don’t waste your life.

some days, i just need some time to myself.  i’m an introvert. i love people. i love relationships. i love quality time. but some days–all i need is a few hours. to have some lunch. to get a hair cut. to run random errands. so that’s what i did yesterday.

i took a book, and bought some lunch, and sat in a chicfila booth in north charleston, and pondered life.

last year, i began reading don’t waste your life with a small group i was a part of in birmingham, but then i left for camp over the summer, and i never finished it.  so i ate my chicfila sandwich and read, and asked myself a lot of hard question.

what does it mean to waste your life?  am i wasting my life?  are all my dreams so minute and meaningless and small that i’ve lost the bigger picture of what’s really important, and what’s really out there, and where i’m really called?

i saw a lot of really “normal” people while i was at chicfila.  in the booth in front of me, two women sat–one with a baby.  the friend held the baby while the mother finished her lunch. i have no idea who these people are, or what they do, or if they’re wasting their lives.  but at that moment, yesterday, the friend was selfless, was loving, was the kind of friend i’d want to have if i were eating at a restaurant with my kid. she wasn’t wasting that moment.

i saw a father bring in his handicapped son for lunch, and order his food, and eat lunch with him. their conversation was beautiful. i thought about all of the moments this father has probably sacrificed for his son, because of his condition. some people might say he’s wasted his life and his chance–but i don’t think he’s wasting his life at all.  loving someone selflessly isn’t a waste–even if means sacrificial living. even if it’s difficult.

it’s easy to look and wonder at other peoples’ lives, but i often wonder if i’m wasting mine.  i know i’m in seminary.  i know i want to do ministry.  but sometimes i wonder if i’ve gotten so comfortable with the idea of staying in the southeast, having insurance and benefits, being within driving distance of my family and friends, one day getting married and having children…that i’m wasting my life too.  it’s not that these are bad things alone.  they’re not terrible or awful.  seminary is good. a benefits package is good–ask anyone who doesn’t have insurance.  spouses, and kids, and families–these can be wonderful additions to anyone’s life.  but have these dreams and hopes and ambitions tied me down so much that i’ve forgotten what it means to live radically in obedience, and to surrender regardless of the call?

a couple of weeks ago, i heard the song “boston.” i thought about how, just a few years ago, my dream was to finish seminary, pack everything up, and move into an incredibly large city. to know no one, and to love people, and do ministry, and build community. to ride public transit, and invite strangers into my home, and love the least of these.  i don’t know who that girl is anymore.  the thought of moving alone to a huge city, even one that i love like boston, completely overwhelms me.

have i forgotten who i am? or, am i becoming more of who i am? have i sacrificed all else for happiness, safety, and security? am i living my own dreams, and looking to my own plans, instead of the will of the Lord?  i don’t know.

the greatest comfort came yesterday as i finished the first chapter of piper’s book: the reminder that, to be in the will of the Lord, means true joy which breaks the barriers of circumstances.  i will not find true joy and contentment in seeking my own plans. those are only fleeting pleasures which pass away…quickly.

so i take a deep breath. i press ahead. i seek, and i search, and i pray. i don’t want to waste my life, and the few moments i have on earth, to have a few seashells i can show the Lord in heaven, gathered for my own pleasure and gain.

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