I have always wondered about the way people spend their Friday nights. For many of us it is the end of a hard week of working, a weekend of freedom is in sight, and the desire to let loose has taken over.

Some like to go really wild. Maybe that means dinner at a restaurant and the latest movie. Maybe that means a bar and lots of drinking. Maybe that means a trip to the ball game and then finishing off the evening on a dance floor somewhere. But the pervading feeling I get from a lot of people is that they have to do something exciting and wild to get rid of the stress and constriction of a week working. Or to help them feel like it is a weekend. To help them feel free and relaxed for a few minutes. A few even confess that doing some of these things is the only way the weekend is made worthwhile.

I agree in part. An exciting weekend certainly does wonders for the psyche. But I have always had the feeling that the people who could be satisfied with less, somehow had me beat. If a simple game of cards with friends and a bag of chips and dip, or a good book and a comfortable couch, or a hot bath and a movie rental satisfied them, then their lives were richer. Think about it. If simple things were satisfying and fun, then bigger events were even more special and rewarding. And these people are happy all the time, but I am only happy when I can afford it. I guess it is kind of like drugs. The person that needs only a little cocaine to have a high is much better off than the person that needs to take whopping amounts to experience the same high. The person that just needs a peanut butter cup is even better off.

Makes sense doesn’t it. Yet, it seems we are a people addicted to more, more, more.

That’s where I am slowly learning the truth. The point is not an abundance of things, but an abundance of living.

So how do I live abundantly? By valuing the right things. What is valuable? Is it the check for a million dollars, or the things I can do with a million dollars?

Jesus said in Luke, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” The whole world represents outward things. It is the car in the driveway, the money in the bank, being elected President of America, my wife telling me how handsome I am. But Jesus is telling me that it is the inner things that matter in the end. Sure the car matters now. I have to drive to work. And man, do I want my wife to think I am hot stuff! But unfortunately, these kind of things are temporary. They can be taken away from me in seconds. I could get in a car accident. In five seconds I have lost the car and disfigured my face and body.

So I have determined to find value in things that enrich who I am inside. That means I have to ask myself difficult questions.

What will be valuable if I suddenly get cancer? If my father dies? If I have to go to war tomorrow and fight for my country? If my friends are put in jail? If I get married? If I have a child?

I have found that it is the simple things I value. Pretty sunsets. My niece feeding me cake on her first birthday. Going to Yankee stadium with my father. Movies with my mother. The rare moments when I discover bits of truth. Yours will probably be different, but I hope they strike you as richly as this example from Mark Steele:

My daughter, Morgan has a beautiful laugh defined by its extreme measure of abandon. She has always worn her emotions for all to see, and when Morgan laughs, it is real, belly-grabbing, and infectious. Eventually, her laughter works its way around the table to Jackson, Charlie (who is normally the one to have provoked the laugh), Kaysie, and then me. Our laughter then kicks Morgan into overdrive. She literally becomes breathless, falling over crying—a state of being that could only be defined as slaphappy.

Slaphappy is, of course, that moment of vulnerability when the cares of the world have been wiped away. The world may be falling apart, but it has been faced and dealt with, and there is nothing left to do but wallow in honesty and laugh. It is a state of being that most resist to their very last breath. I have come to learn that it is the only state of being where I am no longer a flash bang.

Honest abandon. Where I come to the very end of me – where there is no longer even a trickle of pretense. For thirty-five years, I have attempted to make my life work on my own. I have tried to overwhelm God into saving me, when He has already done so. It is only when I look back and discover the moments of abandon—when I know that I cannot do it and that God will—that I have truly left a legacy. These are the moments I have been certain that God worked through me. These are the times I have been fulfilled.2

And that’s what we are all seeking. To sift out the value from “lives of quiet desperation.”1

© Seth Crossman

1. Henry David Thoreau, Walden 1854

2. Mark Steele, Flashbang 2005, drin