Yesterday was my birthday. The older I am, the more reflective I become at milestones such as anniversaries and birthdays. The closer I get to 50 (still in the future but looming ever nearer), the more I seem to wrestle with life choices: what do I really want to do with my life, how do I want to be remembered, what can I do that will make a difference, and what changes ought I to be making to better utilize my gifts and the time I have on this earth? These are all questions that come to the forefront of my mind during these times of contemplation.
Looking back, I remember accomplishments of which I am proud, such as returning to school after a 13 year hiatus to complete a Masters Degree with 4 children ages 12 to 1 underfoot. But, strangely, as proud as I was to have completed that degree, and to walk across that stage to accept my diploma, there was something else that happened on that day that made me even prouder.
Shortly before the graduation ceremony there was a reception for the graduates and their families with the faculty and staff of the school. I was pleased to have the opportunity for my husband and four sons (then ages 16 to 4) to attend this function with me. Several of the professors took the time to congratulate all of my boys, husband included, for their help in my accomplishment, recognizing the sacrifice that our entire family had made. It was an enjoyable time with my teachers, classmates, family, as well as additional faculty and staff, including the school President.
A short time later, we all assembled in the auditorium for the graduation ceremony. My name was called and I proceeded across the stage. Imagine my surprise when I shook the President’s hand and he leaned in to say, “You have very well behaved boys.”
Oh, how my heart swelled. On a day when I was being publicly recognized for an accomplishment the world values, I was privately commended for something which I valued even more.
Last night, reflecting on life on my birthday eve, my husband shared a verse with me that puts life contemplations into perspective. Ecclesiastes 9:7ff. encourages, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Looking back on my life choices I realize the blessings of a life lived in relationship with God. Looking forward, this verse also gives me a plumb line to live life fully. As I read further in Ecclesiastes 9, I realize that I can relieve a lot of the pressure I have felt in making my life choices so complicated and monumentally heavy by following the words of the writer.
It is not so much about what we choose to pursue as it is about doing well with whatever we choose.