The authentic realization of what we are and what we dream of being will allow us to generate life in abundance.
We are often tempted to look askance at opinions that are different from our own, and little by little that look of suspicion becomes our way of looking at the people who live around us. Every word seems to challenge our will and our freedom. Everyone seems to want to condition our life and, as a result, we close in on ourselves.
This feeling is something that has certainly knocked on all of our doors. On the one hand, no one seems to understand us; on the other hand, everyone seems to want to coerce us to live in a certain way. Let’s not be fatalistic and be dragged down by this generalized feeling of fear and distrust.
First, we must know who we are and who we wish to be. It is true that not all opinions please us and that not all opinions count, but if we go to those who can help us discern and strengthen our knowledge of who we are, this accompaniment will help us respond to differing opinions in a non-aggressive, consistent way without an assumption of mistrust. Different opinions will help us to think better and to rediscover ourselves!
Sometimes, we are afraid that others are right. Listening and dialoguing with other opinions is important, and discerning about them is not something we have to do alone! Those who accompany us in vocational discernment will help us to see better, to respond better, and, if necessary, to give reason to those who are right.
There is no life or full freedom in solitude and isolation. To think that we can live without others is an illusion and kills everything we believe in – everything that can eventually bear fruit and be life -giving throughout our existence.
As Pope Francis warns, “individualism does not make us freer, more equal, more brothers and sisters. The mere sum of individual interests is not capable of generating a better world for all humanity. Radical individualism is the most difficult virus to overcome. It deludes. It makes us believe that everything is reduced to letting our own ambitions run free, as if by accumulating individual ambitions and security we could build the common good” (Fratelli Tutti, n. 105).
We all want the best for our lives. We all want personal fulfillment and to generate a trail of fullness of life wherever we go. However, if this desire is reduced to a vain desire, then we will get nowhere. If, on the contrary, it becomes an obsessive ambition, then we will find exactly the opposite of what we most dream of. We will be generators of death, of division, and of the destruction proper to those who use and/or crush others to reach their goals.
The full realization of life always presupposes a true encounter with others: with those who accompany us and help us discover who we truly are, and with those whom we dialogue and interact with, even if their opinion is contrary to ours.
In fact, “the human being is made in such a way that he does not realize himself, does not develop, and cannot find his fullness except in the sincere gift of himself to others. And he cannot fully recognize his own truth except in the encounter with others: I only really communicate with myself to the extent that I communicate with the other” (Fratelli Tutti, n. 87).
Unbridled ambition leads to communication blockage. Those who seek to be right more than to be happy amputate the ability to communicate and reduce themselves to a mere informer of their personal will.
Communication presupposes a two-way street: a path of speaking, listening, and dialogue. This is a mechanism that, par excellence, is life-giving, both for the one who speaks and for the one who listens. The blindness that comes from individualism prevents us from moving forward and, in full freedom, choosing and living our dreams that are capable of fulfilling us.
Sometimes, our personal fulfillment clashes with the happiness of others and brings with it much suffering for those we love. However, this fatalistic and suffocating feeling should not govern our actions and our vocational discernment path.
The authentic fulfillment of any human being will always be a true life-giver for all of humanity. It will be important, therefore, to ask ourselves what fruit we want to generate with our lives: the fruit of the generalized contentment of the people we love and who love us, or the fruit of fullness of life for us and for them?
To go with the flow of others’ opinions and following the easiest and least painful path will only bring a momentary feeling of satisfaction. But we know that happiness is much more than that!
The happiness generated by the fullness of life is not something that is produced automatically, but is the result of a responsible and true path. Hence, it is important to walk accompanied and not follow your own lead.
Let’s think of a simple example to better understand what this is all about. If, for example, we get stuck on the idea of a seed buried in the ground, we only see harm. After all, we had a seed and we threw it away. We wasted what we had. We were irresponsible and ungrateful for the gift that someone gave us.
However, if we responsibly take care of that seed, we see that nothing is lost. On the contrary, when the seed germinates and grows into a healthy plant, who will think about the buried seed? Who will criticize us for it? Who, in their right mind, will tell us that they would have preferred us to have kept the seed intact?
It is the same with vocation and the whole path of vocational discernment. Our full experience, the authentic realization of what we are and what we dream of being, can never be a cause for sadness for those who truly love us. This does not mean that everything will be easy! As in the case of the seed, there will be many situations in which they will not understand and will refuse to accept, but… what will it be like when the vitality of our life shines and bears fruit? Won’t these fruits also be life-giving for those who love us?
Vocation, in order to be lived, does not imply breaking relationships, but their transfiguration. To dare to generate life in abundance is to go beyond the immediacy of relationships, to dare to see farther to strive for something greater than an individualistic whim. It is an arduous process full of fruitful rewards. There is no room here for the “easy,” the “instant,” or the “whatever.” This is a path of patient love that, hand in hand with those who can help us blossom, is trodden in every moment of every day. (Susana Vilas Boas)