Have you ever imagined life without the things and people that make it special? For some the loss of those closest to them has become a reality while others are coming to grips with the fact that the unavoidable isn’t far away. The remainder are aware that life, even if it is going perfectly at this point, will at some point be interrupted by loss. I must admit as self-absorbed as it seems, lately I have been more focused on the potential loss of the things that make me, me.
It isn’t that I don’t think about the death of my loved ones.
At 91 and 92 years old I am constantly reminded that my mom who lives with us and my dad who recently had to move into a long term care facility after a stroke and worsening dementia, will one day no longer be with us. My oldest son had a co-worker killed on the job doing the same thing he does. My middle son was on a mission’s trip in a town in Africa that was bombed by a terrorist. He and his family plan to return to the mission field. My wife was induced early, my youngest son was born premature, both survived but it was touch and go. I have been forced to face the eventual loss of my loved ones and will be facing it each day but I must admit as self-absorbed as it seems, lately I have been more focused on the potential loss of the things that make me, me.
It isn’t my death but rather the death of what I see as parts of me.
Lately when I have tried to write my blog, I have noticed my ideas seem tougher and tougher to express. What if writing is taken from me? When I led worship a month ago I noticed that the arthritis in my fingers has progressed making playing the keyboard more difficult not to mention painful. This along with the limitations of aging and a not so healthy body loading, unloading, setting up, tearing down, reloading and unloading the equipment makes me wonder, what if leading worship is taken from me? My last contract ended early which meant that I began to question my abilities and my calling. Although reflection and time with mentors have helped me to see I, although not perfect, am not the reason for the questionable actions of the new leadership, I still am left asking myself, what if transitional pastoring is taken from me? I must admit as self-absorbed as it seems, lately I have been more focused on the potential loss of the things that make me, me.
Things that make me, me, will die long before I do.
First and most importantly, I am aware that just because I do something it doesn’t actually make me, me. That being said, if I do it enough it becomes a part of who I am. It does not define me but rather it becomes a way of expressing who I am. To have these things taken away is an amputation of sorts. It is not the death of me but it is the death of the parts I use to live out being me.
I have taken time over the past few weeks to reflect on the things that God has allowed me to do, the things that for now are part of me being me. I sat down and read old blogs and my book Blueprint. I listened to a CD I made with my wife and one of my sons of original songs I have written. I watched videos of sermons I preached. One thing has become clear. When God blesses you with things that are a part you being you don’t forget to enjoy these things while they happen because some day they will be gone.
I have never enjoyed being the me God has allowed me to be.
Now that I have taken the time to read, listen and watch instead of critique, criticize and condemn the work I have done, something has changed. What if it is all taken away? Answering this question is not important. Living with this question in mind as long as God allows me to write, sing, play, preach and live: is. This question demands that I enjoy each moment, each experience, each relationship and each accomplishment that God has afforded me because one day the things and people that make life special will be taken away.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NIV)