The Art of Flying and Full Living (A November to Remember: 11.24.2014)
Today’s Scripture — 11.24.2014
Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. – Psalm 90:10
Lydia turned 13 a week ago. All the things about getting older have been coming true. I have to close my eyes tight to remember how it felt to strap her into a car seat, or to lift her from the crib. We’ve walked a long stretch of life since those early days, when I charted every feeding, every body function, every diapering on a piece of paper. I hummed a lullaby to her every night, same song again and again, while rubbing a thousand endless rings into her back. There were the endless loads of laundry, the feverish nights, the unexplained crying, the same books read and re-read. It was all the same, day in, day out, and day in again.
It’s true what they say, about the days going slow and the years going fast.
Time is a greedy thing, gobbling up minutes.
At her birthday party, Lydia stood in a ring of girls and tossed her head back. Her hair ran in brown ribbons down her back. She and her friends were all squinty with laughter, turning into each other, so full and happy and alive. I stood in the doorway and watched my daughter. She looked like a little woman.
There goes the girl.
The years disappear, the psalmist told us. And birthdays always remind us just how much.
Birthdays also remind us that we’re just passing through, on our way to somewhere else, to a forever place.
My friend Diane sent a photograph to me the other day, saying she liked my smile. I first noticed the lines around my eyes, not in a resentful way, but in a matter-of-fact way. In the photo, I see a life-lined face, grooved and creased by millions of moments that made me who I am. I see that I am getting older, and I don’t fear it. My only fear would be not really living the life I’d been given. The tragedy would be allowing years to disappear in a fog of disappointment or drudgery, with no way to recover the beauty — which was always present, but passed by, unnoticed.
This is me, leaning into the rest of the years I’ve been given.
I haven’t always leaned into my life. I’ve abandoned myself to the urges to be something more, something other.
But you know, that was a big waste of time. We won’t get into that here today. I wrote a whole book about the dangers of trying to be someone you’re NOT. And I want to get on with my point here. Which is this:
I’ve got to spend the rest of my days living my life, or it won’t get lived. Same goes for you. You are the only you there is. What truth is your life-lined face speaking, about who you are?
Look, I don’t mean to get morbid here, but young or old, there’s one common trait uniting us — we’re terminal. On the big screen of eternity’s theater, our lives are microscopic blips.
I want my wee little blip on the screen to blink boldly for a King, before it flickers out. I want to pay attention, love well, lay down my own desires, and make daily decisions that match up with my beliefs. I want to reach out, lean in, look up, and bow down. I want to breathe more deeply, see more beauty, make more room at the table, learn more from the Teacher, and pass more of the good stuff onto my people.
I don’t know how this all ends, but when it comes down to the last moments, I don’t want to say, “Oh, how time flew.” I want to exclaim to my people, “Look! Look, how we learned to fly!”
This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.
How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:
1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to!)
2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.
3 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?
4 – Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.
5 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. #MoreSoulLessScrollTag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)
I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.
If you want to follow along, visit us here every day. Consider subscribing to my blog by clicking here to get these reflections in your email inbox.
(Download for printing from Google Drive)
Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.
Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.
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Once again, it is as if the words you’ve penned in this space were meant for me. I want to fly without looking back and wishing I’d done done life differently. Without wishing I’d done more. Without wishing I’d done something else. To do that, I must let go of things I cannot change. Jennifer, this series is so timely. I find myself wondering if God had me in mind when he gave you and Carey this vision. Thank you…once again.
Means so much to journey through these Scriptures with you, Mary. xo
Yes… Yes… there was something that really got ignited in my heart as I turned the corner of 55 a couple of years ago… more than ever i could see more clearly … there were two paths ahead of me… one …a slow side into the “retirement years”… the years of me… or turning to another path… one of otherness… wide open space… new territories to be conquered… to finish stronger than when I started… and yes… keep flying high!!!
I have to admit when I first read today’s verse, I was taken aback. Your words added beauty to this concept and I, too, wrote in my journal this morning a reminder that we’re just passing through and our eternal home awaits us. Flying well!
“When it’s over, I want to say I was always a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” Mary Oliver. I’m blessed to enter your online home. You blessed me Friday night in ways God will weave into the tapestries of Grace He is creating in US for His glory. I know for sure it is exceeding, abundant above all we could ask or think. Love because He first loved us.
Beautiful photo of you, Jennifer! You do look exactly like a woman who is embracing every moment of her life and looking forward with hope, faith and trust for the future held in God’s hands. May we all, in this earthly life, learn to fly for the Lord! Blessings!
It’s really not difficult to do, but this made me cry. I feel that the older I get the more acutely aware I become of those lines that are forming and how little I lean into the life that’s drawing them across my face. But this year was different. Year 37 of my life is going down as one where I listened more intently, kept my eyes wide open to embrace my surroundings, and laid my everything at the foot of the cross. I am so grateful that I didn’t miss another moment of it. Bring on year 38 – lines and all!
I’m in year 38 Jennifer, and I realize that the lines that have been etched in my face over the last 38 years tell the story of a soul that I hope is being renewed in the presence of God’s Spirit and conformed into the image of Jesus. His leadership is so worthy of our trust and is SO good. He’s the best Daddy!
I think it’s important to remember that for those of us who are believers, Jesus has a fantastic promise — He tells us that in ALL things He will work them for the good!! Maybe not on our timetable or in our own way, but His Way, and isn’t that the best way of all? 🙂
Jennifer, I’m 62 and have 5 grandchildren. Talk about life going by in a blink. MY daughter will be 35 next month, and yes, I still remember the look and feel of her baby blanket. What I’m most acutely tuned into these days on the other side of all those years is making them count as you said. Choosing my ‘one thing’ (Psalm 27:4), to dwell and abide in God’s house–not an actual sanctuary, but a dwelling, be-ing with God and taking Him wherever I am.
Beautiful, true words here. And I LOVE the photo of you.
So appreciate that one thing you’ve chosen, Jody: to dwell and abide in God’s house within you, and taking Him wherever you are. Beautiful, friend!
“I want my wee little blip on the screen to blink boldly for a King, before it flickers out.” YES! Love this—reminds me of Tennyson’s poem, Crossing the Bar. Just found your blog last week and SO glad I did. 🙂
Your words, your work, your smile ~ always bless me. <3
“AMEN!” to that next-to-last paragraph, Jennifer, with all the examples of how to brightly shine our lights. May our lives of faith, integrity, perseverance, and fruitfulness create enough light to burn as legacy, even after we’ve gone on to heaven. Lord, remind me each day of that goal!
In church last Sunday I thought, “I wonder what it would be like to treat everyone like they are dying. Like they are the only thing that matters in this moment right now, because soon they will pass from it.” So when you wrote “Look, I don’t mean to get morbid here, but young or old, there’s one common trait uniting us – we’re terminal.” I thought to myself – she gets it! We are all passing away and yes that is sad and maybe even a little bit morbid, but it is also cause, excuse, reason to celebrate each other and be kind in a way that surpasses reason. If that annoying telemarketer calls me, and I want to be rude, it’s easy to do a real quick 180 if I ask myself, “How would I treat this person if I knew they were going to die tomorrow?!”
Oh Jennifer, this was beyond beautiful! Such true, and life-giving words – just the words my soul needed to hear. My oldest recently turned 13 and another daughter is turning 11 today, and oh how I can relate to all that you said! LOVE that birthdays remind us that we’re just passing through, on our way to a forever place!! Reminds me to keep birthdays in proper perspective : ) Thank you for sharing just what I needed to read today!