I’m just returning from an evening of Thanksgiving celebration, and things were nice. Having friends and family around me was as expected, full of fun and joy. There was the usual: turkey, a variety of food stuffs, football, and of course, lots of conversation. Truly, I enjoyed every second of the get together and don’t regret any of it for a second. Still, one interesting event occurred during this night that lasted at least an hour if not more, and that I am really grateful for.
As I was sitting, one of the friends of our family sat down across from me. We began talking politics. Which is not customary Thanksgiving talk for me.
While conversing with him, I kept asking myself if I wanted to continue debating—if I wanted to continue to express my ideals, even if it was a bit irritating and uncomfortable—yet God continued to speak to me. This isn’t meant for winning. This is meant for a reminder. You are meant to continue. Rationally and quite nicely, we continued, and I quite enjoyed it; but one thing kept running through my head as we laid out reasoning and points:
Be an example.
Often times we are challenged with situations in our daily lives that we would rather avoid, or take as little part in as possible. It could be anything from debating politics during a Thanksgiving gathering like I did, voicing your objection to a friend, or standing up to your coworker or boss. Regardless of what that challenge is that we are presented, it is always awkward, always humbling, and always a test of our patience. And when we do take it, we almost certainly regard there only being two outcomes: win or lose. Those times become small measures of our successes or failures; representations of how well we have done for ourselves or how much we know in order to prove someone wrong.
I’d like to offer another more meaningful reason though, as to why we should take up the call to stand for ourselves and our beliefs. And although it might sound strange at first, the reasoning behind it is something that I think resonates deep within us. We know it, and we want it, but we never really care to admit it.
Embody Your Continuum
After the…interesting—let’s say—debate, I began to speak with my aunt. She is a wise woman, a strong woman, and a true woman of character and heart. Really, I wish more women could see her as an example and follow her lead. She lived through World War II, had seen economic hardship, worked hard and is a strong woman of faith; every angle I see her, I only have respect for her! We talked about a myriad of things, but afterwards, she struck me with this, “You carry yourself differently, I am proud of you.”
Me? I’m still young and in many ways maturing even after university. There’s so much more for me to do—if anything, I am in awe and proud of her, because she has certainly done more than I have in her lifetime. I still have a long way to go.
In experimental physics and mathematics there is a thing called “space-time continuum”. Herman Minkowski, Albert Einstein’s former mathematics teacher, is quoted in 1906 as saying this about it:
“The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth, space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”
Basically what he is saying is that space and time have to be mixed together to form a “continuum” for the sake of study because, as far as we know, there are no gaps in space or in time, and they just continue with no limit to duration; forward and backward, in a 4 dimensional plane. So what does that even have to do with us, besides being pretty confusing and over most of our heads?
It serves as a metaphor for us to embody our own continuums.
What I mean by that is, if we look at our lives as, “began existing as a physical baby; now continuing; will die eventually” we are only highlighting a small portion of our overall continuum—of our own space-time. Sure, what we know now is that we started crawling around as an infant, made people think we were cute, grew up and now here we are in our present state. But there is so much more to it than that, because each of us has the means of spreading our influence to others. Not just linearly, like one-to-one; straight line time line; but like four dimensions—from one person, who touches another person, who indirectly influences another person, and so on.
Our influence becomes less of a line, and more akin to a lot of dots in a dimension. Imagine if for every action we did, we affected someone’s life, and when that life was affected it lit up like a star in the night sky. Now imagine all of your actions becoming constantly appearing stars—not just lighting up in the night sky that you view from your yard—lighting up the entire galaxy. It’s crazy to think about, right? It’s almost too much to envision without thinking over it three or four times. But that’s how much we can affect those who surround us by leading by example.
It can get even more intense (or trippy) though. Truly, we are meant to leave legacies. We are meant to act in ways that will make our sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters, then their sons and daughters feel honored to associate their name with ours. We should aim to have a long lasting impact on the future generations to come, and have our names and deeds have meaning to people that will succeed us in our lifetimes. The more we strive now, the more we set up the futures for others!
What’s more though, and what I am a firm believer in, is that we are also meant to make the past proud of us. Each and every one of us have the privilege to stand tall in our convictions and honor our predecessors. We should be aiming not just to set ourselves up, or set the future up, but to also uphold and exemplify all those who preceded us and what they so adamantly worked for. When I think of that aunt saying, “I’m proud,” or of my parents, or even my deceased family and friends, I feel an immense amount of joy in knowing that I am able to, even to a small degree, represent their ideals and passions—to embody some of their characteristics and lives—and make my own strides forward and add on to theirs.
Being an example, for all of us, should be about so much more than just standing out. It should represent a chance to touch an immeasurable amount of lives; those are lives that span not just to our here and now around us, but also to fifteen generations beyond us. Simultaneously, our example that we set as we walk our everyday walks with Christ and live our lives should reach backwards to the foundations and generations that came fifteen generations before us.
“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” –Psalm 145:4 (ESV)
Jesus Christ lived a life that was solely meant to be an example for all generations. Seriously. He stood for the generations that came before him in doing God’s works and being a bold example, from Abraham to David. Then through his actions, he set a powerful framework of lifestyle for the future generations to come. He spanned the past, His present, and our future, and touched the lives of too many people throughout time to count.
If we’re called to live with Jesus as an example, then we’re called to try our best to do just those very things.
Be bold. Aim to stand for an example that outasts and touches the lives of many.
Combine faith with virtue and character. Persevere.
Embody your continuum.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach