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Category Archives: Liking yourself

For what is it to die,

But to stand in the sun

And melt into the wind?   Kahlil Gibran

I was reading an article the other day that said the only thing that prevents us from dying a good death is fear and regret. I believe that is profoundly true. If we know where we’re going, and we are at peace about it, there will be little fear about eternity. When people are secure in their knowledge of God and salvation and heaven, I think their greatest fear is not about those things, but rather about dying a painful death–a death where one suffers. It seems that we have done quite well at keeping people alive longer, but not so good at keeping them healthy. Therefore, 2 out of 3 people die in hospitals or nursing homes. That is what we fear the most-suffering and dying away from home and our loved ones. It seems to me that a natural death should be treated with as much attention as a birth.  A person should be surrounded by loved ones, in his or her own bed, if possible. I think we fear nursing homes even more than hospitals. (But hospitals have their own demons.) So fear plays a great part in our thoughts about death. It’s not so much the dying that frightens us, but the process.

And then there’s the question of regrets. Regret means “to be very sorry for.” We can have regrets about things that we’ve done, or things that we haven’t done. While we can’t do a lot about the fear that surrounds the circumstances of our death, we can certainly do a great deal to prevent having regrets. It’s so important at every stage of our life, to take inventory of our relationships with others, of our dreams and goals, and of our satisfaction with ourselves. All these things are crucial if we are to die without regrets. Is there anyone we’re estranged from? We may not always be able to remedy this, but the least we can do is forgive that person to the best of our ability. While God’s heart is always reconciliation, his greatest desire is forgiveness. We can only control what we do and say, and find peace within. Many people live lives of bitterness because they cannot let go of an offense, and the person who hurt them is not suffering at all.

It’s also vital to examine our dreams and goals periodically. The great thing about dreams is that they can change and evolve. Perhaps we haven’t achieved exactly what we once desired, but we have managed to capture the essence of it in some other way. We may not be the professional dancer, but we can be the dance teacher. We might not have reached all our goals, but we can mentor someone who can carry on our vision. All through the Bible, I think that it is evident that God calls generations. Perhaps it is not just one man who can totally fulfill the vision, but in time it will be completed. It is the same in our lives. It is good to view the unfolding of our time on earth this way.

I once lamented to my counselor that I felt I had not achieved as much as I had hoped, and that I had always wanted to be somebody. (Whatever the heck that means.) She pointed out that I had enjoyed so many opportunities that many people do not. I have had my own radio show, been ordained as a minister, been a Bible teacher, taught sign language worship, been a grief counselor, owned a Christian coffeehouse, been a freelance writer and a professional singer, etc. I began to see and accept what she was saying, and realized how blessed I have been, as I have always wanted to be creative. And I have had many opportunities to express my creativity. So when you review or assess your life thus far, look at the opportunities you’ve had to do the things that you enjoy, and are good at. That counts for a lot. And you will often find that you have touched many more people than you ever dreamed. And remember, famous people, and very frequently wealthy ones, are not often happy. It is rare to find those who are. So take joy in your position in life, and your abundant blessings. Some people spend their entire lives just trying to put food on the table, and they never have a chance to think about what makes them happy or fulfilled.

And finally, how do you feel about yourself? Are you always displeased with who you are? Do you worry about how you look? Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time with my elderly, widowed mother, and I have noticed the longings of her heart to enjoy the things of youth again. Whenever we’ve been in the stores this spring, she has noticed the sun dresses, and always remarks how she wishes she could wear them once again. And her skin bruises very easily, and she feels that it is ugly, and I keep telling her that most people aren’t really staring at her bruises, though I understand that it bothers her, that her skin is discolored with black and blue marks. The doctors have said that it is aging, thin skin, and there is little to be done. Growing old is painful in so many ways, because there are so many losses, and when we were younger, we did not think that our lives would pass so quickly. But we can mourn the losses continually, or we can enjoy what we have left, treasuring every moment.

I think one of the greatest things about getting older, at least for me, is that I do accept myself more. I am not so vain as when I was younger. I am not so preoccupied with things that are superficial and really don’t matter, because I have suffered through the loss of loved ones, and I am finally beginning to learn what is really important in life. I do not push myself so hard for perfection, because I have decided that it is not even something that I desire. I learn from my mistakes, and find them valuable. I am learning to like myself a little more, and to do things that make me happy, because I am so much more aware of the passing of time.

So there you have it. There is only fear and regret that can rob us of a good death. We must turn to God with our fears, trusting in His love and care, and look to ourselves to make sure that we have no regrets…

Please see other articles that I have written here: