We pause and catch our breath when we hear of a friend's cancer diagnosis, or a child who has died way too young, or a deadly explosion at the finish line of a race. We vow to hold our children tighter, to live with no regrets. And we do slow down for a moment or two, until life starts racing by again and we have to run to catch up with it.
We hear older parents tell us that they wish they had enjoyed life more, that it all went by too fast, and we decide to learn from their experiences and slow down. We ponder the passing of time, perhaps shedding a few tears for all the milestones that have come and gone. And we again vow to live with no regrets, to savor each moment.
That perspective is good to keep in mind, but we do still have to live. Children need to be fed and clothed. Careers need to be managed so they can be productive and fulfilling. Houses need to be cleaned lest we end up on an episode of Hoarders. Life is time-consuming, and much of it is mundane. We can't escape the dailiness of it all. Nor should we--God gave Adam and Eve the garden to tend, good work to fill their days.
The question of what I would do today if this were my last day on
earth has to be balanced with the question of how I can prepare for
tomorrow in case this isn't my last day. I think it's about grasping and
loving the "heaven moments" AND the "have-to-dos." We don't want to
miss a moment to slow down and talk with someone we love, but we also
mustn't neglect putting dinner on the table.
I think living with no regrets is more about having a contented and grateful outlook than it is about anything else. My problem isn't that I don't realize my children are growing up too fast, my problem is that I spend too much time mourning that fact and feeling guilty if every day I spend with them isn't full of wonderful tea parties or exciting outings to the zoo. I look at the drops that are falling through my hands instead of the living water that remains.
The thing I will most regret is if I wish away all my daily tasks searching for some elusive life-without-regrets. I don't want to be guilted into despising the work I need to do. Living without regret means finding the rainbow in the dish soap, as Ann Voskamp reminds us, or savoring the sweet smile on my toddler's face as I help them get dressed. It's thanking God for hours of editing work, even if it does keep me from playing in the yard with the kids all day--and then really enjoying the 15 minutes I do have to play in the yard. God made us to need daily bread, so the work we have to put in to get that daily bread is every bit as sacred as the celebration of eating it.
Today, I will live without regrets by thanking God for every moment, the highs and the lows. I will rejoice in the simple things. I will enjoy my work. And I will live without the guilty voice inside that tells me to savor the time that slips through my fingers--living gratefully IS savoring.