Today is the day that was not supposed to be—my 50th birthday.
I’ve officially outlived my expiration date. Every breath is now a bonus, every heartbeat icing on the cake.
I don’t know what I expected today to be. I hadn’t given it much thought, what with it being a statistical impossibility and all. But now I’m here, standing in this surreal moment—looking back over the half-century I’ve already lived, still afraid to look too far into the future.
The truth is I have the only thing any of us ever has—today.
Today is just a regular Tuesday. Ironically, very much like the day I received a death sentence in Exam Room B almost 18 years ago. But even a typical Tuesday is a gift, and I vow to treat this one as such.
I will savor the simple pleasures – the flaky perfection of a chocolate croissant at my favorite downtown café, a few silent minutes lost in a good book by a cozy fire, a brisk walk by the lake.
I will surround myself with precious people. My family and friends, the main characters in my life story, embody for me the depth, complexity, and indescribable beauty life offers each of us.
I will find comfort in the simple rituals that anchor my day—making my bed, washing my hair, watering the front porch mums.
I will unearth the buried memories. I will leaf through my kids’ keepsake boxes, adore my grandchildren’s baby pictures, and re-read the love notes from Steve that still make me cry.
I will soak up the solitude. I will thank God for this gift of life, relish in His limitless love, and listen for the still, small voice that reminds and continues to teach me who He made me to be.
In short, today I will live. Because no matter how many days on earth God grants us, life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured.
By God’s providence, my journey hasn’t ended, and neither has yours. We each have an unknown number of hours, days, weeks, and years to invest in living well, loving well and ultimately, leaving well.
So, how do we live our lives? By how we spend our time. It’s that simple and that difficult.
So much of what our culture tells us makes life meaningful is frivolous. Stuff comes to mind. So does vanity. I’m thankful that sickness stripped away what I clung to before, clearing my vision so I could see what really counts for eternity—our souls and our relationships.
Our relationship with God, primarily, and our relationship with ourselves drives how we connect with and function in the world.
If we can't accept God’s love for us and love ourselves in healthy ways (a lifelong journey for me), it’s virtually impossible to love others well. And really, isn’t love the whole point of life?
Living out love will look different for each of us. You might be working in a remote village across the world, caring for the sick and impoverished, or you might be simmering a pot of soup for the single mom next door. Maybe you’re acting as a voice for the voiceless, or perhaps you’re sitting silently with a grieving widow. You might be changing diapers or changing oil, leading a large team, or chasing a toddler around.
The why, not the what, matters most. If love is your motive, you’ll never miss the mark.
God endowed you with gifts only you can give, and we all need the blessings that spill over from your life well-lived.