Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Live Like You're Dying if You're Not

I'm sure just about everyone has heard songs or seen movies that talk about "living like you're dying." And I'll even confess that I'm typically one of the sappy dorks who becomes weepy and emotional each time I experience something along those lines (at least until the radio stations make me completely immune to the songs by playing them 17 times an hour, but that is a topic for a different day.)

In general, this is probably an ok concept--a pretty good way to get people to embrace a new perspective and either redefine their priorities or just refocus on the priorities that they somehow let slide. That seems like a pretty good thing to do in theory. But for some reason this idea has been troubling me lately, and I'm not sure I know *exactly* why, but I have a few thoughts. Maybe someone smarter than me can expound on these notions and bring some wise perspective into the conversation. Or maybe I'm way out in left field and should just stop talking. That's entirely possible too. ;-)

Here is my biggest problem with this scenario. What if you're not dying? Like ever? Shouldn't that pretty much change everything? And if so, why don't more people talk about living like they'll never die? 'Cause doesn't that mean something COMPLETELY different than living like you're dying? I think so. I sure hope so.

Most of the time, the "live like you're dying" songs and movies and books, etc. tend to focus on some sort of list of things you have to do or say or experience before you die. And there is of course a sense of urgency. I mean--you know--the idea is to hurry and fit in as much as possible in a short amount of time. Before you *run out* of time. And that's ok, I guess. It makes sense--sorta. But first of all--doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose a little? I mean, isn't that what most of the world struggles against every day whether they know they're dying or not? This idea of fitting too much activity into too little time and not really experiencing--certainly not savoring--any of it. It's a rush to some sort of worldly finish line. The *end*. Before I get to the *end*, I want to own ______, do ______, see ______, hear ______, etc. etc. etc. as though these are the things that will complete life. And ok, I get it. There's nothing wrong with wanting to experience all sorts of amazing things while we're on the earth. After all, God did create it for our enjoyment.

But secondly--this idea assumes you're running out of time. So if you're not running out of time. . . . . . ever. . . . . Hmm. This begs the question-- How many of us truly know and believe with our whole hearts that we will never die? That there is no *end* for us. And how many of us celebrate that with every fiber of our being in a way that shows everyone around us that we know it? How many of us realize that death is not the end at all for a life that is bound to Christ? It is, in fact, the beginning of the greatest, fullest, awesomest, most joy-filled adventure we will ever know. Nothing on our "bucket lists" will compare. NOTHING. No--not even skydiving. Or having the $1000 ice cream sundae at Serendipity. I promise. So if that is true, shouldn't it impact our behavior just as significantly as (but much differently than) if we knew we were dying?

Like--rather than rushing to force tons of activities into a short amount of time because we know all the fun is coming to an end, wouldn't living forever encourage us to savor every single second of any kind of enjoyment as practice for the ultimate enjoyment we know will be eternally in our future? And wouldn't "rushing" in general pretty much cease to exist if we truly understood that we have ETERNITY to live, laugh and love (ok, maybe that last part's a little cheesy, but I mean, isn't that the sum of what most people want in life)?

And rather than frantically trying to tell or show each of our family members and friends how much we love them before we can't tell them anymore, wouldn't living forever cause us to want to use every moment of our lives (not just the final ones) to teach them how to live forever too? Wouldn't we want to be fully present in every millisecond in a way that demonstrates our love for them because of our love for Christ, therefore drawing them to Christ?

And what about this? Rather than shaping our list of priorities in such a self-focused way that includes a list of things we want to do/see/hear/taste, etc., wouldn't living forever make us realize it's really not even about us? At all. Wouldn't that make us so much more outwardly focused and so much less self-absorbed? I mean, if we know we're living forever, it's because we know Christ, right? And if we know Christ, we know that real life is about being bound to him for all eternity. So shouldn't that make all of the stuff that earth has to offer seem so much less "shiny" and so much less like something we need before we die?

I hope this is coming across the right way. I really don't have any problem whatsoever with someone going sky-diving as a dying wish because it was something they always wanted to experience. I say go for it. Really. Please do. And enjoy it. Savor it.

My concern is just this. We're all dying in our earthly bodies. Every single one of us. Some sooner than others. Some know when (at least approximately), and some don't have a clue. BUT some of us are living forever. AND WE ALREADY KNOW THIS. For sure. We don't have to wait for a doctor to tell us when it will start. It shouldn't matter. What matters is that we know it will happen. So all I'm saying is--if knowing that you're dying affects the way you live, shouldn't knowing that you'll never die do the same? And since we already know, shouldn't we go ahead and start living like we know? That's all I'm saying.


1 comment:

Chanda said...

You are totally, totally right...LIVING should affect everything much more than dying ever could. Awesomeness. I love it.