Monday, January 26, 2009

My One-Month-to-Live Bucket List

Before recovery, I used to think about death a lot. It's sad, but true. I would wish for death for two reasons... 1) payback - I thought that my death would somehow hurt the people I felt had hurt me and 2) escape - sometimes the only way I thought I could make it, was to... not make it. That's what drove me to recovery. I didn't want to live my empty life another day. Something HAD to change. God saved me from that final suicide attempt in a way that I knew I had to give my life to Him. It's been a long road filled with twists, turns, smiles and tears since then. I now have a life that I love though, and the funny thing is, the only thing that changed was me. God put His hand on me, I OPENED MY HEART and He came in.

We just finished a series at Community of Hope in Mansfield this week called “One Month to Live.”
In the message, we were urged to make our own “bucket” list of things we’d like to do, changes we’d like to make before we pass on. The hope was for us to try to begin to live a “no-regrets” life.

Actually sitting down to make this list never really crossed my mind.
I feel as though living a life in recovery has given me an inside advantage to the “no-regrets” life change. The very essence of staying sober is about trying to live a “no-regrets” life. When I make a mistake (and boy do I make them), it is my responsibility to right them, or make amends for them as soon as possible. The 12 step life tells me I must be accepting of life… life on life’s terms they say… and that means I must be accepting of people as well. As a recovering alcoholic, anger is not a luxury I can afford! I had to clean up all the old anger just so I could have a shot at sobriety. Now when new anger comes, and it does, I have to deal with it pronto. Of course, all of that is a tall order and I am constantly surprised at the ways I fail, as well as the ways I succeed. It is an ever-evolving motion, but one thing is for sure… if I don’t adhere to the “no-regrets” philosophy, I will drink again. For me, drinking means death, both physically and spiritually. It is serious business.

I’m not sure why but today I decided to give my bucket list a try.
At first I was completely blank. I’ve already made the sincerest of apologies to most of the people in my life that I owe them. My family and friends know how much they mean to me. I get to spend nearly every day playing and bonding with my son. My husband and I work hard and keeping our relationship strong and loving. I’ve traveled plenty, I’ve been published for both written word and digital design. I’ve spent the last few years of my life studying God’s word and diligently building my relationship with Him. Aside from making a trip to Colorado to spend some time with my brother’s family, whom I haven’t seen in over 5 years, I really don’t have anything I “have” to do.

I remembered a few months ago when I told my husband that if something were to happen to me, I wouldn’t want him to be sad, I’d want him to be happy.
He looked at me like I was crazy and he required an explanation. I told him I actually look forward to the day when I will be able to be in heaven, with my Father. When I think about dying, I actually get excited because even though I have no idea what it will be like, I know that it will be better than even my wildest dreams. I am eagerly awaiting my homecoming. I want my family to know that as long as I am with God, I will be happy.

Scripture says it perfect for me, Philippians 1:23-24 “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

Let’s get back to the bucket list.
Since I was coming up empty, I decided to take a different approach to it. I asked myself what God would want me to finish before I went on my way to be with Him. I’ve kind of had an idea of what my purpose has been for awhile but I don’t suppose I have ever really known beyond a shadow of a doubt. The answer to my bucket list question revealed something very cool to me. The answer showed me my purpose more clearly and I was surprised. There is this one thing I’ve been working on for… years. It’s a book, a fiction story that paints an amazing, beautiful picture of Christ in today’s modern world. Trust me when I say, it didn’t start out that way but wow… God certainly knows how to make roses out of pure crap. I just haven’t been in a hurry to finish it because it has been such a Spirit led journey that I cannot force it. I’ve had to learn patience and only move forward when the time is right and the Spirit is nudging me. I realized today, I have been viewing this project as a “back-burner” kind of thing when in reality… I need to take it a lot more seriously. I’m feeling like finishing this story is my purpose. I’ve known for at least the last 6 months that when I am finally done with it, I will not be shopping for a publisher. My plan is to give the story away for free as an act of good faith to God for giving me the opportunity to write His words for Him. I am hopeful that a few people will read it and walk away with something useful, but the truth is I think I’ve learned far more from the story than I could ever give away.

Here is my best attempt at my bucket list:

1) Continue a conscious search for God in my life
2) Continue to love and honor my husband and son
3) Continue to actively cherish my family and friends
4) Continue to make amends every time I screw up
5) Go to Colorado to spend time with my brother and his family
6) Finish my book for God

I will finish with this… in the beginning, I told you that I used to think about death a lot.
I have to be honest and say that really hasn’t changed much, only my reason for thinking about it has changed. Knowing that the overall purpose of my life here on earth is to prepare the way for my eternal life makes me want to use the greatest of considerations for even the smallest of actions. I do not want to miss out on the life God has planned for me after this. I long to meet Jesus face to face, but for now I will do my best to do good not bad, right not wrong, His will not mine and to search for His next purpose for my life.

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