Has anyone ever thought this? …I wish I could change the status of my life like I change the settings on my computer or my cell phone.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have uttered these words under my breath. “If only my life had a restart button, I would do so many things different.”
“… I’d do this better… I’d manage this more appropriately…I’d be more intentional regarding this…I’d make better decisions regarding that…”
When my grandma was dying she quickly started to fade into dependence on others (and God). In her final weeks and days, she lost her independence and her ability to take care of herself, but she never lost her spirit. My grandma was always so strong and independent; she rarely asked for help and even lived alone for an additional five years after my grandpa had passed away…without transportation, technology or a “restart” button on her life. She enjoyed quality time with friends and family (especially with me!), loved to cook, sing, dance, read her Bible, pray and bring joy to others.
The last week of her life I remember having a bit of a crying spell. I knew her time was coming to an end and I just couldn’t bear the thought of living without her. I remember our last conversation so clearly. She was sitting in her recliner at home, weak and frail but looking for the strength to stay alert; and somehow God gave her the capacity and ability to talk with me for nearly an hour – fully “grandma.”
I asked her: “Grandma, whatcha’ thinking about?”
She said: “Kristen, I didn’t think it would come this soon.”
Trying to fight back tears for nearly an hour, I asked: “What do you mean? What does it feel like?”
She looked me square in the eyes and said: “…it feels short. I remember my childhood, my wedding, the birth of my children and every event that brought me joy throughout the years. When I am alone, I think of all the good times. It makes me grateful. None of the hard times even matter.”
I just remember sitting there holding her hands, looking into her eyes, trying to embed the feeling and image of this angel woman who changed my life, into my heart.
I asked her, “Is there anything you wished you could do over?”
She responded confidently (as she always did for as long as I knew her), “Nothing. I loved my life. It wasn’t perfect but it was the perfect life God had for me.”
If there was ever a time that someone might want to hit the “restart” button on their life, I’d think it would be at the end. And as I reflect on this conversation with my grandma, I am convicted and reminded that no matter how much I sometimes want to “hibernate” or “shut down” or hit “restart” on my life, that I am just wasting time being ungrateful for the current status of my existence; fully perfect in its beautiful mess because it’s the life God gave me.
I often wonder if I was asked those same questions would I respond in the same manner. Would I answer with a grateful heart or a regretful heart? Would words of wisdom flow from my tongue or a sense of weariness flood from my heart?
I believe that in order to be grateful at the end, we must first learn to be grateful at the start:
Grateful when we start a new day…
Grateful when we start a new chapter in our lives…
Grateful when we face new challenges…
A.W. Tozer once said, “The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful than we will ever be able to comprehend.” (This promise alone leaves me filled with gratitude!)
God didn’t give us buttons to push in order to change our life, He gave us His Son.
In that same conversation just five days before she passed away, I joked with her and said, “Well grandma, it looks like you are going to get to see Jesus before I do.”
And in a quick wit that served her well to the end, she teased with a twinkle in her eye, “Are you jealous?”
We both smiled with tears in our eyes. She knew that I knew she would be okay. Selfishly, I didn’t want her to go. But, I am grateful that she had a relationship with the Son who saved her life for eternity. Because of Him, I will get to see her again someday.
Don’t pray for God to change your situation or your status, pray for God to change your heart…to a heart of gratitude.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and gives hope for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
Remembering my best friend and guardian angel:
Ann Mardoian: March 26th, 1925 – February 23rd, 2014