“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” –Psalm 90:12
When someone we love passes away in our lives, it can take our breath away.
No matter how old someone lives, life really is SO short.
I’ve experienced that recently, and I want to offer some of my reflections…
It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and to forget about taking care of things that we truly want in our relationships.
So it’s wise, whether we’ve experienced loss in our lives or not, to really think about how brief life is, and to align our lives in such a way that we will have few regrets. Though this may sound “morbid”–actually thinking about and applying this can lead to so much JOY!
(I truly hope that this post doesn’t seem to minimize anyone’s grief or pain if you have lost a loved one. And if you do have regrets, realize that there is so much forgiveness, comfort, and mercy from God for that. But I do hope this post will help us to think about those people still here in our lives and make the most of our time with them.)
1. Pray for wisdom and opportunities to spend quality time/do special things for people you love and not continually put them off.
“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” 1 Timothy 5: 8
I have a “ministry mindset”: I want to reach many people with God’s love and truth. I also don’t think we should spend all our time and efforts on our families when there are so many people in need.
BUT I do think this verse above shows that it is very important that we pay close attention to our families and meet their needs well.
The verse is actually talking about making sure to take care of our family members financially and materially (such as widows in the family) but I believe that it can also apply to meeting our family’s needs of love, attention, affirmation– and many other needs as well.
If we spend all our time reaching out to others, and forget about some of those relationships closest to us, this can lead to major regret.
2. Circumstances probably mean you can’t do everything you dream of all the time, but pray and think about what you CAN do at this time.
What would be meaningful to your loved one and yourself?
I know many people live far from their loved ones.
Others have very strained relationships–and sometimes for good reason–some people are simply not safe to spend time with. If this is you, my heart goes out to you.
So we need to pray for wisdom and guidance of what we CAN do.
(If you have a very strained or non-existent relationship with a family member, and time with them does not seem wise, see #3 below as something you CAN do–at least to set yourself free to live life well.)
Even from a distance, what can you do that would be meaningful to the person as well as yourself?
A special phone or Skype call?
A gift sent in the mail?
A planned trip sometime?
In my life right now, I’m expected a second child in early July. Right now it is late-May.
I feel like my husband and I need to spend some more quality relax time together before the hustle and bustle of having a new addition to the family. At the same time, my husband has been very busy at work because of reasons that seem outside of his control…. and I’ve been busy too.
For me, at this time in my life, it probably means that we won’t go off to Florida together next week.
And that’s okay.
But I’m trying to be prayerfully proactive and creative in thinking about what special time/activities I can do now or in the near future to make memories and get some relaxation in.
I gotta tell ya–this isn’t always easy. It’s too easy to let all the busyness of childcare and ministry and other interests take over my time…. but perhaps that’s where I need to start evaluating… are there some things I can let go of for now or adjust at this time in my life?
It’s really good to especially think about what would be truly meaningful to your loved one.
Learning about his or her love language can be an awesome start.
3. Pray for lots of help with forgiveness and learn about how to do so. Forgiveness will free you.
No matter how awesome our family members (or friends) are, there’s a good chance that we may have some unforgiveness in our hearts towards many of them.
No one is perfect, and the people who are closest to us tend to hurt us the most, since we naturally tend to value their opinions and words the most.
You may have someone in your life who has hurt you immensely –and I don’t want to make it seem like forgiveness is easy, or even that you need to spend any time with them. Some people are simply unsafe.
But either way, getting the bitterness and unforgiveness out of our hearts is one of the most important things we can begin to do starting now in order to live a life of joy and fruitfulness ourselves.
This is usually not something that happens in one moment (unless the issue is small), but –especially for big issues–will take time and repeated decisions to forgive.
Here is a good article as well as access to a great “class” by Susan Gregory that can help you understand what forgiveness is and what it is not (it’s not necessarily forgetting, it does not mean the person will not face judgement, it does not mean you will not have boundaries with this person, etc.) and enter the process of forgiving your loved ones.
Forgiveness can free you like almost nothing else to live a life of passion and fruitfulness–a fulfilling, joy-filled life, despite the way others may have treated you.
Grieving is a Sensitive Topic
I know this is a very sensitive topic– the passing away of a loved one— and these reflection exercises are not meant to put aside or cut short the journey of anyone’s grief or experiences.
If you are going through grief over losing a loved one, I’d love to share with you this resource called “Grief Share”. I haven’t experienced it myself at this time, but have heard that it is very good. You may be able to find a group in your area.
How about you? Do you have ideas and experiences concerning making the most of your time with your loved ones? I’d love to hear them below in the comments.