We Are Not Invincible

This is not the tone I expected my first blog post of 2016 to take on, but it’s been weighing on my heart and I need some relief.

Today is January 1st. It’s a day when everyone is so full of hope and enthusiasm about the year to come. We’ve made it through 2015 and now 2016 is here and it’s wide open. The possibilities are endless. The future looks bright. This will be our year. The world is ours.

How trite of us to think this way. 

As I type this, I’m getting ready to attend the funeral of a dear neighbor. Yes, on the first day of 2016, I’ll be saying goodbye to a person who has been a fixture in my life since the day my family and I moved into the ugly, grey (but wholly our own) one-family home across from hers. I was 9 when we moved in. My grandmother would pass away later that month. It was January.

Our neighbor, who we lovingly called Ms. Smith*—partially out of respect and partially because we never knew her first name—was a kindred; a fellow West Indian who was generous with her friendly waves and smiles. Although I didn’t know her well enough to call her a close friend, she and her family were part of the fabric of home to me. And now she’s gone.

That is why, reader, I’m writing to remind you that neither you, nor I, nor anyone you know will live forever. For some of us, this may indeed be the last new year we have the pleasure of celebrating. Don’t be cocky. Don’t behave as though you’re invincible because the immutable truth is that you aren’t.

So, savor every moment you have. Tell your love ones how much they mean to you. Work hard. Play hard. Don’t leave tasks for tomorrow that you can do today. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted because things can change in an instant. Acknowledge that forever hasn’t been allotted to you and take the finite time you have on this earth to make it a little bit better. And maybe a bit more neighborly.

-Monique

* Not her real name

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Love

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but after all of the craziness that made 2014 a year of unmerited struggle (with pockets of beauty strewn in), I have decided to make one. Now, this isn’t your typical “lose weight” or “read more books” resolution, as those are things I intend to do that go without saying. The resolution—or more accurately, goal for growth—that I’ve made for myself is the result of much thought, meditation, and prayer over this closing year:

My growth goal for 2015 is to love better and more fully.

What does that mean? Well, it means a lot of things; it’s an intentionally vague statement that encompasses a world of change, but I’ll do my best to dissect it.

I’ve been reading through the Bible on a (nearly) daily basis for some time now and a few days ago, I came upon 1 John 4. That chapter, which speaks extensively about love, captivated me in a way that, even now, I have trouble putting in words. So much so, that I reread it (and re-meditated on it) two additional days before moving on to the next chapter. What stood out to me most was how love, real love, was never described as an emotion. All love was tied to action and sacrificial action, at that. It reminded me of a saying I’d heard somewhere about love not being love unless it costs you something…

There were two main types of love described in this chapter. The first: God’s love for us. The second: the love we should have for others. The love that God showed us in sacrificing His Son for us should affect us deeply, especially in regards to how we love those around us. And not just those around us that we like or enjoy the company of, we should share this love with everyone. (Yes, that includes the annoying, horrible, ignorant, racist, sexist people, too.) I know this is a difficult thing to hear and subsequently apply to one’s life, but it’s a precursor to loving God. We are said to all be made in the image of God, so if you hate the people you see around you, who have bits of God in them, you can’t love Him, whom you cannot see.

So, in terms of my growth goal, I want to love God, others, and myself better and more fully. I want to love recklessly and without fear of that love going unrequited. I want people to think I’m crazy for treating others with genuine kindness and respect even after they’ve been insufferable to me. I want to love.