It's something that's so broad it can't be defined. And when we try, we do a pretty bad job of it - probably because the majority of us live in nice little organized bubbles filled with people that are either in the same grade, the same field, the same stage of life, or the same lifestyle. Just lots of You's, and all right now. Too few differences, and we only see what we know.
And not once has Death dealt its blow in the same room I was in, forcing me to grasp the brevity of my body's ability to keep functioning.
After 23 probably-a-bit-stranger-than-yours years, and the past 47 days sleeping in strangers' houses, my mental projection of future-Life is fuzzier than the antique radio you just picked up at Goodwill.
The primary lesson I've learned is that there is no normal. Every single person (and family) is a wildly unique, intricate mess - and there are no two alike. When you start crossing state lines, belief systems, extreme family histories, and life stages, most of them are so different you experience a mild level of culture shock. (47 consecutive days and nights of baby culture shocks translates to permanent jet-lag, in case you were wondering.)
I'm not faced with the widow's regret. I haven't experienced 50 years of working a "good" job, waking up to realize that my priorities were all out of line. I can't chase Corporate America for 40 years to see if I can break six figures, and then go back to try chasing radical relationships and spur of the moment adventure for 40 more to see if I feel more fulfilled that way.
We don't get do-overs in life. We get to choose one way of living, and that's all we've got.
So what is at our core, that we can truly cling to and live by?
Do you have a life mission? A goal? Something bigger than you that you're working for? Something worth making sacrifices over?
If someone gave you an index card and asked you to write down the purpose of your life, could you?
I'm not bringing anything new to the table today. We've been told our whole lives that money can't buy happiness, that love makes the world go round, and now in this generation that quitting your 9-5 job is going to catapult you into a kickass life worth blogging about.
But catchphrases aren't enough. Quitting your job doesn't guarantee you a purpose if you didn't have one already. It just guarantees less money, and a schedule so flexible it's almost panic-attack inducing. Quitting your job is only worth it if it's a sacrifice you're making for a very specific life God has called you to.
Because it's not what you're doing, it's how you're doing it.
When my road splits, I have to have some sort of foundation to make decisions by. I need to have pre-determined truths and priorities that I know I will fight to keep present in my daily life.
I know that 4 years ago I wrote on an index card, "that she would show love, grace and compassion to everyone she met, regardless of what was shown to her." That's what I want people to say of me when I die. Because I don't know if I'll die at the hands of a crazy tribe warrior, or silently in my own million dollar home. But I've decided that either way, I'll die happy if people know me by that.
I know what I'll make sacrifices for: love, grace and compassion.
I want to keep those three things alive in everything I do. For the rest of my life. Whatever it looks like.
- - -
"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." I Peter 3:7-9
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12
- - -
Note: This post was triggered by an incredibly awesome late-night table discussion with some good people I've been hanging out with this week in Savannah, GA. Josh Lind runs The Fusionist, and we ended up all making a list of 10 things that make our life worth really living. You know, the things that you remember experiencing, and you know in your heart of hearts that life is truly good? My list is over at The Fusionist. Please take a moment to read my guest post there, and leave your 10 things!
- - -
Are you following me on Twitter? Do it here: @laurenlankford
Be a fan on Facebook. It's the best way to keep up. Do that here.