Recently I’ve been listening to Rob Bell’s brilliant book, Love Wins. This book is all about our understanding (or misunderstanding) of the terms, heaven, hell and what happens to us in the afterlife as we’ve commonly interpreted from the Bible. What I appreciate most about Bell, is his thorough historical and linguistically precise analysis of language and reference to really clarify what this terminology most likely, ACTUALLY, meant. Although, I already knew some of the facts that he presented from having a history background myself and having studied the Bible a few times (yes, I am a minister!), it was refreshing to listen to an open dialogue about these things from another pastor’s understanding.
With that information simmering in my mind, I was putting away dishes yesterday and thinking about retirement. I know, the leap makes TOTAL sense. But, hear me out.
I was thinking about how much the conversation of retirement has been a present thing in my generation (millennials) particularly because we will not have the same benefits available to use that generations before us are entitled to. It is understood that if we don’t find a way to become self sufficient long term, we will find ourselves in more of a crisis than we can currently imagine.
I believe this is the reason there are more multimillionaire young people right now walking this nation of the US than ever before. There is some serious drive in us and also, some serious leverage. We’ve somehow understood something that the generations before us did not or could not – life is not for later, it’s for now.
The conversations about retirement and heaven are remarkably similar, i.e “Everything is shite now, but once I (insert go to heaven/retire) it’s going to be much better! I’ll really live then! I’ll do whatever I want! I’ll go wherever I want! I’ll be free!” The overarching theme here is, wait a ton until something kicks in – retirement or death – and THEN, you can go and enjoy your life as you’d like, BUT only if you’ve been “good” and only if you saved a boat load of money.
Touche, life. Touche.
This belief system is now becoming obsolete and archaic. As modern working men and women can no longer rely on the system giving them the kind of security that’s been given for decades, we’ve turned to a very different form of wealth creation. No longer are we focused on having our needs met, we are now gunning straight for self-actualization. We don’t want another job, we want a CALLING. We don’t want to just work, we want to SERVE. We don’t want to live a limited life and much later do whatever we want to do, we want to do it NOW.
While our generation has been dismissed by older ones as being irresponsible and unrealistic, I beg to differ. We are not blinded by the false understanding that life begins after death or after retirement. We’ve someone understood at a very core level, that life is NOW. Heaven or hell is NOW, traveling where we want is NOW, building a business we love is NOW, owning our time and our money is NOW. And that, friends, is TRUTH.
Without knowing how, an entire generation of young people has hit upon the very teachings of ancient traditions – your life is only happening now, the future and the past do not exist. Somehow, our generation has peaked at a point of evolution where we’ve understood this to be unfailingly true and we set out to prove it by the way we’ve chosen to live – we get married later (if at all), we travel a lot more, we don’t own property nearly as early or as much (unless you’re a millionaire and that shit doesn’t matter), we don’t expect ourselves to have children, we don’t take jobs just because, we don’t go to school or complete school just because.
We haven’t fallen off the deep end – we’ve awakened.
And this makes everyone else, REALLY uncomfortable. Older generations are clinging to their, you-must-go-to-college, and you-have-to-save-for-retirement, and you-better-be-good-or-you-wont-go-to-heaven, and they are baffled by the newer generations complete disregard for this belief system. And, here’s the thing, ultimately, whatever you believe you achieve – so, if you think life is AFTER a certain benchmark in your life, then it will be. BUT, that is not a universal truth, that is a personal made up belief.
As Rob Bell so brilliantly reminds us, Jesus was not referring to heaven as a place out there, somewhere else, and he was also telling the most pious people that they would never make it “in” – why would he say that? Because it’s the most pious people that are overly concerned with not just their behaviors, but the behaviors of others. This leads to an overly critical mind, which by nature, will never have access to heaven for what it is – peace here and now. Meanwhile, those who are not pious and have no internal judgement system to separate themselves from others will have immediate access to “heaven” because finding peace now is remarkably easy for them.
Your life is not happening then, it’s happening now. Heaven is not then, it is now. How you live your life, right now, moment to moment, with the people in it that are already there, the resources you have, the mindset you have, the opportunities you have, will dictate whether you ever access “heaven” or not. And, spoiler alert, if you’re miserable now, once you retire you’ll have way more time to be miserable, which means NOTHING will change, because you’ll take yourself with you wherever you go. While your circumstances might change, you’ll find something else to stress about and fuss about and you’ll do that forever until you die.
Let us not delude ourselves a moment longer.
Our lives are happening in this very instant with every inhale and exhale that moves your body. What are you doing with it? How are you showing up? Are you having fun? Have the courage to ask and answer these honestly, and, have the courage to stop postponing your life and to start creating your heaven right now.