Intentional: 5 Thoughts For Numbering Our Days

Framed sunset

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

What would you do if you knew the number of your days?

Most of us know we’re going to die at some point in time. Many will die in their older years. But what if you discovered the number of days you had left to live? How would it change you?

Someone I’ve known for awhile received a diagnosis. This person has lived a full life . . . made wonderful friends, created cherished memories.

Rain Sheets

What is one to do with the un-lived dreams? With the unfinished projects?

How does one bring closure to unsettled relationships?

I’ve been contemplating these thoughts as I realize that this loved one’s days are numbered.

I’m in my forties. I’ve probably lived at least half my life, perhaps more. But I can’t help thinking I’ve still got lots of years left to live. Yes, this is human perspective, not necessarily God’s perspective.

My goal the past few years has been to live life with no (more) regrets. It’s not easy . . .  living in such a way that, if I was to die tomorrow, I could leave behind this legacy.

I haven’t done so well. Some days, my priorities are out of whack. My focus is on the tasks rather than the relationships that are the most dear to me.

My words spout out before I can filter them with grace.

My heart holds onto hurts—knowingly or not, inflicted—rather than choosing forgiveness.

Tree with clearing storm

Relationships die when forgiveness is withheld. Do I want to live with the regret of holding onto a hurt forever, rather than choosing forgiveness when the opportunity to express it was there?

What if I knew the number of my days?

What would I be doing differently now?

Hands raised

As I consider the changes a diagnosis sews into the fabric of relationships, I’m challenged. Convicted even, to do things differently.

Honestly, I’m just now thinking through some of this, so I don’t have great words of wisdom.

I only know that before I live my last day—whenever that is—I want to know that I’ve made things right with the people I’m able to do this with.

Footprints on pavement

I want it to be said that I loved well. For a smile to come to the faces of those who know me. I don’t want to be remembered for how much I accomplished, but for how much I loved. How fully I lived. And yes, for being one who reflects Jesus to the world around her.

It’s easy to live life within the safe confines of a comfort zone. It’s the place I’ve spent most of my days. But is this the best place to live?

Or is it better to live on the edges of life, trusting God with each step taken, each decision made?

It’s risky.

Autumn sunrise 2 copy

How do I make my days count?

  1. Keep my eyes on Jesus first. Spend time with Him in His word, in prayer each day.
  2. Keep my priorities straight. God, husband, children—These come first. Then, in varying order: job, others, tasks. My three guys beach silhouette
  3. Be intentional about how I spend my time. Facebook and social media are a lure. I need to be picky in how I spend the hours in my day, using the time wisely. I don’t know how many days I have here on earth. I want them to count.
  4. Keep short accounts of wrongs. Holding onto hurts—not forgiving others’ offenses—leads to bitterness in my own spirit. It hinders relationships even with those I love.
  5. Say yes to the things God shows me to do. Giving Him the keys to my life scares me. I like being in control of “my” life. But when I say yes to Him, I’m saying yes to what He deems most important for me. Sometimes that means saying no to other things. And that’s okay.

Am I living all these right now? Not completely. But, I’m working on it.

Silhouetted tree sunset

I want my days—however many I have left—to count for eternity. I want them to speak and show life to those who people my world.

What about you? How do you make your days count? What would you change if you knew the number of your days?

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12 thoughts on “Intentional: 5 Thoughts For Numbering Our Days

  1. Another really profound subject! And a great treatment thereof. Well done!

    My doctor says I’m considerably past my sell-by date, and he’s scratching his head over what’s keeping me going, so I guess I can speak to some of this.

    For me, life and relationships are processes, not goals. I’ll leave many unfulfilled dreams behind, but it doesn’t matter; I worked toward them to the best of my ability at the time. If the process wan’t worthwhile, then maybe the dream wasn’t, either.

    Relationships are like a boogie board. Just staying balanced is exhausting, and there’s no achievable locus of stability. It’s work, all the time. Some days are good, and the following week can be ugly. It’s just life.I’d rather not die during an Ugly Week, but if I do…well, at least I was there.

    How people remember me isn’t omething I think about at all. I have no control over others’ thoughts and memories, and once I’ve done my bit – it’s up to them to honor my memory, or not.

    All of your days, Jeanne, will count for eternity. We are the Children of Forever (good YA fantasy title, eh?).

    I fully believe that nothing good is ever lost; our lives here are important in that the good and beautiful that we experience transcends death, right along with us, and that when we get to heaven we’ll find a room piled high with ‘birthday presents’, if you will…all of the things we thought we’d miss, all of the dreams that we were never able to bring to fulfillment.

    And relationships? No need for closure. We’ll have a long time to talk things out, if we want to, but I think we’ll be having more fun shooting pool and playing rugby (do we bleed in Heaven? kind of need that for rugby to be fun…).

    Andrew Greeley told the story of an Irish king who, as he lay dying, used the last of his strength to grab a handful of soil.

    He found himself then, standing outside the Pearly Gates, the soil still clutched in his hand.

    St. Peter said, “Welcome, dude, but hey…you have to drop the soil to come in.”

    The king couldn’t do it. He looked at the soil, and remembered his home, and his heart just broke at the thought of letting go.

    Finally he summoned his full moral strength, and let the soil fall away. With a heavy heart, he walked into Heaven.

    And found himself in Ireland. But you saw that coming, didn’t you?

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    • Great thoughts, Andrew. You had me laughing out loud at bleeding and rugby in heaven. 🙂 I agree that life and relationships are processes, you never “arrive” at perfection in either. And relationships DO take work. Lots of it! 🙂 I so appreciate your thoughts on this subject. They lend perspective to an area of thought I haven’t spent much time pondering yet. As always, you’ve made me think. Thank you, Andrew.

      And whether we meet this side of heaven or the next, count on a big hug.

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    • I love the differentiation, Lisa. It’s so much easier to “just get through,” but life is so much richer when we live with intention. You always add good things to the conversations here. Thanks!

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  2. Deep subject as always Jeanne, and well stated. I find focusing on Jesus and Holy Spirit to lead my days helps a lot to keep me strong and on path. Eternity is always just a step away. Learning where to maintain my focus keeps the rolling rocks and tripping tree roots at bay. Holy Spirit maintain my mind in tune with You.

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  3. A challenging topic, Jeanne, and one you handled quite well. I can’t take issue with the five ways you plan to make your days count. They are spot on, and the very five I would list.

    But this very topic is causing me to struggle with a concept which I may or may not be able to articulate. A concept which adds–not detracts–from anything you said. Maybe you can help me out.

    What if we could live our lives loving God first and loving others second? What if we could be so locked in on following Jesus that we quit worrying about somehow leaving something undone? What if we could really keep our eyes on Him and not on ourselves? I’m not there, but I would like to be. Because when my time comes, I won’t be all freaked out about my bucket list of undone stuff. He is in control. He knows how many days I have left on earth. And the day He calls me home will be the perfect day. The only way I can always be ready is to love Him every single day. Like I said, I’m not there.

    But I would love to be.

    And now that I have written all this and then re-read the previous comments, I think I pretty much said what Mary Clanahan (your Mom?) said. Only she used a lot less words.

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    • Thanks for the kind words, Joe.

      I love what you’re conveying here. Jesus never worried about leaving anything undone, because He knew He was walking in the center of His Father’s will. I’m so not there yet. 🙂 I love how you highlighted the fact that God is in control. When we love Him with all our hearts, and obey what He’s asked us to do, we don’t need to worry about leaving anything undone. Thanks for this reminder!

      I appreciate your thoughts here!

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  4. I loved every word of this, Jeanne. It speaks to me deeply. I struggle with reaching out in love when it’s only mid-afternoon and my energy and strength are spent. But you know what? We still have hours left in the day….and relationships still to tend to. By God’s grace, for sure. May we live in love, my friend!

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    • I know what you you mean about no more energy by mid-afternoon, but still needing to pour into the lives of our families. I’m so grateful God’s grace strengthens when we’re weak. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  5. Jeanne, I like your list of how you make your days count. When God is placed first then anything that happens in a day can be used to bless us and others (even the storms).

    My personal strategy is to spend time with the Lord at the beginning of each day. I’m the one that loses out the most when I don’t. His love, peace, and guidance are worth pursuing more than anything else.

    Thank you for the lovely respite and encouragement you’ve provided for us in this post. It’s like going to a mini Christian retreat.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Thanks for your encouragement, Wendy. Like you, I find that when my days begin with time with Jesus I usually walk through them with a little more peace amid chaos (usually brought on by two boisterous boys 😉 ).Pursuing Him first is a great strategy.

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