From an article originally posted September 20, 2013…
I can confidently say I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry and my grandparents. I could picture it—I wanted the life of routine created by the land, but beyond that I have never longed for checking off and conquering a list. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. I love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire in my back yard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.
Last week, when I heard I may have another long road, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street in this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds my heart is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people that grip your heart and expose your lack of faith that there is a place better than here. Many people from the perch of health will often say, I can’t wait for heaven, or Come, Lord Jesus. I quietly wonder if their days were taken today, what would they say? Could they look at their little faces and believe going is better?
Suffering has a way of exposing our theology. Certainly our practical theology. The place where what we believe about God collides with what we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God in his goodness. I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. But truth finds its way to the surface through the Holy Spirit, friends reminding me, scripture. But mostly, I think simple thoughts like:
Suffering is not the absence of goodness.
Grace is here now.
My salvation was made through suffering—I am not exempted from it
Live as the Tree of Life next to streams of water I was planted to be (thank you Ruth)
I’m still here today—God, there is purpose in this moment.
These rays or light, these glimpses of truth, are my greatest comfort. Jason thinks on Psalm 23. I love that. Our ideas of God are not made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next.
Just as truth breaks through the fog, lies can debilitate me utterly to paralysis. Last week in the unknown, I was smooching my son, and the thought hit me that he wouldn’t have me to navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing with the gripping of fear that grabbed me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and thought, Who will help them navigate the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? Can’t I stay? These thoughts suffocate me.
The truth is, we don’t know. We don’t have a clue of the days of my life, which are exactly numbered. Even from a medical place, we simply don’t know what’s happening inside my body. Soon, soon we will know. But we just don’t know right now, and fighting the lies is hard work. Exhausting work. Pray we would rest on truth, look for grace, and live in the love provided and lavished upon us.
So I don’t live with disease and a long bucket list. Bucket lists seem so self-involved. I live with the joy of the snuggle today, the hope for kisses tomorrow, and the grace to see grace even when it’s hard. Sure I long for graduations, wedding days, and grandbabies with a giant part of my being, but I’m not angry if that isn’t given to me. For today, this day, I have a little boy who will cross a room if he sees me puckered. I have a baby girl who gives me ten kisses when I ask for five, I have a preteen who will hold my hand in public and give me giant kisses in front of her friends, and I have a second born who loves to tell me every teeny tiny detail of her day and never wants sleep to come and our time to end. I have a guy who mixes my coffee just how I like, invites me to shower, processes life through the filter that is my perspective, loves me, leads me, always chooses the place right where I am. I’m so rich—why would I need a bucket list?
We have decided if another battle is in store for our family, we are going to run away for a time. I couldn’t care less where we are headed. It’s the relationships that matter. I’m sure the little ones have Disney dreams or beach dreams; for me, this precious gift of now is the only thing on my bucket list.
I do not have the power to extend my days a single moment beyond what is exactly planned for me, but I can live in faithfulness in the moments given. I can point the broken to Jesus, I can disciple the hearts within my home, I can love my guy in ways his heart specifically flourishes under. I will fight to live in the truth that my nearness to Jesus is truly my ONLY good. He has granted this moment, thank you.
Are you struggling to see the gift of now? What keeps you from living today without waiting for better days?