Note: I’ve always been one to analyze my life in great detail, to wonder if I’m making a difference in the world, to ponder life’s greatest mysteries and questions until my brain hurts. So lately I’ve been thinking about what I would say or do if I found out I only had one week left to live, and I began writing a series of blog posts along those lines. This is part 2: An Open Letter.
To Whom It May Concern,
If I had just found out that I only had one week left to live, I figure one of the first things I would do would be to pen letters to everyone I love. But given time constraints, and the fact that I do, God willing, have more than one week left to live, only certain people are going to get personal letters. The rest get an open letter with things I’d want to share.
I spent the large majority of my life surviving. Surviving abuse, surviving dysfunctional family, surviving health issues, surviving financial turmoil, surviving anxiety and depression, surviving great loss, and so on. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized I had gotten the art of survival down so well that I wasn’t really living. Don’t be like me. Live. Don’t wake up thirty-something years into your life and discover that the abundant life Christ wanted you to have here on earth was often hindered behind a defensive wall. You may need to defend yourself at times, and that’s okay. But find someone(s) willing to climb into the trenches with you, and practice living life. Eventually it won’t just be practice, and you’ll find that you really are living. Life is beautiful. Don’t waste it.
We are all designed to be relational. Nobody wants to be alone. We must have meaningful connection to thrive. So get off of Facebook, your iPhone, your iPad, or whatever other iDevice you can’t pry your eyes off of, and look people in the eye while you still can. Ask how their day was, ask what’s on their mind, ask what makes them feel loved. And then reciprocate. Share your heart. Share the same space. Breathe the same air. Connect.
But don’t connect with just anybody. There are people who will suck the very will to live out of your body. Set boundaries. Spend time with people who encourage you, make you laugh, reveal God’s character to you, and help you go after your dreams. I’m not saying to live in a bubble–you need to get outside of your comfort zone and invest in people you may not necessarily like–but choose your inner circle wisely.
And likewise, don’t be a lifesucker. Build people up, don’t tear them down. Stop judging people for how they look or what they believe. When you make a mistake, apologize. Ask for forgiveness. If you love someone, tell them often. Even better, tell them and show them. Give grace. Show mercy. Be at peace.
I’ve been alone, I’ve been in relationships, I’ve been loved, and I’ve had my heart broken into a million pieces. All of these things have taught me something. I wish I could have avoided all of the pain, but in the wise words of C.S. Lewis, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” It hurts to be vulnerable. Sometimes it seems unbearable. Do it anyway.
Go stargazing. Feel the breeze on your cheek. Play music. Sing loudly. Dance down the aisle. Admire creation. Watch a sunset. Hug as many necks as possible. Kiss the ones you love. Hold hands and give comfort. Laugh often. Don’t be afraid to cry. Cling to what is good. Seek God. Ask for wisdom. Have faith. Believe.
And most importantly, love love love.
Ready to see His face,
A girl who’s still seeking