We were on vacation last week. My husband and I took six grandchildren to the beach. I must admit I was a little nervous taking them where there is water everywhere and only two pair of eyes watching. We were fine of course. They had a ball, “surfing” in the ocean, building sand castles, swimming in the pools and sitting in the hot tub. We missed our adult children normally everyone would go but this year circumstances didn’t allow it.
One night walking back from the pool, one of my granddaughters pointed to a little girl standing on the steps of a pool. She said “Grandma, look at that little girl, she must not have anyone to play with- that’s sad”. I had noticed the little girl earlier. She had not moved from the spot she was standing in then. Her father was sitting in a chair not five feet away on his cell phone. He was not talking on it. He was just cruising the web or texting or playing a game. Did not even acknowledge his daughter just standing there – my granddaughter was right, it was very sad. You see, earlier when I passed by I overheard her ask her dad to swim with her. He said, you said you wanted to swim, swim. I wanted to shout, no, she wants you! Can’t you see. I wanted to walk up to him and tell him – children do not come out and say – I want to spend time with you. They say, “I want to swim”. If you only knew how easily life can change, you would put down that phone.
I watch people a lot. It’s one of my favorite things to do, people watch. Now, since Amanda’s death, I see things a whole lot different. I now see things from a different light. You know, that day something happens – you know exactly where you were, what you were doing, who you were with and how you heard- and it changes you forever. Sometimes the changes stick, sometimes they do not. Sometimes the changes are good, sometimes they are bad.
There are those who when “the day” happens they turn to drugs, drinking, or destructive behavior. There are those who when “the day” happens the light goes on, they realize life is too short to be selfish, they must pour their life into those around them, those God puts in their path. Somehow some good has to come out of all of this.
I have been both. I have not turned to drugs or drinking but I have had destructive thoughts and behaviors – mostly out of anger. I envy those who lose a child and say they don’t have the anger. They have forgiven those responsible for their child’s death. I envy those who say they never entertained angry thoughts. Boy, I have. At times, anger boiled within me. Especially when someone said or did something hurtful. I also have had times where I wanted to be left alone in my sorrow. Just leave me be.
But, (I love the word but!) thankfully the light did go on too. I know God has a plan for all of this. Will I see the good on this side of eternity? I do not know. I know, I figured out a few things. Life is not meant to be spent making a living. Life is not meant to be lived selfishly. Life is what God has given you at this moment. Life is to be poured into others. Especially, children. Life is not always fair, not always good, not always easy, not always fun. But, life lived beyond yourself, life lived with a purpose, life lived for God is rewarding and meaningful. Want to be happy?- live for the Lord, put others above yourself, be gracious to the poor, follow His path. It’s not the “happiness” the world promotes – it’s the joy only the Lord can give.
Every morning while on vacation as the children woke up, I gave each one a big hug, kissed them and told them the Lord has blessed me this morning waking up with you in the same house. I told them over and over how happy I was the Lord gave us this moment, this activity, this day with them. I want them to cherish the time they have with people who love them and who they love. I want them to grow up and know without a doubt, I love them and I love spending time with them, talking with them, laughing with them, and that there is not a whole lot more important than they are to me. I want them to know God loves them far beyond anything they can comprehend. I want them to know there is a far greater purpose in life than making a living. I want them to know there are far greater things in life than toys. I want them to know you have to sacrifice your own desires and wants for far greater blessings. There is an eternal purpose for life. There is a lot of teaching going around that is just wrong. I want them to know that too.
God is not a give me this and I’ll give you that, God. God is holy and just and true. God does not promise you a bed of roses, but He does promise to see you through, to be with you. God has given us His one and only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. God has given us a way to spend eternity with Him. Jesus did not live an easy life. What makes us think we are entitled to one? The disciples did not have an easy life. What makes us think we are entitled to one? I want my grandchildren to know – life may not be easy, but it can still be good, it can still be happy, it can still be abundant, it does have a purpose.
Along with others, walking this journey of A Parent’s Worst Nightmare, I want for us this greater purpose. We are not alone. God is on our side and we have each other. We can have joy only the Lord can give. A good, giving, abundant purpose. Life lived in the now moments and the good memories – giving us joy and happiness which can only be obtained purposefully. We must set our minds on things above where moth and rust cannot corrupt.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Spend time with someone you love today. Do not let Satan win. God is victorious! We are not alone.