Too Young to Die

Within a matter of minutes, I received news this morning that a childhood friend of mine and a cousin of mine passed away. They were both young men, my age. The day has been wrought with emotions—shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, despair for the families. Young people are not supposed to die.

As a SAMS missionary, one of the things I have to do before I depart for the field is to make a will. I had this task on my to-do list for July, but I still haven’t done it. I have been putting it off. I don’t like to think about my immortality. There is something unsettling thinking about my demise. I should still be dreaming about my wedding, not thinking about my funeral. Young people are not supposed to die.

I plan to live for scores to come, and longevity runs in my family. I picture myself being a grumpy, but lovable old woman full of spunk. And I see myself “going out” at the ripe of old age of 100+ doing something I enjoy—playing tennis, belly-laughing at an I Love Lucy episode, traveling.

But the events of today serve as a reminder to me that life is a precious and holy gift. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Life is precious and holy. Let’s never take it for granted.

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A Catholic Nun, An Episcopal Priest, and A Gospel Singer

No, this isn’t a joke, but it ought to be. And if I were clever enough, it would be.

As I wrote in my last blog post, the past few weeks have been difficult; but I believe they have been full of growth. I don’t think I’ll realize how much I have grown in faith until months down the road. God has used a Catholic nun, an Episcopal priest, and a gospel singer to help me refocus on him.

Mother Teresa

I have always been a huge fan of Mother Teresa, but I have never read any of her books until yesterday. I was verifying a quotation for work and ran across a bunch of Mother Teresa’s sayings in the book A Simple Path. I decided to download it. This compilation of Mother Teresa’s writings has reminded me of my (our) purpose in life—to love God and to love and serve others in Christ’s love. Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book:

“God doesn’t require us to succeed. He only requires that you try.”

“Prayer in action is love; love in action is service.”

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Episcopal Priest
Earlier this summer, my mom reminded me of the importance of staying focus and of being mindful of distractions. I have stayed focus on my missionary preparation, but I did lose focus about my identity in Christ. The Ephesians sermon series that one of my priests, Fr. Gilliam Malone, is preaching has re-centered me, reminding me that I’m God’s daughter and that I don’t have to earn God’s love. I realized that I expect more of myself than God does. I expect myself to be perfect; God expects me to be faithful. (You can listen to these sermons via your media player at http://www.stgeorgesnashville.org/Media/Sermons. Click on “Ephesians 1: Adoption in Him” and “Ephesians 2: The Necessity of Jesus’ Death.” I haven’t listened to the third installment preached by The Reverend Sarah Kerr, but I know it will be good!)

Gospel Singer
During the hard drive back from Memphis (see my last blog post, “Sacred”), I listened to Marvin Sapp’s album I Win. The songs are full of redemption and hope. I really resonated with the song “Deeper,” in which Sapp sings about how God calls us out of our comfort zone to go deeper with him. You can download the song at iTunes or listen to it for free below via Spotify. (If you don’t have Spotify, it’s free to download; and it’s great!)

*Image source for Mother Teresa photo: http://pinterest.com/sparklyrainbow/

Scared

Driving back from Memphis Sunday evening, fear and worry began to overwhelm me. Every negative thought that I could possibly imagine entered my head. I admit it; the past couple of weeks have been rough, as the reality of my move begins to settle in. But Sunday evening was particularly hard. By the time I returned home, I was more exhausted and emotionally drained as I was before I left on Friday to spend the weekend with my best friend.

As I said from the beginning, this blog is real. I won’t sugarcoat my feelings. Although I am confident and at peace about what God is calling me to do, it is still hard; that’s just reality. I have less than six months before I move, and I feel the weight of spending every possible moment with my family and friends and those I love. The time is not long enough; it will never be long enough.

Joey Goes Home
Joey Goes Home

I’m beginning to understand why the Bible talks so much about fear. It can mess with your mind so much that it cripples you. Perhaps excitement and fear are two sides of the same coin. Mary was excited and scared when Gabriel showed up with his big announcement. The disciples were excited and scared when they learned that Jesus was alive. Take it down a thousand notches: Joey, my puppy-nephew, was excited and scared when he met his momma (my sister) for the first time. He was so scared that he trembled; but when my sister put him in the car to take him home, he was as happy as a lark. I’m excited and scared about moving to South Africa. On the one hand, it’s exciting to start over: do meaningful work, live in a new city, make new friends, attend a new church, have a new community, live a simplified life. On the other hand, it’s scary: Will I fail at my work? Will people like me? Will I make good friends? Will I be able to overcome the homesickness? I’ll be living on a 1/3 of my current salary.

 I know it’s a rough time that I’m going through, and it will get better. It’s just a part of the process. The hardest choices in life involve risk. I’m willing to take this risk with God’s help.