My favorite podcast listeners gather each Friday for Donuts and Devotional. They are the residents of an assisted living facility in St Louis. They’re coming to the end of their life, now unable to live on their own, most having lost their spouse, and their perspective is of tremendous value to us younger whipper snappers. (And I say younger, meaning if you’re not in your mid-eigthies yet.)
I had the honor of surprising my favorite listeners and visiting in person while in their area. The lessons I learned from Margaret, Bev and Jack are still with me today.
Margaret sat beside me at lunch. She was a classy, wealthy woman in her late eighties with tremendous style. In her room at the facility she had a purse tree where she hung her prized pretty purses. She wore big, dark sunglasses and a perfectly groomed golden wig.
Margaret shared with me the legacy of her husband. He was a successful businessman who had worked hard in his career, earned a lot of money, and saved up all his joy for retirement. He died of a heart attack the day after he retired. She has been alone for 30 years, never having children, only left with her husband’s money.
Oh how all of this we work so hard for will one day be gone. The bible warned us how the moths and thieves would destroy it all, yet we get sucked into the trap of earning more so we can buy more, believing one day we’ll come to this magical place in life where the demands will be lighter, the stresses will be fewer, and we’ll savor all we’ve worked so hard for. I call BS! You grow old and your body gets tired.
Margaret told me all she really wanted to do is sleep in late and have an afternoon nap. What are you saving up your joy for? What are you saving up your energy for? Do you have some kind of mega event in the near future requiring all your stores of unused energy and unlived moments? No, no you don’t. There is no such storehouse. You’re in a use it or lose it game here folks. Use your energy, or lose it. Seize your opportunities, or watch them pass you by. Live your moments, or regret it later.
Bev, also in her late eighties had bright eyes and a positive spirit. She had something good to say about everything. Joy oozed from this woman. I wanted to pull my seat closer and let her rub off on me.
And then there was Jack. The one male listener. The one who most looked forward to hearing this podcast on Fridays with his donut.
Jack was a CPA in his former life, a husband of over 60 years to a woman who, when remembered, still brought tears to his eyes. He only came out of his room for meal time, devotional time, and a handful of other scheduled events. He was a talker, a thinker, and within his head he reliveed his 87 years of life.
His question to me was how do you overcome jealousy. His question struck me odd, then he explained. Everyday he sat by his 3rd story window and he looked out on the world. He watched others living their lives, and he was jealous he no longer had the ability to do what they do. His words have replayed in my mind a hundred times since meeting him. He said, “when you get my age, all you can do is sit here and think about it.”
Perhaps there were things Jack wanted to do in his prime that he didn’t do. So he sat thinking and regretting. There were things he enjoyed in his younger years, and oh how he wished he could have them back just for one more day. But he couldn’t. His memories were his only remaining treasure. And he was tortured by all he didn’t do, and all he couldn’t do.
Understand my friend, if you are given the gift of a long full life, your day will come when your roll is slowed to the push of a walker. When you sit, and you think, and all you can do is remember when. When he was still alive. When they were still at home. When you could do this, and enjoy that.
The day of our old age is coming. It’s a movie in progress, and Jack warned me, it all goes so fast. He shared with me his vivid memories of 8th grade. His favorite memories of marrying his wife. His days of being a CPA. And all he wished he would have done, or could still do.
When your moment in front of the window looking out on life comes, what will you be thinking of? Today, you have an abundance of opportunities, but don’t be fooled by their presence in your life … they won’t always be there.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
What season of life are you in? A season of hustle and bustle, a season of messes and stresses, a season of high mountaintops and breakthroughs, a season of low valleys and long nights? A season of love, or a season of loss? There is a time for it all, and your time for it all will come. My sister, I beg of you, be here for this season. You won’t always have this. It is precious and it is fleeting.
One day you’ll only remember it and talk about it. Today you get to decide if you’ll remember it with pleasure of all you did, all you savored, and all you created … or will there be a tinge of jealousy for the better days that have now passed and those who are savoring them better than you did.
Today is once again Donuts and Devotional in that St Louis retirement home. Bev and Jack will not be listening. Their time on Earth has been completed since I visited. Beautiful Margaret with her fancy wig and designer purses still awaits her reunion with her husband who died the day after he retired.
I’ve heard we all have 2 lives. The life we live and the life unlived. How much of your life will be unlived? How much of this season will be wasted for you? Remember, God created you with tremendous potential and everyday of your life he has lavished upon you opportunities to step into it. Don’t miss it!
Galatians 6:9 tells me “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Show up and do good with your life today. Don’t give up today. One day you’ll only have a memory of this season, make sure you get to reap a good harvest from it!