When I celebrated 50 years this summer, I was determined to run at it and embrace it with a vengeance. And, I think I’ve done that. I’m not embarrassed about my age, but I’m thankful for it. And I want to live it well.
But now that the intentional celebration is over, I have noticed I’ve turned a corner that’s made me more reflective than ever. I read today that the average life expectancy for women in the United States this year (2015) is 82. Interestingly, the U.S. is ranked 53rd of the top 100 in the world in terms of life expectancy (why is that? A discussion for another day). So, at 50 – should I actually live to be 82 – I’m about 61% lived out. That’s pretty sobering, I think. My mama is currently 82 and chugging along very nicely. I pray she continues her typical above-average lifestyle.
I haven’t told Rob yet, but the average life expectancy for men in the U.S. this year is 76 so, unless he is also above average, he’s 67% lived out.
In the past few months, Rob has done more funerals than weddings. For all ages. That’s partly because he’s pastor to a growing congregation so, naturally, the population is larger and there are more requests. But those funerals, combined with the daily world news and friends who are getting sick … how easy it would be to fall into depression! And hopelessness.
I realize that what keeps me afloat amidst the “bad news” is the Good News – that God put skin on, walked the planet, loved, lived and served, took my place on the cross and conquered death and the grave so I could have a beautiful and intimate relationship with my Creator. (Obviously, that’s the super-abbreviated version.) And I live with the hope that life on Planet Earth is a blink in terms of eternity, plus all the heartache, injustice, prejudice and ugliness will someday soon be replaced by joy unspeakable, justice, grace and beauty beyond words. That’s the hope I cling to – with tears and white knuckles sometimes.
But I notice in my increased reflection, my list of regrets keeps growing. Wish I would have, could have or I should have … That is a slippery slope, isn’t it? When 2/3 of my life has passed there’s more behind me than ahead of me, in this life. Obviously, I’m still moving forward in time, but if I remain in a state of looking behind me, it’s likely I’ll miss whatever is ahead. When I walk backwards, I lose the ability to see whatever is in my path, whether it’s something I might stumble into or an amazing opportunity. That’s not a good place to be. I don’t want to miss anything.
When I drive, I might glance back in my rearview mirror just to keep my bearings, but to ONLY look in the rearview mirror is dangerous. I can’t drive that way and I certainly shouldn’t live that way.
I can either focus on “I’ve statistically got ONLY 32 more years to survive!” or I can choose the perspective that “I might still have 32 YEARS to make a difference!”
Every once in a while, I hear a song that just resonates deeply in my heart. The most recent song has been “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. The whole song is great, but the particular words that really speak to me are:
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive.
I encourage you to listen to this song. The music and the lyrics both make me want to dance (and I do when the house is empty). To “thrive” means to flourish, bloom, advance… With God’s help, it is possible to do this in the midst of adversity and daily challenges … in the midst of discouragement and bad news. At any age. (Here’s the YouTube video link*:)
I know that I don’t have any more time for “would have, could have, should have.” The question I need to ask is “what else?” What else can I do before my time runs out? How can I best use the days, months or years that I have left? How can I live THIS day to honor God and my family?
I don’t want to leave a legacy of survivalism. I want to leave a legacy that looks more like the sprint at the finish line, complete with a crowd cheering and my pulse pumping! Rather than share my growing list of ailments, I want to cheer others on in these final miles! This is my opportunity to get that second wind, pick up the pace and keep my eyes fixed on the goal.
So no more walking backwards with a view of the past. No more (figurative) rearview mirrors. I want to run, full force, into my “whatever will be,” determined to make the most of the rest of my days. Will you join me?
You can even take part in The Thrive Challenge! offered by the band, Casting Crowns. Let me know if you jump in on that opportunity. I’d love to hear about your experience.
“Thrive” by Casting Crowns on Amazon (Affiliate Link)
*Hey. I didn’t choose the ad before the video. haha