I must have woken up on the wrong side of the life bed this morning, because at 8am today, I was in a bad way. Maybe it was the moon, or fatigue, or that late night chocolate ice cream the night before, but I woke up today feeling utterly worthless. News of the accomplishments, new homes, and new jobs of others felt like daggers as I gathered myself for yoga. Mat in hand, filling my water bottle, I collapsed into tears at my kitchen sink.
So much of what I’ve hoped for hasn’t come to pass. I’m not a capital-letter something. I teach but I’m not a Teacher. I sing but I’m not a Singer. I write, but…well, you get it. I don’t have an advanced degree, or a long-term career plan. I’m still floating, still figuring it out, while everyone else zooms past.
Everyone has choices, and I’ve made mine for all the right reasons, but the question of whether my decisions were the right ones nags at me today. Maybe I should have been more determined or goal-oriented. Maybe I should have been more decisive and less faith-led. Maybe I should have invested more into myself and my future. As I swept up the dog hair (again), I wondered, is it too late for me?
I have intentionally poured myself into people for my whole adult life. I’ve raised kids, volunteered, and worked for causes I believe in. I’ve ministered at church and other places. I’ve created a whole early childhood music curriculum which I taught first for free, and now at low cost so I can reach more kids. I worked for ten years on school budget issues in my town to learn today that the whole cycle of overbuilding-underfunding-higher class sizes is beginning yet again. And it makes me wonder: if I died today, what would my legacy be?
As I met Jesus in savasana, I realized that the lens through which I see my life might need a little cleaning up (this happens from time to time), so I asked Him: Tell me about my life.
He looked at me with kindness and described my life in four words. The first was hard. And it’s true, my relatively easy life is hard for me to live sometimes. If you spent five minutes in my brain on a day like today, you’d see what I mean. I second-guess. I worry. I compare. I overthink. I am not easy on myself sometimes, not nearly as merciful to myself as I am toward others, and that makes everything harder than it has to be. I strive to be the best person I can be all the time, but I seldom feel the love that others have for me. My life can be hard.
The second word was blessed, and there’s no denying it. I have a great family, gifts that I use daily, dear friends in my life. I’m healthy and I have a sweet little house and a mostly-good dog. Right at this moment, I am sitting in the sun looking at three shades of purple flowers in my yard. My life really is blessed.
The third word was fruitful, and that’s when I started crying there on my mat, because it’s hard for me to see the truth of it. The impact of my life is likely in a thousand small interactions with people over many years. Times I poured into my children and students, encouraged friends, sang something that touched a heart, wrote a word that resonated. I know those small things add up, and I know I won’t see exactly how they did this side of Heaven. That my life has been fruitful to this point is not something I totally believe or trust, at least not today, and that’s hard.
The last word took me by surprise. Mine. He said, “Your life is mine.” And though it caught in my throat, it’s the truth, and at the end of the day, it’s really all that matters. If God is using my small life in the way He planned, what cause do I have to judge it? After all, I’m doing the very best I can to follow where He’s leading, and if I can do that well, my life will have been well-lived. I’m in good hands. As it says in Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I want to believe this. As I sit here today, I feel a bit fragile about the future. I honestly have no idea what shape it will take, and that scares me sometimes.
I’m doing the best I can.