Modern slang is quite interesting when you think about it. This phrase is one I’ve heard a lot recently, which is probably very fitting as the semester wraps up. I have a response for this colloquialism (though I don’t usually say it out loud).
Brother Zachary Burns, TOR, came to present to one of my writing classes recently, and one of the things he said has kept coming back to me. He said that every good story follows the arch of suffering, death and resurrection. So, if you’re dead, so to speak, good for you. That makes you one step closer to resurrection.
Even though people say “I’m dead” just as a go-to phrase, sometimes it ironically describes the speaker’s current state better than he or she intended.
Especially right now. This print is coming out on reading day, and most students here are surely cramming for and stressing about finals. (And if you’re reading this right now, you should probably finish procrastina— I mean reading this article — and then go back to studying.)
It’s crunch time, and we’re all dying a bit. And perhaps that’s why Burns’ formula for a good story has stuck with me, especially because I’ve really been struck recently by how much life is just one big, complex story with intertwined storylines. The story of our lives tends to follow the arch of suffering, death and resurrection.
So, yes, right now, we may be “dead,” or at least suffering. But we have to remember that this is not the end. It is tempting, for sure, to stop and settle. I feel so overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done before the end of the semester, and even in my own life, I keep finding myself ready to stop trying and settle for good enough.
Being complacent is easier and less painful than trekking through suffering and death to reach the resurrection.
However, we’ve all heard Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s oft-repeated quote, so hearing it one more time can’t hurt: “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Well comfort is certainly more appealing. How many times have we turned in a shabbily-done assignment just to get it over with? How often do we let friendships drift apart because we don’t want to put in the effort to maintain them? How often have we been encouraged to grow yet we angrily disregard the advice?
How often have we been called on to greatness and simply ignored it?
Let’s face it: we all suffer in life. We can either respond by settling for what is easiest, or we can push through the suffering, even to the point of death (figuratively please), and reach the resurrection.
Practically speaking, I mean that if something is broken, fix it. If you are presented with a problem, do something about it. If we have to suffer, we might as well suffer well.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that pushing to make something better is tiring, and you certainly may feel like giving up. Yet, when we continue to push through our suffering and death, we are not just resurrected, but we allow God to work through us to others.
We touch so many lives without knowing it, for better or worse. And when we continue to fight through our own complacency to make a difference in whatever we are doing, we have such potential to make so many individual lives better. We can succeed in the immediate task at hand while simultaneously leading by example.
When you chose suffering, death and resurrection over complacency, you choose to trust God and make a difference that maybe no one else can make. But nothing will get done on its own. It’s up to you to choose to make a difference. To choose to die so that you and others may be resurrected.