we would be more tender when we bid our friends goodbye.
~Marie Louise De La Ramee
It is my experience that too often life takes a strange turn and we end up in a strange place, a place we never expected or planned. Whether good or bad, changes are wrought and people come and go out of our lives.
I hate goodbyes. You, too?
In the midst of inter-personal upheavals, I always consider the fact that we only have today to live, as we are certainly not guaranteed tomorrow. I guess I have to admit that I arrogantly don't want to fear anything, but I definitely do fear this; that something unalterable might happen to those around me and I won't be afforded the opportunity to make things right. Harsh words are spoken, things ignored, feelings disregarded...and then the unthinkable happens. The diagnosis. The accident. The last day.
The lost opportunities.
Selfish, I suppose, to fear that I won't be able to fix a situation enough to avoid ghosts pointing their fingers at me in admonition of what could have been if only I acted sooner. Woulda-shoulda-coulda will be their chant, mocking me. I live with the constant knowledge that the time to act is now. NOW.
With each passing day of a trial, I consider how I would feel, what would I do, if that person I love dearly died, or that estranged friend lost a loved one. Emotions swirl around death and tragedy, and to add strained relationships is a dangerous mix. (And, I most certainly would show up to give my support, prayers and love - no doubt of that.) I shudder at the thought.
It is this fear that drives my actions every single day. "Live like it is your last" is something I take most seriously. I try to make things right, humbly apologize, diligently pray, and be aware and cautious of hurting feelings. Does this make the fear subside? Not when dire situations of broken relationships surround me, that's for sure.
As a dear friend has correctly pointed out, I am definitely a 'words of affirmation' type of person. To that end, my feelings for those around me is verbalized...frequently. Words like "I love you", "I appreciate you" and "what can I do for you" are regular phrases in my conversations. But do these words help or not? I'm not so sure, as I think oftentimes most are uncomfortable with open honesty. Unfortunately, I just can't help it, I'm sorry to say; I cannot take the chance that I won't get another opportunity for them to know my heart. I don't ever want anyone in my life to wonder how I really feel about them. The car goes out of control and they never know that I appreciated their sweet spirit and needed them in my life. Or, an unexpected heart attack takes their last breath and I desperately relive the last conversation, hoping against hope that I told them "I love you" before saying goodbye for the last time.
So, one more time, I am begging for us all to remember to live like it is our last. Speak words of apology, affirmation and reconciliation to those that need it most. Show humility and kindness to those that may not deserve it in our view. Let's keep trust-killing thoughts of harsh judgment, criticism and condemnation to ourselves and ask to be shown how the LORD views those in our lives. We all have the power to eliminate hurt and the pain of loss from the lives of others with simple care and attention. I pray that the LORD enable me to speak love and life into all those that I have the privilege to know, even those that are simply passing through. Because we never know when our opportunity to do so will vanish like a vapor, lost forever.