Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Gift of Sadness

At the end of December I noticed that I had spent a number of weeks accompanied by a sobering sadness. Not an incapacitating sadness that overwhelmed me; just sort of a persistent companion. Some of it is tied to my ongoing struggle with fear, which has made me face my fear of death and accept that the number of my days is not in my own hands.

I’ve begun to realize that life here on earth doesn’t last forever. I am going to get old, my kids won’t be cute and cuddly forever, and the “mundane” things of life that I take for granted now won’t always be available to me. While I didn’t always enjoy the sadness, I grew to be thankful for its presence during that season, because it reminded me to enjoy the present and urged me to live with God’s Kingdom in mind.

I’m sad that my son won’t always say goofy, two-year-old things, and yet I make a note to treasure them in my heart. I’m sad that one day Diane and I will be parted by death, and yet I appreciate all the more these amazing years of parenting and growing together. I’m sad that Diane’s parents and my parents are getting older, yet I am thankful to get to make the four-hour drive to Georgia to see her family. The present is a treasure, especially the ordinary things.

And as I think about how short life really is, it leads me to want to make mine count. I’ve been to several funerals in the past few months, two of people who died too young, one of a man who was 83 years old. And I have noticed that during funerals, people don’t bring up the bad things you did or the ways you failed. They remember the happy memories and the good things you did, and if you pay attention, you begin to wonder what your own legacy might be.

I don’t want to be remembered as a good guy who did nice things for people. Instead I want my life to count for an eternal impact, that people would be led to know God through His life expressed in me. My kids won’t remember how many hours I worked or how much money I made, but they will remember playing tickle-monster and horsie in the living room, and they will remember the ways that I showed them God’s love with my life and my words. My retirement fund won’t accompany me to heaven, but the lives that I touch for Christ’s sake will have eternal value.

I used to try and fight the sadness or ignore it. But ironically, as I allowed this sadness to speak to me, it actually led to more joy in the present, appreciating all that I have been given.


Nichole said...

As I sat and reflected on your blog I thought about the grieving process, that it's a process that takes us through the loss of something we had formed a bond to. We have a funeral for those things which God calls us to let go and put to rest forever. But it's a multi-faceted process. Hmmm, makes me think... Thanks!

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