|Me with my parents (to my right) and my aunt|
Death is an odd thing, really. People are here one day, then gone the next. And the same will happen to each of us one day. Songs will be sung (“I’ll Fly Away,” if you’re in the South), kind words spoken by people who knew you best, flowers and cards given to your survivors, a repast held back at the church...and then everyone will go home. Some will remember you. Some will miss you. Some won’t. It can really shake you if you think about it long enough, which I happen to do from time to time.
I think about death undoubtedly more than the average person. My father is a mortician and funeral service is our family business. In fact, my father and his colleagues from the Virginia Morticians Association just hosted the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association convention in Richmond, VA last week. Being a part of this industry has shaped who I am. I see the fragility of life. Death can come for us at any time, yet I see people live so recklessly or so isolated or as if they'll live forever. Believe you me--that's dangerous. By far, the biggest emotion we see at funerals is regret. People regret that they didn't call Grandma more; that they missed birthday parties and family reunions because they were too busy; that they let an argument sever a relationship. I decided at a young age to not live a life of regrets, but even I get lost in the ebb and flow of life and forget to slow down.
A couple weeks ago, we lost two family members and a close family friend who was like a mentor to my father. For my family, it was a week of road trips, family reunions, tears, lots of laughter and deep reflection. I thought a lot about what I’m doing here and what people might say at my funeral. (I know what you may be thinking, but this is slightly less creepy than that one time I had to recite my own eulogy for a public speaking course back in college.) I was there at my great-uncle’s funeral, seated between my mother and aunt, and surrounded by the sounds of the organ playing, the choir singing, my mother harmonizing, my aunt losing her pitch every now and then but finding it again on the next line, church fans flopping, and the rhythmic clapping and stomping of the congregation. Life is good, I remember thinking. But am I doing enough?
|Cousins I hadn't seen since they were toddlers. Now, they're all grown up and starting college soon!|
Am I generous enough? I thought. Friendly enough? Adventurous enough? And it was when I had gotten carried away and was making all these mental plans for how I’m going to do better when Scripture from the book of James came to mind. Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:13-14). Now, wait a minute, James. All I am is a mist? Ouch. But what he’s saying is exactly what I was thinking about the shortness of life. We only get one go-round here on earth--just one. But if we do it right, one is all we need. Time is the currency most precious in life and we should spend it wisely.
So often, we say, “I just don’t have the time.” (I say that even facetiously about funny memes or friends who get on my nerves.) We also wish for more hours in a day, more days in a week and more days in a weekend. At one point, it occurred to me that I serve the author of time; and if during creation, He gave us a system of time that one day we calculated to be 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week and 365 days in a year (366 in a leap year), surely that should be enough time to accomplish what we’re meant to, right? I believe yes, if we steward that time correctly. It requires us to be organized, for sure, but it’s certainly possible.
My love language is quality time. By nature, I’m an extrovert. So this may come more easily for me than it does for you, but I want to encourage you to take your time. Time has already been given, so it’s up to us to take it and make the best of it. Take your time today with the people you love. Take your time today to explore and expand your passions. Take your time today to fulfill your purpose. Lord willing, tomorrow you may just go into a town, spend a year or two there and make a profit. You may discover a cure or save a life or build an empire. But for now, the only time you're guaranteed is right now. Take it. It's truly what makes life deleesh.