Over the past few years I have attended far too many family funerals. The latest person in my family to pass on was my stepsister. She was in her late 50s. In my opinion, she was far too young to die.
Her death has affected me in a different way from most of the others since she was from my generation. With her death, I feel the weight of the brevity of life, and it has been making me frantic.
It’s the same feeling I get when I’m working on a deadline or have to be out the door by a certain time. When I feel this way, instead of accomplishing what’s needed, I make mistakes or distract myself with frivolities. (The more overwhelmed I feel the more likely I am to hide away and read a book.)
Ultimately, I get what’s needed done but I end up feeling stressed and anxious in the process. My reaction is akin to running down the street screaming nonsense words while trying to balance my business accounts.
The news of my stepsister’s death has kicked that reaction into hyperdrive. I know the plans I have, and I know I have wasted many of my hours in anxiety or purposelessness. Now I fear my time will not be long enough to accomplish my goals. I fear I will waste my days fretting or working on the wrong goals.
I’ve been here before. I know I have to do what feels counterintuitive and stop my striving and take some time to reset my goals and expectations. The Judeo-Christian Scriptures say in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
That verse says to me that if I don’t live intentionally, I am not wise. However, life lived with intention alone is drudgery. I know, I’ve tried it. The Scriptures say in Ecclesiastes 2:22-24, “What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”
For fullness of life, regardless of the number of my days, I must live with intention, and also in joy and gratefulness. Such an attitude brings peace, not frenetic behavior. Part of my intention includes living as whole a life as possible through whatever time remains to me. My only regret is it has taken me this long to realize that.
Leave a comment below with what your “go to” behaviors are when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, and what you do to alleviate the anxiety, and let’s get stronger together.