What is in it for me?
When Martin Luther King, Jr. became the voice of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, do you think he considered whether or not a national holiday would be named after him? Did it matter that 50 years after his infamous I Have a Dream speech we would all honor him?
Would he still have made the same choices if he had known for certain he would be assassinated?
With no promise for success, with a high chance of failure, including death, why did he choose to do what he did?
He let go of the expectation of being rewarded.
We approach every decision, every choice, every potential plot twist with one question. If I choose this harder thing, what will I get in the end? What is the likelihood of a happy ending? How will I personally benefit?
The problem is that love never expects to be repaid. It never expects a reward. It never expects anything in return.
If the outcome to these questions matter to you, if the story isn’t worth living without the promise of a happy ending, then maybe you have the wrong story.
By choosing a better story, you might end up poor, or you might end up rich. You might be surrounded by of success that anyone would be jealous of. You might be considered a failure by everyone. You might live a life of joy. You might live a life of pain.
If your story truly is better, then none of this will matter. Your purpose, and living out that purpose, will be enough.
Dr. King gave us all a gift that we can never repay. He gave us his life so that we could see our prejudice. He gave his life so African-Americans could know equality.
Certainly Dr. King considered the downside before he began. There was no reason to think he would be successful. And surely he understood that his efforts might cost him his life.
Despite no promise for reward, he gave anyways. And his story was one worth living.