There are two events we all experience that never fail to make us stop and really take a hard look at our entire life. As I write this it’s late December, and both of those events are very near to me.
One of those events is the coming of a new year. The other one is the passing of a friend or loved one.
There’s nothing like a new year to make you really start taking inventory, is there? Sure we’re all celebrating in one way another on New Year’s Eve, whether it’s a party, a church service or your favorite NYE special on tv. But the next day is when we start remembering all the promises we made and broke last year around this time, don’t we?
As an old year comes to an end and a new year begins you start to realize that yet another year of your life is gone. And with it so many unfinished projects, unachieved goals and unrealized dreams. It’s a very sobering thing.
But then there’s that other event. The death of someone close to you. Man. We all know that life is fleeting, and tomorrow is never promised or guaranteed. Still, we can’t help but take it for granted, can we? Oh I know we say we don’t, but we all do. Everybody goes to bed at night with plans already made for tomorrow.
And we can’t help but think the people we love will always be around. It’s funny how some people in our lives can reach such an iconic status that you just can’t ever imagine God taking them. One such person in my life passed away this week, the First Lady of our church (the pastor’s wife). I’ve been a member of this church and known her all my life. So even when she began to become more and more ill I just never thought for a moment that she wouldn’t make a full recovery. Not a serious thought. I was praying like all of the members, but still not really considering that God just might decide it’s time for her to go. It was like “man, this might be….nah, He’s gonna heal her.” She was gone later that evening.
As I look around my inner circle I realize I feel that way about everybody in it. Psh. Mom and dad ain’t going nowhere NO time soon. The siblings are gonna always be with me. My fiance? Shoot, we’re just getting started, I know God ain’t finna take HER.
But you know who’s missing from this mental conversation? Me. Because the truth is there’s no guarantee they won’t go any day, but the fact is they may just be in my life for the entire duration of it. Because it may just be ME that passes away. Talk about evaluating your life.
And it seems like I’ve seen a sudden upsurge of people passing away this week. It’s been all over my facebook feed, every day this week. I found myself today thinking about that scripture that talks about how fleeting and miniscule life is. James 14:4 says it’s like a vapor- or, as one translation describes it, a morning fog- that’s just hear for a little while and then vanishes away.
Talk about evaluating your life!
When you do lose someone close to you the first thing you start thinking of is the loved ones you still have. Have I been treating them well? Keeping in touch enough? Do we get together often enough and just hang or be around each other?
I like to think I’m pretty good with my loved ones but I could do better. Treating myself well though? I haven’t done a very good job of that at all. At 51 it almost saddens me to think of all the things I’ve yet to do, or simply haven’t done nearly enough. My fiance and I were talking about some concert the other day and she asked me to tell her all the people I’d seen in concert.
I went all the way back to high school in my mind and realized I’d only been to about 3 concerts in my life. Me, a self-professed music lover who loves live music. How sad, I thought to myself. I think I’ve been on one or two vacations where I traveled somewhere, stayed a few days and came back. And never out of the country.
I’ve spent most of my life not really buying myself nice clothes. Only now at 51 am I just beginning to care enough about myself to do that. And when I buy myself something nice and walk out the door wearing it that first time it’s amazing how much better that small thing makes me feel. To think that I’ve spent so much time denying myself such simple, relatively inexpensive things makes me shake my head.
But it’s all stuff we manage to push to the back burners of our lives, isn’t it? Family, friends, loved ones, ourselves. Forgiving. Growing. Getting closer to God. Giving more. Treating ourselves better. Treating ourselves at all. Getting in shape. Slowing down. Smelling and giving flowers before the funeral. We’ve got plenty of time, right? We’ll get around to it, we say to ourselves. That is, until we’re faced with one or both of the big two. And we realize another year or another loved one has passed and we still haven’t.
Happy New Year, and/or my condolences.
James 4:14New King James Version (NKJV)
14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.