They happen to everyone. The graduation-day goodbyes to a group of friends that have become more like family and we can spend all day and probably even multiple days feeling the weight of the fact that life changes and people leave and people stay and most of these people we’ve so grown to love over the past few years, we’ll most likely not see again. As caps are thrown in the air we feel the bittersweet tug on our hearts that this moment here, right now, only comes once…
Add a few years and the showers and parties and weddings galore each give us a taste or a foreshadow of what’s to come, letting us feel the joy and inexpressible pleasure of being surrounded by loving family. The rice is thrown or sparklers lit or bubbles blown and we taste the aliveness that comes from the experience of our frailty hitting us square in the face with how real it is. “This moment, just like it is now, will never happen again, and here is all we have, and our lives and this moment now that I never want to end is all fading…”
Babies are born and we touch something of eternity in the fact that life keeps moving on and it’s like life is just this one big, long circle and soon these babies that we’re holding are going to be holding us as we finalize our years and fade like flowers in the field, here today and gone tomorrow…while all the while the circle keeps moving and these babies are now holding their own babies and it’s all repeating itself…
These times when we feel the most connected to life, they share something in common: We feel alive in the significance. It’s like they awaken us afresh to our frailty and humanity, and unite us to our fellow brothers and sisters who all share one very significant thing: we are all living.
Few are these moments; in the grand timeline of our individual lives, they occur sporadically and very rarely, like a few dots spaced out on a long straight line.
The moments in life we so long for – the reward, celebration, prize for a long race or hard work – they are rare, never seeming to last long enough when they come, and before we know it, we find ourselves back in the middle of another long wait or battle for something else we set our hearts on – another process.
How then should we live our lives? If we simply live for the big moments, the birthdays, graduations, wedding day, birth of our children, etc., then what are we doing with all of our other time, time which is much greater in quantity than the “moments”?
Are we using all of that time striving and reaching and not enjoying? If we are, is that wasting it?
Could it be that we are missing out on some absolutely wonderful glorious treasure that we cannot uncover due to our obsession with chasing after and living for the “moments”?
Could it be that there is an entirely different kind of moment that we waste for much of our lives because we set our heart on rewards and satisfaction, rather than on contentment?
What if that is why we are never satisfied? What if that is why we always seem to be reaching for something we can never attain, and our hearts always aching for something we will never find?
What if God wants our hearts, our joy, and our love for Him and for others to look the same in the middle of the common, mundane process as it does when we reach the milestones? And what if that is actually possible?
I’m convinced that my heart can feel alive – as alive as it does when I’m on top of the world – right in the middle of my boring, mundane day-by-day. How?
If I recognize that what I’ve been given in this day I’m living right now is nothing less than an abundant gift I did not deserve from the hands of an overwhelmingly generous Giver, my heart comes alive. My day comes alive too – with promise, possibility, and purpose. And I’m no longer bored, but awestruck, because my eyes have been opened to one very simple but so often overlooked fact:
There’s things our hearts desire that can cause us to lose sight of what is real. We become preoccupied with what could be, and it overtakes what actually is.
Those of us who are dreamers will find this more difficult than others, but we mustn’t let our hearts cling to possibilities at the expense of realities.
Gratitude is thankfulness for what we have and are. It’s the result of being shown grace and mercy. The graciousness of a giver evokes gratitude. The could be or could have simply are not, and we cannot be thankful for something we haven’t been given, or something that is not.
If there’s one thing I want, it’s to be fully alive, while I’m alive. I’ve lost all desire for time-wasting and moment-erasing and not being fully present where I am.
So with a burning heart I reach for something lasting, something that will not fade with time, as I live this life, walking out my days, however many they add up to in the end. I strive to lay hold of reality, of the present, of the moment that I’m living right now. This moment, with these people, in this season, at this place, will never happen again. I will choose to be fully here, not here but wishing I was there. I will choose to remain actively engaged in right now and not some day, and I will cultivate with all my heart thankfulness and genuine gratitude for the beautiful gift of life I have been given.