Monday, May 18, 2009

Live Like You Were Dyin

I recently had a conversation with a dear friend who, at just the right moment, reminded me of what really matters. I was explaining to this amazing woman that I was feeling a bit stressed, trying (as always) to balance all the good things in my life. As I have reached the stage in my life where I am no longer either pregnant or nursing a baby, I have had the opportunity to begin work on achieving some of my other aspirations a little at a time, as motherhood allows. Although it has been fulfilling, I have also noticed an added measure of stress as I have worked hard to use my time wisely and balance my responsibilities in such a way as to achieve peace and joy (Lofty goal, I know).

As I rehearsed my list of recent responsibilities to a woman who is extremely busy, I felt a bit small. Here I was, going on and on about feeling overwhelmed to a lady I love and admire, a lady who, from the first moment I talked with her, had won my friendship and trust with her positive energy and sweetness, a lady who is extremely valuable to many people (me included), a lady who recently lost her husband in a sudden, tragic accident--and I knew as the words spilled from my mouth, I was off-base.

She listened carefully, and then with the love and sweetness that so characterizes Karen, she said something like, "Just remember to give your best to your little ones. You're a mother first, and your children are relying on you, so don't let the other stuff take over." A twinge of regret pained my heart at having acted as if my role as mother wasn't my most important job as she told me how hard she had worked the eighteen months before her husband died. She was working 70-80 hour weeks in an effort to pay off bills and save money for them to go on a mission together--a wonderful aspiration--but, in the end, her sweetheart was taken unexpectedly and prematurely, and she wished for those hours back.

A lump in my throat, I thanked her for the poignant reminder, grateful for her words of wisdom and her example. What I wanted to say, but didn't, is that it's a lesson I've already learned, a lesson I've promised myself over and over to never forget, but somehow, in the midst of every day life, with many things clamoring for my time and attention, it's very easy to find myself getting caught up in the thick of thin things.

But I know better.

When I was only eleven, our elementary school was held hostage, and my mother faced the possibility of losing three of her five children in one fail swoop. I can only imagine what thoughts raced through her mind for those three hours when it looked like her family might be drastically reduced; I am sure she spent time thinking back on the past few days and weeks leading up to that moment, wondering if she had used her time wisely where we were concerned. I learned that day that life is a gift; I also learned it is more fragile than any of us realize, and if we don't take advantage of our time TODAY, it might not be ours for the taking tomorrow.

One thing my mother did that day was read the scriptures with us, pray with us and hug us goodbye, telling us she loved us as we left for school. And as I sat in that classroom that afternoon, I was so thankful for that. I am certain it helped me have more faith and peace as I faced a terrifying, uncontrollable situation. And so, I do the same each day as my children leave for school. I have learned that you just never know what the day will bring--what joy and growth, or what tragedy and sorrow--so you have to make the most of each moment, and cherish each opportunity. You have to live like you were dyin.

Now, in saying that, I certainly don't believe in living in fear, waiting for a natural disaster or tragedy to strike. I'm only saying I believe in putting first things first, in making each moment count, in making time each day to take a step back and realize how great you've got it, soaking up each stage of your life and your kids' lives, so that, heaven forbid, if something were to ever happen to any of you, there would be peace.

It's something I'm not perfect at living, but I think about it every day and hope I never forget. Life is a gift. My life. My husband's life. My children's lives. And we're simply not in charge of when it's gone. But we are in charge of how we live it each day--of how we spend our time, how we treat people, and how we show our love. So, I hope that I never have to be reminded again to put first things first--to be, above all else, a mother and wife--because I truly believe nothing else is more important.

Indeed, I hope to appreciate each day, to take advantage of each teaching, loving moment, to laugh more and frown less--to live like I was dyin.


Becky said...

Thanks for the reminder Lori. I have always loved the my mother read us the scriptures over breakfast, but now I know that I have to do the same for my girls.

Rachelle said...

Oh my goodness, thanks for sharing this! It's so hard to live each day to the fullest and not feel guilty about all the things we didn't get done each day, but in the end it's family that matters and nothing else. :)
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Ange said... what you're saying is that the 3 hours I spent ironing today probably wouldn't go down as quality mothering moments? (well, atleast everyone is wrinkle free :)

I definitely need the reminder. Often.

You're awesome!

Cathy Witbeck said...

Getting caught up in the thick of thin that's a neat quote. You have a way with words, Lori.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

Nichole Giles said...

Wow, great reminder for me, too. It's way too easy to get caught up in superficial things and forget the more important things. You're right. This life is definitely a gift.