Spiritual Growth

How to Spend a Life

I’ve been silent on this blog since July, 2016.

Silence.

By pulling back from the blogging world, I always find freedom from the pressures that seem to creep in … who is reading, following, commenting, subscribing … and in the space I gain clarity.

In the meantime I turned 50.  I’ll tell you, it wasn’t a momentous occasion in most ways, but something has shifted (besides my metabolism!).  I told my husband it feels like my life has been a funnel.  In early adulthood, I lived at the broad top – so many opportunities open, an almost overwhelming number of choices.  The challenge to me at that time of life was figuring out what way to turn, you know, “what do I want to be when I grow up?”  (Still working on that one!)  In those early adult years I had room to make mistakes and try again.  I could shoot at a target and miss.  It felt like I could waste time.  I had tons of it, after all.

As the funnel narrowed, I made choices and pursued certain paths.  I became a mom.  I settled in a city.  We bought a home.  I took certain job opportunities.  I let other things slide.  I said “yes” to some things, and each yes meant saying, “no” to many others.  The points I passed by don’t have a “do-over” button.

Now, I’m at what feels like a mile marker.  I probably have more years behind me than I have ahead.  I’m at the point in the funnel where the hole narrows.  I don’t have the luxury I had when I was in my 20s and 30s of trying things on, getting on the wrong track and turning things around.  I need to make the time I have matter more than ever.  What this means is that I want to hit the mark.  I can’t really verbalize this well, except to say, all is grace, so I’m not trying to earn something through perfectionism.  What I grasp more deeply than ever is the truth that my time here won’t be as long as I had once mistakenly seen it to be.  I want to spend it well.  Not to be known.  Not to gain fortune.  Just to do the most with what I have been given.  I sense the truth expressed by the psalmist and the prophets.  My days are like grass that will quickly wither.  My time is like a shadow that lengthens and is gone.  I don’t want the equivalent of buyer’s remorse when the shadow fades and the grass has withered and my opportunities are all memories.

Sobering thoughts.  How should we spend this great gift of life?

The first question in the Westminster Catechism is “What is the Chief End of Man?” to which the answer is given, “to glorify God and enjoy Him all his days.”  How we each work this out is very personal and unique.  What I’m encouraging each one of us to do is to ponder that question and envision our own answer with God.  How do I glorify You – to make You shown and known?  How do I enjoy you?  Help me, Lord, to use all I am and all I have towards this sweet purpose daily in the seemingly small details as well as the momentous.

So, my short list, for now, looks a bit like this:

  • Don’t let my to-do list overshadow my “to be” list … and let my “to love” list supersede all else.
  • Know myself well and only say “yes” to activities, work and ministry which line up with my calling and purpose.  (Which doesn’t mean I don’t clean the bathroom floor or weed the garden or wash a dish, because, let’s face it, I never met someone with the calling and gifting for grunt work.)
  • Spend more time in silence – slowing down to increase the space within myself where Jesus and I find more of one another.
  • Be a blessing.  Daily.  Look for opportunities to pour out love.
  • Step back.  Make a habit out of being small.
  • Count blessings.  Grace drops are falling everywhere.
  • Fear not.  At all.  Anything.  Anyone.  Because Jesus has totally got this whole thing and then some.  He’s for me, with me and in me.

To be honest I feel a bit awkward writing a blog post after so long off line.  I simply sensed it was time to reach out again and share what’s been brewing in my heart and mind during the silence.

I would love to hear from you.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Jon
    February 8, 2017 at 9:12 PM

    Very nice. It’s so true that our time seems more precious now.

  • Reply
    Teresa
    February 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

    Has it really been that long? I had no idea! It flew by. I’ve missed you. Happy Birthday! Happy, Happy Birthday!!! I can so very much relate to the funnel given the fact that I’m now 52. I feel exactly the same way. I carefully weigh what I say “yes” to because time is so precious and it’s flying by faster than ever before. Regarding the grunt work… my time folding the clothes and doing the dishes is often when I have my best conversations with God. I don’t need to think about “how” to do these tasks (Lord knows after all these years I can do these things with my eyes closed) so my mind is clear to pray and most of all… LISTEN. Glad you’re back. Love your posts, bless you!

    • Reply
      Patty
      February 9, 2017 at 11:42 AM

      Teresa,
      Jon and I were just talking about you when we were watching a show about a family house shopping in NC. I said, “I do so love North Carolina. You know, Teresa said we could stay with them if we ever took a trip there …” He said he was so glad you and I had connected. I’m glad too. You are so right about mundane “mindless” tasks. We can be with the Lord – like Brother Lawrence. Not only doing them with the Lord, but as unto Him. Thanks for the camaraderie in this season of life. It feels refreshing and clarifying most of all.

  • Reply
    Michelle Waldrip
    February 13, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    Amen, Patty! This flows along nicely with my own life right now. On Friday, we remembered the life of the last of our great-grandparents, Bryan’s sweet Grandma Betty. She was 90, and passed peacefully surrounded by a couple siblings(!), children, and grandchildren. Her memorial highlighted her love for family, her gift for prayer, her hospitality, and her humility. The Bible states that we should “walk humbly with our God,” and she certainly did so. She was an inspiration, and we are thankful she’s received her eternal reward. Your post is similarly inspiring, and jives with where my thought processes have been this weekend. May we make time for what counts – everything else is just frosting or fluff! 🙂

    • Reply
      Patty
      February 13, 2017 at 11:15 AM

      Michelle, I love the story of Betty and her sweet legacy through “living as quiet a life as possible” and walking near to Jesus. Sometimes we think the loudest things are what matters, but the quiet ways we move in front of and on behalf of others often matter so much more. I’m grateful to hear you are thinking about purpose and intention. Making time for what counts, for me, means stepping back to evaluate what is worth a “yes,” and what must (no matter how worthy or good it is) be given a “no.” It doesn’t mean getting frenetically busy as I did in my 30s and into my early 40s. It sometimes means choosing tea with a friend instead of taking a speaking engagement. It’s hard to paint the picture, but I sense God leading me to what will make eternal impact rather than the trivial things which can often lead to activity without significance. I am so grateful for your comment here.

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