Who we are is defined by what we believe, stand for and are committed to; it is also our source or strength and inspiration in difficult times.
I recently read a very inspiring story about a homeless man who found a backpack containing $3,300. Homeless, broke, and with some legal issues, the opportunity to take use this money to help get out of the hole he was in could have been easily justified. Instead, he found the rightful owner of the money — a college student — and returned it. Since making that decision over a year ago, this man’s life has been changed in many dramatic and amazing ways. This is an incredible story and a life lesson for all of us.
The message in this story is recognizing what is right, not what can be justified as right. For when we are faced with an opportunity to easily and quickly solve a problem, even though others may be adversely affected by our decisions, too many people take the shortcut and justify it. When it comes to our values, our commitment to others, what we stand for and believe in — there can be no compromises or justification for taking a break from them.
The man in this story had a clear sense of what is right and wrong. He could have easily justified his decision to simply take the money. After all, he needed it. Instead, he focused on doing what was right — returning the money to someone who likely would miss it. And, as a result the blessings that he have presented themselves are significantly greater than the $3,300 he could have taken.
Sometimes we cannot see the big picture or understand the long-term view. We do not know what is in store for our lives. As we face crisis after crisis, go over one hurdle after another, while facing what seems like an endless array of challenges and failings, it would be easy to simply take a shortcut. Unfortunately, when it comes to our core values, to what we know we believe, to what we stand for — there can be no compromises. For it is our values, our beliefs, and our commitments that are the source of our strength and our being. Sure, we can justify any decision we make, even if it adversely affects those around us — even perfect strangers; however, when we compromise our values in doing so, we also have weakened what we stand on — our principles — to guide, direct, and sustain us.
The future is very hard to predict. We never know where the source of inspiration or opportunity is going to be coming from. While it would be easy to seize on ready opportunities to find your way; but, if the cost of that solution is compromising what you know is right, rethink your decision and have more faith in that which guides you regularly.