I just finished reading “A Beautiful Mess” by Danielle Strickland. Just the title intrigued me…it’s a little oxymoronic and just what I needed (yes, I recommend it). It’s one of those books that has questions to answer at the end of the chapter – yeah, not really my thing either. I always tell myself that I’ll “come back to it later” when I have more time and can really delve into those deep questions. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m always optimistic. Anyway…I do at least read the questions and ponder, albeit briefly, my answers. In a chapter titled, “Think Bigger,” one of the end-of-chapter questions (and these were by far the simplest, easiest-to-answer questions in the book) asked, “What do you enjoy most about life?” I was completely stumped. Most of the questions in the book I at least had a random thought or two in my head as I pretended to answer the question. This one…nada.
Which in itself is telling, right? Exactly. So I figured I’m a failure. That’s it God, take me out. How can a 52-year-old, walking-with-Jesus, happily married, gainfully employed in a job I love, mother of four healthy and relatively-happy young men, not have an answer to what she enjoys most about life?! I was so frustrated with myself. Goodness-gracious, I teach psychology to hundreds of students each year and I’ve got nothing for this? Okay, I’m rambling now…but you see why I would be frustrated with myself on this one, right?
So I kept that question – what do I enjoy most in life – in the back of my head through the next few days waiting for some momentous ah-ha moment when I would realize what I enjoy most. Many things came to mind that I do enjoy…laughing with my family, walks in nature, sitting by my pond reading, scrapbooking, being with friends and family…the usual, but nothing of the “most” enjoyed caliber.
At one point I read Psalm 90, which, in case you’re not aware, is the only Psalm written by Moses. Now Moses is quite a guy. First, he had 40 years as a Prince of Egypt, living in the lap of luxury, having and doing pretty much anything he wanted to do or have, the best education money could buy, riches, palaces, servants…he had it all! Then he spent 40 years basically alone as a shepherd; he had time to ponder the last 40 years and the present, and what the future might hold. The last 40 years of his life he was the leader of the Jewish nation, dealing with not only his own issues, but everyone else’s! He went from not knowing diddly about God to having face-to-face conversations with God. I figure he’s got to know a whole lot more than I do about “enjoying life”. As Moses puts it:
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:1-2
God is good. Really, really good. He is God, before all, creator of all, eternal, and he loves you! As our dwelling place he’s a shelter, a refuge, a place we can be safe and secure. God is definitely good.
“You turn men back to dust saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.” Psalm 90:3-6
Life is short. If you had a yardstick of the existence of humanity in your hand, your life is barely a sliver of time. Your life, my life, everyone’s life is short. Which brought me back to what do I most enjoy about this short life I’ve been given?
Life. I enjoy life. All those small “moments” of our days add up to “life”. There’s the big moments of course, but even big moments, like getting married, a long-awaited vacation, graduation, a child’s first step…all just moments in life.
When I was younger I wanted to have this awesomely huge life that wasn’t just enjoyed but reveled in! I thought I’d do amazing, wild things, crazy-change-the-world kind of things. Go everywhere, see everything, do it all! I have done a lot of things, went some places, seen a number of things. But I haven’t done anything amazing. I haven’t changed the world.
Yet God gave me a “moment” the other day, a moment that was definitely “most enjoyed.”
A former student, a young lady that had some challenges to overcome in the last few years, brought her younger brother to meet me because he was a bit nervous and was enrolled in one of my classes later that day. She introduced me with these words: “This lady changed my life and if you let her, she can change yours too.” Just a little moment for me…a little moment here and there when I had this young lady as a student…and yet God used me to change her life. Wow.
It’s okay that I haven’t changed the world, but the tiny pebble “moment” of my impact in that young lady’s life that I wasn’t even too cognizant of, had a ripple effect. A moment here, a moment there…God has blessed me with these moments in life to enjoy because life is short, and He is definitely very, very good.
Lord, please forgive us our selfishness and blindness. We look only at our own lives and don’t see what you have laid before us. Help us to enjoy each moment you give us on this earth; to see what you see and reach out with your love, grace and compassion to those around us. “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom…the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all…” (Psalm 145)
Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”