|Photo by: Veri Ivanova
She grabbed me by the arm and asked, "How old are you, twenties?" (I immediately loved her even more!) I corrected her, and she replied that I am still young. She went on to remind me: "Enjoy your life. I am 91 years old, and I am near the end, but I've enjoyed my life. Enjoy yours." She is now battling cancer, but she continues to attend as many dance performances as she can.
There is so much wisdom in talking to friends in their nineties. They have seen in all, experiencing so much in 90 years. If we listen closely, maybe we won't make quite as many mistakes in our own lives. I loved her admonition to "Enjoy your life." So many days, we forget to do that. As they say, "The days are long, but the years are short." Some days, I am definitely not enjoying my life. Last week, I spent two sleepless nights getting up constantly as my sick two-year-old woke up and needed me to comfort her. I got frustrated and extremely tired. I wasn't enjoying myself. But there was a moment. During the 3:00 am wake-up, I laid her against my chest and rocked her in her chair. I gently sang and prayed over her. A beautiful moment as I remembered her infant days and enjoyed the closeness of our relationship.
I don't believe we are put on this earth to be happy. I believe there is more to strive for than a happy and safe life. I believe that I was put on this earth to love and serve the Lord and to encourage others with his love. This has not always put me in my happy place. I have been stretched out of my comfort zone, led to do things that weren't part of my personality type, and have been deeply hurt at times by other Christians. Serving God involves suffering, but it is incredibly fulfilling.
We may not be put on earth to be happy, but I do believe that God wants us to enjoy our time here. If he didn't, he would have made everything black and white, with cafeteria food and boring days. Instead, he created color. He made sets of trees to bloom in a different color each week. This year, I have enjoyed the pinks, the purples and the whites. He paints with glorious color. He directs a beautiful symphony of music. He created the majesty of animals in the wild and he paints us a glorious picture each morning and every evening as the sun rises and sets.
Part of enjoying our life is to remember this in any circumstance. A friend reminded me of that as she spoke about living in a hut in Africa in her twenties and being happier with people who were so content with their lives than she had ever been in the United States. I experienced this as well. On my first international mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I had one of the most profound moments of my life. As we arrived and walked up the side of a hill, we passed homes made of sticks and cracking mud, walked by babies covered in dirt and mothers cooking meager plates of food. We came to the clearing and heard the villagers singing to welcome us. They weren't running up to us and asking us to help or needing us to give them money. They welcomed us with joy and singing. I remember tears running down my cheeks as I realized this was real. Extreme poverty was real, just a plane ride away, and yet it came hand in hand with great joy. This was a defining moment in my life.
Remember to enjoy it. You only get one. You won't be happy every day. You may not be happy most days, but if you persevere, you will find deep joy and enjoy life as you fulfill your purpose.