When you reach the final days of your life, what will you look back and see?
What if your last day was tomorrow, would you wish you had made different choices today?
These are questions I’ve been asking myself the last couple of years. Why do people wait until their last days or a health scare to really start living? To change their perspectives and reprioritize? To become who they wished they’d been all along? I’m guilty too. Of not really l.i.v.i.n.g. right now.
Over the last few years — I’ve learned we make tons of choices everyday about how we will live our lives. We make those choices. I have a deep desire to make daily choices as though my days are numbered because I know it’s those little choices every day that add up to who we become in the end … but it’s harder than it sounds! When I spent time to reflect on 2015 I noticed many of my intentions had not been lived out. I said No to a lot (my 2015 Word) but I hadn’t taken action on the things that really pulled at my heart. My intention to get strong physically had passed me by another year. My desire to live a life of forgiveness & free of bitterness was elusive because I still entertained resentment from recent and not-so-recent hurts. Or my dream of becoming a visual artist with a unique style all my own … was still just a dream. I wasn’t putting in the time or taking the action needed to move forward in these areas. I want that to change.
As I thought about what 2016 might look like – I wondered – if I could put a deadline on my days maybe that would help put my choices into perspective and be more bold in living out my priorities. So … the ‘Part 2’ of my Brave is — to live like 2016 is my last year on earth. This has nothing to do with bucket lists or travel or life’s luxuries (although lovely). This is much more about a lifestyle of intention. If I have one year to live my days well, how will my choices be different? How will I respond differently to my spouse? How quickly will I forgive? Will I have more clarity regarding what’s really important? How will I parent my children? How will I spend my time? How will I invest in my family … and myself … and the people around me? Will I be more intentional about my need for friendship, connections, relationships? Will I eat differently? Will I pray differently? Will it change how I manage my finances? What will my legacy be at the end of 2016 — if I were to leave everything behind — and leave only how I lived?
People freak a little when I share this. But I don’t think it’s scary at all. It’s an adventure of awareness. It’s a listening exercise. It’s letting go of the small stuff as well as what feels like big stuff but is really small stuff when you only have one year left. It’s following through on the little tugs on my heart that continue to tug year after year. It’s really living my values and adding value to the lives of others.
I started exercising this mindset on New Year’s Day. The photo above is the “sunrise” on 1.1.2016. I knew I wanted to launch 2016 watching the first brand new sunrise of the year rather than end the previous year with noisemakers and fireworks. So, I slept while the world partied. Kiana and I set our alarm for the wee hours of the morning, packed up our hot chocolate, gathered a few brave friends, and started 2016 with the fresh brisk cold air in our lungs and the familiar grey of our midwest skies. Though it was overcast and cold, it was also calm and beautiful and quiet. I hope to make this an annual trek – watching the sunrise on the very first day of every brand new year.
This feels like an adventure. This intention for 2016 is more about an attitude of the heart than “living it up” and 2 months into 2016, the results of this new mindset are undeniable!
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12