In the past, I have written posts about beginning your life with the end in mind, but it has never been more real to me than it has been this week. My grandmother, who had a large part in raising my cousins and me, has recently moved into a nursing home. When I went to visit her this past week, I just looked at her tiny space and how her entire life now fits into a very small room. It is quite a mental adjustment for me.
When I was a kid, she had a house full of items. At one time, she and Granddaddy had several refrigerators and freezers, all of them full of food. Each room had plenty of furniture and each closet was stocked with toiletries and cleaning supplies. Now, she needs none of those things. She just needs a chair, a bed, and some entertainment. I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she couldn’t think of anything. She asked, “What do I really need?”
When I look at my grandmother, sitting in her chair and often in pain, I consider all the priorities I have in my life. Should they be priorities? What will last? Should the Lord tarry and I live to be eighty-three, what will matter to me at that point? Making a lot of money probably won’t matter. Having many accolades from the world probably won’t matter. At that point, I will want to look back on my life and see that I was gracious to others. It will be important to me that I gave all I could to raise Godly children and that I was loving and respectful to my husband.
Nowadays, Granny often speaks of her concern for others. She prays for the salvation of her family and she thinks about their eternity constantly. She remembers Granddaddy fondly. He was not perfect, even though I thought he was when I was a kid. My grandparents had some hard times, but they worked through them. The day he died, just minutes before leaving this Earth, he told her that he loved her. I think that may have been the last phrase she ever heard him speak – that is what matters.
As young people, the cares of this world too often bog us down. We need to make a living, entertain others, raise children, work in the church, buy gifts for multiple occasions, and keep a backbreaking pace. During this phase of life, there is little time to stop and consider the end.
- What if I don’t serve on thirteen committees, but I have time to just listen to my husband?
- What if we don’t have the money to get that new car we think we need, but my kids get tucked in every night with a book and a song?
- What if people don’t consider me the life of the party, but I have the privilege of leading people to the Lord?
- In the end, when our life can be contained in one small room, what memories and accomplishments will matter?
Though it may sound like I am trying to depress you, I assure you that I am attempting to do just the opposite. What I want to say to others, and to myself, is to not take today for granted. Look at today and ask, “What can I do today that will matter when I’m eighty?”
Though I cannot know for sure what I will be thinking about at age eighty, I would imagine that having left dishes in the sink in 2011 for a day would not matter to me; but, the nice walk I took with my husband may stand out in my memory. Time is short and we do have a lot that needs to get done. Just take a step back and pray for God to reveal something you can do each day (or not do if you need to just spend time with Him or your family) that will last into eternity.
Today, I had breakfast with my long time mentor, Miss Betty. After we ate breakfast, we went to visit my grandmother. That visit brightened Granny’s day and even though I could have been doing something more fun, or productive, that visit mattered more. I just hope that as I settle back into routine life at home after this holiday season is over that I won’t forget to consider the end of my life when prioritizing my life.
Relationships are a part of life we consistently take for granted, but one of the few things we long for deeply when they are gone. There are many times I have sacrificed important time with Eric to do other tasks that are of little importance. Yet, he is the most important person in my life. If the day comes that I am sitting in a nursing home, reviewing my life, I don’t want to regret how little time I spent with him.
How about you? Do you struggle with priorities? Take a step back, and review what matters most in your life and give yourself permission to focus less on the temporal and more on the eternal. Re-prioritize your life according to what will matter in the end.
Do you find that you overextend yourself at the expense of the people you hold most dear?