the planet, which is a noble and worthy idea. But for many people living today in the developing countries, the phrase “this fragile earth our island home”, is far more than an intellectual or religious catch phrase out of a prayer book. Sadly, for most people who live in Haiti and Ghana where the iF Foundation works, it is a visceral “in the gut” reality forged from trying with untold desperation to survive day after day without even minimal standards that provide human dignity as you and I know it. Is access to a toilet for all people really too much to ask the modern world to achieve? Is clean water to prevent disease (such as the cholera currently ravaging Haiti) beyond our reach and unnecessary or “too costly” to provide to those without? Is it OK that people in Haiti are eating mud cookies because a father has no job or hope for a job and will not steal to obtain food and the children go to bed hungry night after night after night?

These questions become haunting and disturbing when we choose to care, because it does hurt to care. And because it does hurt to care, many people do shut down and quit trying. Defense mechanisms to protect our vulnerable emotions and psyche are something we all throw up from time to time to protect our space. I do hope you will consider and have the strength and wisdom to not shut down your caring side to protect yourself. Why would you want to miss out on all the meaning and fun in life that alone comes from caring regardless of the challenges and obstacles to do so?

Thanks for taking your time to read this first blog, I hope what follows each week will be worthy of your time (and I promise, even as a clergyman that it will be shorter! :)

The Rev. Canon James E. Byrum

Managing Director, the iF Foundation

One Response to “We want our lives to make a difference”

  1. fatherB February 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Yes I got the response on the blog site, which I guess I will need to check from time to time to see if anyone commented on it. Thanks!

    Fr. B

Leave a Reply