"Oh. Your days are numbered. And it's all down hill from here."
A response to the question of "How old will you be on your birthday?"
Tomorrow, if the Lord is willing, I will turn 40 years old. I was born on August 15, 1972. Yes, I will say it again, 1972. I will be 40. Yes, I will tell you; I will be 40.
I will not be celebrating the 20th anniversary of my 20th birthday. I will not tell you I am 39-ish. I do not believe that 30 is the new 40. 40 is 40 is 40.
Wow. Sounds chipper right?
To me it does. I am looking forward to being 40. I told my children this morning at breakfast, "I get to be 40." And I mean it. I am truly thankful for seeing 40 tomorrow.
This has not always been my dream. To be 40. Of course I grew up hearing older women around me and their advice, "Don't ever ask a woman how old she is," "I am 40-ish," "You're only as young as you feel," and my personal favorite, "Amy, just don't ever get old." Hmmm. That's a hard one to stop.
You see, a couple of years ago, a great friend of mine died from a long battle with breast cancer. She was my age with two small boys and a great husband. Her death taught me one thing. Growing old was never meant to be a bad thing. Because the alternative, dying young, is not the better option. I think of her so often, mostly because her picture is in my medicine cabinet. We were both 29 in that picture with small boys, me with two and her with one, and a seemingly lifetime ahead of us. We talked often about meeting up with our boys at Texas A&M to watch them in the Corps of Cadets. We talked about their futures, who they would marry, and hopefully, one day be living close to one another. We thought so much about our futures and the futures of our children. Never once did we ever talk about, "What if we don't live that long." Never crossed our minds. It wasn't until my last phone call with her before her death that it really hit home. She was dying. She was not going to make it to the end of the year much less to the March Ins at Texas A&M. She wouldn't see baseball games, progress reports, graduations, weddings. She was going to miss out on the everyday stuff too, homework, parent teacher conferences, laundry, dinners, packing lunches. When I stand in crazy long lines at Walmart or while cleaning bathrooms or ironing...I think to myself...."She would love to be doing this." And she would've. That phone conversation caused me to hang up and instantly see life from a new perspective.
Her death touched me deeply. Her death got me thinking. It changed me. Because of her, I am more purposeful in my daily life.
As I see it, if the Lord allows me to wake up tomorrow, I can live for the day and plan He has for me in each moment, or I can wish life away. I can wish for simplier days or days of the future. But if that is my focus, what will I miss in the moment. How do I know what my tomorrow holds? If I did, would it change my today? I think that is the gift she gave me in her early departure from this life.
Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days
Let me know how transient I am
You see, if I live each day thinking, Oh, if I were just back in college....oh, if my kiddos were a older....oh, I can't wait for school to start....I miss moments God doesn't want me to miss. What will I miss that my kids will remember?
God knows my number of days. He knew each of them long before there was one of them.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me
When as yet there was not one of them.
I believe with all of my heart my sweet friend had a perfect grasp of numbering her days. She was given the opportunity to know the best guess of that number by her doctor. She didn't want to know. She wanted to live each day in the moment not looking forward to a day man was giving her. She told me in that conversation that life had not stopped, boys still had to get to games, school was still going on, bellies had to be fed. She did what she could, but said she did it savoring the "doing." Living the thankfulness of the moment.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Insead, you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
She believed in God's goodness in allowing her to keep her days numbered. To know that she would only be here for such a short time.
The same needs to be true for me. God doesn't want me living in the past or living with my eyes longing in the wrong way for the future. My desire is to be in the here and now. Enjoying the time I am given. Savoring the moments. Being thankful for my day and being thankful in my day.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to you a heart of wisdom.
So tomorrow I turn 40. If the Lord allows. Today I am thankful for 39. I am going to be thankful in my day. Thankful for my sweet children. Thankful that I found my one...and married him. My desire is for each day I am given, that I realize how transient I am. That I take each moment as a gift. That I am thankful for each day given. That I run my race well. That I make this life here count. That I remember to number my days.