After facing the death of my grandmother last week, I’ve learned a lot of things about the effects of a loved one’s death. It can get you so down that you choose to stay under the covers all day (which I did…ok, maybe not the WHOLE day, but close enough). It can cause you to take your grief out on those you love (which I also did…sorry Stuart). But if you let it, it can also help you to look at life with a different perspective and cause you realize what’s truly important. That’s kind of where I am right now.
I realized more than ever how important family is. I know I’ve said it before, but there really is nothing like family. For better or for worse, they will always be a part of you. My family banded around each other last week, and even though a lot of us were still states apart, I felt so close to them. That’s one part of my grandmother’s legacy that I’m so thankful for. She provided a place for all of us to come together every year to reconnect and spend some really, really fun times together. Some of the best days of my life have been spent in the small town of Wolfeboro, out on Lake Winnepesaukee.
One of the other things that really hit me this week is how so much in this world is just NOT important. At the end of my life, it’s not going to matter what kind of clothes I wore, what kind of car I drove, how big my house was, or whether or not I looked like a super model. What’s going to matter is who I spent my time with, how well I loved the people in my life, how hospitable and generous I was with my home and belongings, and whether or not I lived my days for Jesus, giving Him everything I was.
As I was thinking over these things this weekend, I couldn’t help but recall the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” by Horatio Spafford. He penned the words after his four daughters all died at sea during a trip to Europe they made with his wife. He was delayed by business, due to another tragedy: the loss of his property in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. He sailed out soon thereafter to join his grieving wife and as his ship passed the place where his family’s ship sank and his daughters drowned, he was inspired with the beautiful words. I have always loved this hymn, but once I learned the story behind the words, they became that much more poignant.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
Those words are so amazing, I tear up every time I read them or sing them.
Through this whole grieving process, I realized more than ever that I want to take life by the horns and really live it to every possible potential. Even if that means simply doing little things with more passion and intention. One of the first ways I “lived life out loud” was to chop off 8″ of my hair. That may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time, I was just too nervous. But I realized that all I have is today. And if I want to chop off my hair, I should chop off my hair. (I mean really, it’ll grow back if I hate it.)
There are no rewards in life without a little risk. So go chop off your hair…or color it red…start that business you’ve been wanting to begin… move to Colorado…ask the girl you love to marry you…take that art class you’ve been eyeing…learn how to write calligraphy…sell all your belongings and go be a missionary in Africa.
Whatever it is, just make sure you’re doing it for God and JUST. DO. IT.
Life’s too short.