A Christian radio station has recently aired this sentiment: “Three keys to surviving fall….” and then they add pumpkin bread or apple crisp as key #1, and then apple cider or pumpkin spice latte as key #2, and lastly the name of the radio station as key #3. They have played it over and over again and each time the one word that stands out to me is SURVIVING. Why do I want to just survive fall? Why don’t I want to truly LIVE through this beautiful season? (And to think that the key to that journey is a piece of bread or a drink- both of which I like-but are undeserving of occupying the position of helping me through life. But that is for another blog.)
One definition of the word “survive” is to endure or live through. Endurance is good in seasons that are difficult but what if are overall approach to life is one of just getting through it? We are missing out. On a lot. I have been through times when survive was all I could do. Post partum depression was one long waiting game, hoping I would pull out of it and survive. Literally. That I would still be alive when the anti-depressant started to work. I am thankful I did survive. Survival is understandable when circumstances stretch us to our limits for a time.
But what about when survival has become a way of life? When we check out from our own existence? We numb ourselves with shopping, volunteering, drinking, or traveling just to stay busy enough to not really think about truly living? When we are just going through the motions?
We were all created with PURPOSE. Not the kind the world tries to sell you- being beautiful, fit, and put together. I am talking about real purpose. The kind that calls us to action on someone else’s behalf. We were made to seek God and His best. But we settle for what the world sells us- BUSYNESS. Running in a million directions to meet all the standards of good parents and good spouses and somehow we lose our direction, our purpose. And we succumb to survival. Grin and bear it. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps for one more concert and one more baseball game and one more PTO meeting- none of which are bad things at all- but have we lost our way in the process?
How do we choose LIVING over surviving? I learned it from my friend, Kristen Milligan. She had terminal cancer for almost ten years and could have chosen many ways to spend it. But she understood the importance of being ALIVE even when she was dying. She reached out to everyone around her, loved the one in front of her, and started an amazing nonprofit organization, Inheritance of Hope. I used to tell her that she did more while she was dying than most people will ever do while they are living.
To really live our lives, we have to stop numbing our pain. We have to get real with our past, our emotions, and our life circumstances and make true peace with them. Facing disappointments and hurts that we have carried like luggage with us everywhere we have gone. Not peace keeping but the kind of peace the Bible talks about- “peace that passes understanding.” And from there we move out into the world in strength.
And then we have to approach life with hope and expectancy. Maybe you feel like there is nothing to be hopeful about. I challenge you to find one thing. Even if it is super small. But please don’t make it a pumpkin spice latte or a piece of banana bread. Something like hope for a great conversation with a friend or a time of worship. God will come through for you.
And from there we need to get outside of our little lives and our little families and our little churches and BE LIGHT where there is darkness. Ask God to take you to the dark and He will. Guaranteed.
Why do we settle for surviving? Maybe because we are scared to step out and be different. Maybe we are too self absorbed. Maybe we just don’t want to.
The world needs us to leave our comfort zone and stand for justice, goodness, and righteousness but we are too busy standing for status, money, and comfort.
Are you ready for a change?