Human mortality is a weird aspect of life. When someone goes, the people they leave behind are always on their backs. They are forced to think about how one day someone was there, and now they are not. The most disturbing thing about this sad event is the idea that it is so regular. I’ve got news for you, every person who has stepped foot on Earth has left. It’s unavoidable, sadly. I heard a quote some time ago (I forget who said it) that really put this into perspective: “We as humans are dying from birth. When we come out of the womb, we begin a race towards death, whether we are ready for that or not.” When people have to contemplate their impending “doom,” they begin what really is one of the most intense varieties of existential crisis possible: did I live my life to the fullest? Did my time on Earth go down as a waste, or will my actions be remembered as worthwhile? These questions are what inspired me to blog today, as I am in the middle of such a time.
This weekend, I went to a funeral. Not just any funeral, one for a friend who lost her life earlier than she should have. Well, by my opinion anyway. She was an eighteen-year old senior in high school, and was killed in a tragic car accident on October 19th. This girl had potential. She was prepping for college, and a pretty vibrant adult life, only to be stopped by a man who couldn’t put away his phone to drive twenty minutes. Understandably, everyone was shocked. A lot of people got really mad, a lot of people were really sad, and just about everybody had to take some time to work through this problem. This was a weird week for me. I have lost friends at young ages. I can think of five or six off the top of my head that went before they should have, but none of them hit me quite as hard as this loss did. It may be that I was a lot closer to the situation this time around, or maybe it was compassion for the family of this young girl. I’m not really sure, and honestly I don’t think I’ll ever know. This loss just hit me like a ton of bricks.
As I went to her viewing, I really started to think about the reality/inevitability of loss and how beliefs can change the responses of people around the situation. I watched people who were notoriously anti-religion question how a “God who was so just would let this happen to a poor girl,” or people on the other end of the spectrum who were incredibly hopeful, saying that eternity for her would be a time of great peace and wonder in Heaven. Responses were all over the spectrum. I understand all of them, oddly enough. I’ve had days where I really question what God’s plan is for loss like this, and I’ve had days where I just need to drop to my knees and have faith. I have learned that in these situations, reliance on God is a lot better than questioning Him. I think to a time where I was reading about Job, a man who lost everything. Instead of cursing God, he had faith. He questioned why this happened, as any human would, God put him in his place, and then he began the process of embracing the plan that God had for him. It is hard to think that God is using loss, but I can confidently say that loss almost never ends in a way that destroys someone. Every time I have experienced loss, I have come closer to God. Death puts you on your knees, and helps you to see reality more clearly. Death helps us to understand the importance of life, and the importance of eternity.
As we gain this perspective from loss, we see the need for hope. We see the need for something to hold on to, something to lean on. I would submit to you, the reader, that the best source of hope is in Christ Jesus. You can stop reading now, if you feel like this is so greatly going to offend you. You may have other coping mechanisms, but I feel pretty confidently that this one is pretty great. If you do decide to keep reading, however, I would really appreciate it. When it comes to loss, or really any other aspects of life, leaning on Jesus has its advantages. Having an infinite source of hope provides a sense of security that doesn’t come otherwise, Having a source of hope like that can allow us to walk through our lives without fear of the future, because we know that there is a security in our eternity. As I looked at the girl during the viewing, I remembered that she was a Christ-follower, and a passionate one at that. She was gone, and I believe firmly that her soul is in Heaven for all of eternity. Knowing that brings me a great amount of peace.
With the understanding of death and its inevitability, we must pursue a full life. We are not given an excuse to live like fools, but I feel like we must pursue God and ask Him to use us to the fullest before we go. We must live, laugh, and love, and make sure that we don’t have regrets when we leave this earth. Carpe Diem, or seize the day, is the phrase that comes to mind as I contemplate life. My hope is that when we leave, we are known for having lived a vibrant life, full of passions and excitement, and a hope that can only be found in Jesus. When I die, I want people to see how God used me throughout my life, and how His power impacted the people I was around. I hope that people will see me as someone who lived and died well.
Existential debates are okay, everyone needs to understand what they are doing. I pray that as you see life and loss, you will become more aware of your own existence and how to live better. As you look at a grave, you see a date of birth, and a date of death, with a dash in-between. As cliche as it may sound, the dash in-between those two numbers may be the most important aspect of a tombstone that isn’t discussed. My question for you as the reader is as follows: when you die, what will the people you left say about what you did with your dash? Will it matter? When you are in eternity, what will the people on Earth remember you by? I remember Heather for her tenacity, and for her passion about the different elements of her life, mainly for her faith. Will people remember you for what you did, or what God did through you?
Food for thought:
“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening,
I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken
life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the
quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the
gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure
the most precious gift I have – life itself.” – Walter Anderson.