It’s hard to fathom life without a subtle ache for what’s to come.
This was one of thoughts that came to mind as my family and I drove to the Atlanta airport last Saturday morning. We are in Tucson this week spending time visiting my family.
As we drove along, the topic of March Madness came up. I told my husband when the whole basketball tournament started my only thought about Arizona was, I sure hope they make it beyond the first couple of rounds. They’ve had a great season, I would just hate to see them go out in the first round.
And then when they won the first round, I noticed my thoughts changed to, wow, it sure would be nice if they made it to the Sweet Sixteen. That would be good enough. That would be cool.
And then when they made it to the Elite Eight, my thoughts changed again, “Wow, there’s a chance they could make it to the Final Four. Even if they didn’t win the whole thing, that would be really cool.”
Arizona lost last weekend. They had a great season, but this year won’t include a trip to the Final Four. I was a little disappointed. They’d had a great run. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Back to my first thought: It’s hard to fathom life without a subtle ache for what’s to come.
There will come a day when I will no longer have this tendency to hope for the “more” that lies ahead. The ache won’t be there anymore. I’m not talking about basketball anymore, by the way.
The “more” that we deeply yearn and hope for will, one day, be a way of life when we reach eternity. No more looking forward in the same way we have a tendency to look forward here. Again, I can’t even fathom how that will “feel.” What will complete and uninterrupted contentment be like? .
We know that the Apostle Paul came to a point where he lived his life content in whatever moment he was in: ”I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 11-13
In my old house back in North Carolina I taped those verses to my bathroom mirror shortly after we moved in. They were a constant reminder of one of my goals in life. I said I was going to leave them there until I was living it out everyday. We lived in that house for 11 years…and those verses remained there until the day we moved out.
I’m getting there…but I’m a long way from living this way every moment of everyday.
I’m thankful that life really is a journey toward the ultimate contentment. As much as I love my life, as much as I have learned to be thankful for today, I am equally thankful that when I take my final breath that subtle ache I have will be fully and forever satisfied.
This week, while visiting my dad, my goal has been to take him out of the assisted living home frequently to enjoy other things. We’ve gone to lunch and breakfast together this week. Yesterday, we picked him up and made the 80 mile drive down to his home, a trip he dreams about daily. Ever since having his stroke (nearly two years ago), he’s wanted nothing else but to live in his house again. But, because of the daily care he now requires, there is no way for him to stay alone and 24 hour in home care is not feasible.
As we drove along Interstate 10 my dad explained again what he told me the last time I visited him. ”He feels like he’s been sentenced to prison but he has no idea how long he will be doing time.”
As I thought about his statement, the words I wrote above came to mind. My dad’s life has changed so much. My dad doesn’t ache for what’s to come, he aches for what’s been taken away. He longs to have it back. And, if there was any way my brothers and I could let him have his life before back, we would.
I’m not in my dad’s shoes. I don’t know how it feels to be completely dependent on others, but I do know how gratitude can change even the worst of situations. I do know that gratitude, even in the midst of suck, is the only way to approach these types of circumstances.
When life does not play out the way you hope…you have to seek the beauty in the life you are given. You have to.
We all know or have heard of folks who do this well. The first person who popped in the my mind was Nick Vujicic, the man born without arms and legs. He lives a beautiful, joy-filled story. If he can do it, then you and I can do it too.
No, I have not walked in my dad’s shoes, but I know incredible beauty is still possible. I’ve seen God take the most painful experiences in my own life and turn them around for good. I know He is capable of doing this in my dad’s story too.
My prayer this week is that my dad will have eyes to see the beauty in his life. It’s there, I know it is.