I am writing so that I may never forget.
Today, my little girl turned 21.
I just now finished rocking her to sleep, and my mind began to fantasize about her future. And then I realized this is the last time I will be able to hold her like this when she turns 21.
I take in her sweet little round nose, her bulging cheeks, her downy, dark brown hair. I notice that there are slight curves on the edges, framing her face…will she have curls someday? Her green summer onesie has white polka dots, which accent the milk stains left over from her lunch.I notice that her face is so different now from the day I met her, even though that was only 21 days ago. How much she has already grown!
Perhaps rocking her in the glider as she laid in my lap may seem like an everyday, and therefore insignificant, event; however, it is one of those small moments that I am taking to mark in my memory. One small detail of her babyhood that I will not allow time to rob from me.
Because the next time she turns 21, she will not be a babe of 21 days, but a young woman of 21 years. She will not be falling asleep in my lap as I rock her to sleep, as I marvel at her tiny, animated facial expressions that flash across her face, offering just a glimpse into her infantile dreams. No– she will no longer possess the total innocence that she has now. No more crying for food, no more holding my finger with pudgy little hands. She may even be married by then, and no longer belong to me.
So I will hold onto this moment because I know how time flies, and she will only be the sweet little baby that I now love and can hold in my hands for a little while longer. And I want to cherish each moment that she is.
Technology is a wonderful thing. It makes it so much easier to keep up with our busy lives– cell phones, computers, the Internet…the list is infinite. The part that concerns me is that maybe technology is making life too convenient. Too easy.
Personally, I usually stay busy. School, work, activities, paying bills and errands only begin the list of distractions in my life. Pretty soon, I will be adding taking care of a baby on top of everything. I am sure that I am not alone. I believe that the majority of people have a similar lifestyle that is dictated by what we have to do, and other things we want to do for ourselves.
How does this on-the-go life affect our relationships? Recently, I have read about, heard a sermon about, and saw billboards about our friendships. These things made me think about all the friends I have ever had. Grade school, then high school, now college… Unfortunately, many of the friends that we talked to every day have somehow disappeared throughout the years. How does this happen to people?
Eventually, we fill up our schedules so much that we do not give time to our friends. We have all of our Technology to do the work for us. Work. Yes, maintaining a friendship takes work! I think that is what too many people do not realize until it’s too late. We need to be a friend for others, listening to them, sharing and making memories with them, helping them through the tough times. Now, we have Facebook to keep in touch with friends, so that we do not have to personally spend our precious time on our “friends.” We send them a message from time to time, check their page to make sure we know what’s the latest news in their life, probably more to satisfy our own curiosity than to genuinely check on them to see how they are and if we can help them in any way. Unfortunately, however hard it is to admit, the people we merely contact via the Internet or text message and other various means of technology, we are not contacting FRIENDS. They are our CORRESPONDENTS. People we message. Talk to. Merely correspond with.
How many of your correspondents would give their life for you? How many would help you in time of need? All 279 “friends” online? Only 100? 10? 2? None?
Do you know who your true friends are? I mean the people who you can count on, and that they can depend on you, too. The friends that will still be friends when you no longer see them daily at school or work or at the community center. Do you have any?
I must admit that I am just as guilty, which is the reason I got to thinking about this. I have neglected many relationships in my lifetime, as I am sure most people have. I have several people in my life that I truly can rely on and they know I am there for them, too. God forbid that I might ever become so busy for these few important people who have done so much for me that I would ever be unable to spare them a few hours of one day to spend with them. But I am only a sinful human being, and I make mistakes. I still feel regret over losing some friends in the past because I have overfilled my schedule and left no room for them.
If you value something in your life, you give it time. You spend hours watching your favorite TV shows, or working on improving a skill. You devote time to a hobby or to a significant other. If we can give time to all of these things, we should also be able to give time to the people in our lives that we value– people who are eager to give back to you.
Do not neglect your true friends. It is so easy with the American bustle of life, which seems to refuse its citizens any free time. But the truth is, you choose where your time goes. You can choose to let your relationships wither away, or to nourish them and watch them bloom. Technology is indeed convenient for keeping in touch, but do not allow your entire friendship to depend on that. Spend personal, face-to-face time with your friends, and you will develop relationships that will enrich you for a lifetime.
With all the turmoil in today’s world, sorrow and pain resound loudly across the globe. How can anyone avoid being drained of all of their joy and contentment when tornadoes, famine, disease, loss, heartbreak, death, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, persecution, and war penetrate everyone’s personal lives?
Life indeed is unfair and cruel. Good and evil people alike suffer pain in copious ways, and when they do, many soak themselves in self-pity. What happened to happiness and where can it be found?
The truth is that the “secrets” I am about to share are not meant to be secret at all. They are readily available for anyone who takes the time to search for them. To be content, you must have everything and be able to do everything.
Some people think that having everything means obtaining all the clothes, money, possessions, and relationships that you possibly can in one short lifetime. However, those that strive to obtain everything this way find that they still feel discontent as they sit with their things, reflecting on their lives. So how does having everything bring contentment?
The key is that Christ IS everything.
When you have Christ in your life, you lack nothing. You have the reassurance that all of your needs will be met. You can be content knowing that although there is pain here on Earth, you will have eternal joy in a perfect paradise, since YOUR name is written in the book of life. Someday you will be with God in Heaven, and have everything you need, and you will find no sorrow there. You have all you need as long as you have salvation in Christ which brings you life everlasting in Paradise.
The second part is to be able to do everything. Doing everything does not mean that you always get your way, or that you can accomplish incredible feats or break records, or land the job you are fighting for. A serious problem confronts those who believe that they can be content this way: Simply, no one is strong enough to handle all of life’s challenges on their own. We need help.
The apostle Paul sheds light on what motivates him and helps him hang on to his contentment “whatever the circumstances” in his letter to the Philippians chapter 4. He praises God and rejoices with fellow Christians even while he is imprisoned and in chains.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength.”
This comforting excerpt from the Bible explains that no matter what life throws at you, whether it be losing your job or loved ones, whether you fall into bankruptcy or if you are forced to beg on the streets, or if disaster takes all your earthly “valuables,” or whatever may befall you, You are able to DO EVERYTHING with the help of God. To have Jesus is to have everything, but it is also to have the strength to overcome every single challenge that you encounter. God will give you what you need to survive the trials of this world if only you trust that He is in control and you don’t have to be. What trouble we would be in if we had to plan and coordinate all the intricacies of our complicated lives! We lack the ability to orchestrate all the little details in our lives and make sure that everything coincides smoothly together. I am glad that all I have to do is trust God and go along for the ride.
In summary, in order to always have true contentment in the midst of this world’s sadness, one must ensure that their happiness is independent of their surrounding circumstances. When you face hardship, you will still have the joy of knowing God is providing you with all you need. When you experience grief, you can be assured that God has something greater in mind for you and has an eternal, pain-free home waiting for you. This world can and will take what you value, who you love, and replace them with sorrow. But as long as Christ is your true source of contentment, you will never be without joy. No one can ever take the love of God away from you– EVER. In Christ you have everything, and you can do everything. So fear not, and go forth through this life with confidence knowing that you are not alone and never will be.