“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in . . .” – Matthew 25:35
Author Anne Lamott once told a story about asking a friend if she thought the dress she was wearing made her look fat, to which her friend gave the most astonishing response. “Annie,” her friend scolded, “you don’t have that kind of time!” It stopped Anne dead her tracks. “It was like I was in a cartoon,” Anne explained, “and somebody conked me over the head. I got it.”
What she got is that life is too short for us to be concerned about what others think of us, to spend our time fussing around about appearances. When we do we are squandering precious opportunities to help others, brighten another person’s day, teach a child, call a friend, visit someone who is infirmed, to simply love someone. Anne’s friend understood that we live most abundantly when we are giving. When we focus on such things as whether our clothes make us look fat we rob ourselves of what really makes us feel most alive. We simply “don’t have that kind of time.”
It’s not easy, though, is it? We live in a world that’s telling us to grab onto as much as we can, then try to get more and more, and that will make us happy. But do you really believe that? The problem is, of course, accumulating stuff is a trap, for no matter how much we accumulate it is never enough. Self-serving can never self-satisfy.
What Anne Lamott learned from her friend is that “you don’t have that kind of time” to be worrying about your stuff or your appearance. Life is a gift. YOUR life is a gift – a gift to your family, your friends, co-workers, classmates, those around you. When you focus on yourself, your stuff, your appearances, you are reducing the amount of time you have to share that gift. What we accumulate will neither last nor satisfy. What WILL last and satisfy occurs through giving. It is the secret of abundant living. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in . . .”