looking ahead · no regrets

Growing Old Without Regrets

Today as I sat in church, I caught a glimpse of my dad sitting at the end of a bench about half way to the front. I was struck by how white his hair is! Was that truly my dad? I had to look twice. My dad suddenly has considerably more white than dark hair and although I see him at least once a week usually, I would not have described him before today as having such white hair. It’s one of those things in life that changes so slowly, little by little each day, that we don’t really notice until something happens that wakes us up and catches our attention.

As I looked around the church pews, I took note of other friends and family through new eyes. I saw that my mother-in-law has white hair as well and people almost my age who already have what could be described as salt and pepper hair!

It was almost a surreal feeling and I had to shed a few tears as I thought of how old my parents are getting! They’re only in their early sixties; my dad turns sixty-four this week but suddenly I had a little vision of how quickly time goes and how soon my parents will be in their seventies and then their eighties.. and how much more I want to be with them, learn from them, say to them.

Time flies so fast! If we don’t consciously make time for the things we really want to do, chances are we’ll find the time and opportunity has passed before we really wake up to the fact.

I want to live with intention. I want to parent with intention and with great love. I want to honor my husband every day and love him fiercely and with abandon. I want to love each of my family – my parents, siblings, and in-laws – well and without regret. I want to be a true friend and cherish my friends.

I don’t always know what this looks like in the day-to-day. While my parents and siblings are truly dear to me, as the fourth child in a family of six children I have “middle child syndrome” and at times I’ve found myself unconsciously and unintentionally placing a bit more importance on friends than family. But since becoming a mom and growing more involved with my own little family, I find myself also having increasing difficulty tending friendships the way I’d like to.

At home of course I find it difficult as well to consistently prioritize the people who are nearest and dearest to me. I begin to feel that I am not loving well on any of my dearest friends and family.

Is there an answer to this? I’m not sure… But I do know one thing: if I don’t intentionally make my time count, it will usually by default be spent in ways I will not look back on with pride. I will have regrets, far too many of them.

In this fast-paced society we live in, its easy to allow ourselves to feel that any kind of rest or slowing down is a luxury.

We worry that we might be lazy if we make time to just be…

If we make time to laugh and play with our children for an hour or two.
If we run to our mom’s or a friend’s house just for tea.
If we take an entire day off with our husband to simply be together.
If we take a weekend to seriously contemplate our life goals and evaluate our priorities.

No one wants to be considered lazy.

But who can risk facing old age with a lifetime of regrets? I know I can’t.

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