Last night, I was washing my face in the bathroom when I heard a whisper in my heart: “Suppose tomorrow night you fell asleep and never woke up. What could you reasonably do in the next 24 hours that would make tomorrow a worthwhile last day on earth?” As you can imagine, I was a bit taken aback by the question- who asks that of a person while they’ve got soap lather in their eyes anyway? Oh wait. I know exactly Who. So as I’m rubbing my face dry with that old tan towel, I ponder it. The first thing that comes to mind is my bucket list. I’m a idealist visionary, so I’ve had one for as long as I can remember. But then I realize that the question included an adjective: reasonably. So here’s some things I could not do in the next 24 hours:
- Work in a medical clinic in East Africa (I might be able to make it to Heathrow Airport in London, but that’s a long shot and who wants to die in the customs line?)
· Get married (In my normal life, I can’t even get a date in the next 24 hours!)
· Feel a baby grow inside me
· Publish a book
· Graduate from college
· Learn Jujitsu (Yeah, you read that right!)
· Have a refuge room in my house and a hospitality ministry
· Spend a summer in Ireland
· Speak French
Hmmm. Well, that makes this bucket list thing a lot more difficult. As a matter of fact, I’m back to square one. After brainstorming, I came up with things that I could do:
· Notice how sunlight makes the grass glow iridescent green
· Ask God to protect my sisters’ futures and meet them in their present
· Call my mom and rejoice with her that God can make beauty out of ashes
· Write my dad a letter that tells him how much his sacrifices over the years mean to me
· Email the people I have hurt and ask for their forgiveness
· Let the sunset painted on a rose touch my heart
· Pray for God’s blessing on the people that I love and the ones I find hard to love
· Smile at my neighbor who rides his skateboard down the balcony at all hours of the day and night
· Hug my 2-year-old friend Bentley (if I can catch him)
· Blow off my homework and help file papers at the crisis pregnancy center
· Give all my savings to Samaritan’s Purse or Gospel for Asia and maybe to the people I know are struggling
· Sit next to the crying girl on the bench and tell her about a God who can heal the brokenness and the shattered pieces (it won’t matter if she thinks I’m weird)
All of the sudden, my bucket list looks so much narrower, so much more doable. And it makes me wonder why I’m not already doing it. I realize that I’m too busy doing important things to worry about stuff so little. But if my only future were tomorrow, the small stuff suddenly seems so much bigger and all the hours I spend doing important things are wasted time.
So why don’t I live that way? It’s because I’m scared. Scared to death that if I don’t get an A in Microbiology, I will jeopardize my career. That if I don’t graduate from college, I’ll be stuck in a miserable job. That if I’m not beautiful and charming and fiery and strong and perfect, no one will want me and I will have to spend the rest of my life alone. That if I don’t live a big life full of adventure, I will come to the end and feel insignificant. Fear is what causes the stress and anxiety, the late nights before a test, the constant safety measures to ensure success, the pleasing everyone- even the ones that aren’t in my life yet. Somewhere deep down, I am deathly afraid of making an irreversible mess of my life. So I fill it with blinding busyness that is supposed to eliminate the risk from my future.
But what if my only future were tomorrow? I feel the pressure and the fear seep out into a puddle on the bathroom floor (don’t worry, it’s not yellow). I want to be faithful to the important things—and my responsibilities are still among them. But I hope that I will one day they will cease to be insurance and begin to be blessings and ministry.
So now it’s tomorrow. And I still went to class this morning, but I noticed the roses on the way. And I called my mom to say just to say happy Friday. As soon as I’m finished writing, I’m going to study for my Viking World test. But I took a walk and enjoyed the cool breeze and the sunshine and the iridescent grass first. I want to learn to live in the balance of both of my futures- the one that’s imaginary and the one that is now.