For longer than I can remember, I have had trouble as seasons change or things come to an end. I tend to start focusing on “this is the last time I/we will do…” As a school year ends, this is the last time we will have children in these specific grades. With my sixth child, I spent much of his babyhood thinking about the “lasts” we were experiencing. Last child to see start to walk, last time nursing a baby. Then came baby number seven, and we start all over again.
Our oldest daughter decided to stop playing softball this summer. This decision was not reached quickly. We knew she was ready to take a break most of the year. Many times I approached a scrimmage or game as the last time I would ever see her play. She played in the Nationals, came home and said she was hanging up her cleats. We’ve seen her play her last softball game.
It’s easy to get caught up in the lasts of life. It’s easy to dwell on what we are losing and what we will never have again.
As the summer winds down, I find myself beginning to get bogged down with lasts again. The last few days of sleeping later, the last chances to go the beach, enjoy a day of nothing, fit in the bucket list. The pressure begins to build up as time winds down. We must pack as many experiences into these last few times in order for it to be “successful.”
However, what if we focus on a different perspective. My mom corrected my sister recently when she was saying that she was sad that she was heading to her last dance practice. Mom told her to change her focus. She said focus on the memories she has with her dance group instead of it ending.
My sister mentioned this conversation to me in passing, but it has stayed in the forefront of mind ever since she said it. Why do we focus so much on the ending when we know that we miss the opportunity to keep making memories, to live in the moment? We start to worry so much about what we will be missing, that we miss what we still have.
What happens when the last time comes unexpectedly? An injury, an illness, an unforeseen obligation or opportunity that changes the plans we made? Without even knowing it was coming, we suddenly only have memories.
As much as Jesus talked about how He would be put to death, His disciples were still caught by surprise when it happened. Then, they focused on having seen Him for the last time instead of on their memories and what He had taught them. They lived in fear of the unknown.
Life is going to keep moving whether we focus on memories, focus on the last time looming all too close, focus on the future and what we think it should hold, trying to control the outcomes of our lives. Another way to live is to cherish our memories, knowing that our previous experiences help to shape us into the people we are becoming. Memories help us to see the progress we are making. Living with each experience possibly being a “last time” can help us to cherish and to learn even more. Then we can move past the fear of the unknown future to the next experience and create the next memory God has planned for us.