Waking up in a hospital bed on Easter Sunday morning after a life-saving proceedure on your heart does wonders for your perspective on life. While family and some friends are quick (too quick) to jump on my diet or love of Dew, the reality is that while I certainly have to make some minor changes to my diet to eat more “heart healthy” and increase exercise, diet is not at the top of my list of the things I’m thinking about. I’m not devaluing the importance of these changes, I’ll make them, many I already was over the past few years, but facing one’s mortality so dramatically impacted me more in thinking about relationships, not food.
Months away from turning forty, I suppose everyone at some point truly faces their mortality, and the deep realization that truly every day is a gift from God. Perhaps they go through something like I did, or someone they love does, or it may just be a significant birthday number that hits them; “I’m getting old!”
While I’ve always known and believed that every day was a gift from God – when the events of the last 48 hours are such that TODAY is truly a gift, you know it to a deeper level than you could before. Questions like – Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What truly matters? How then shall I live? – suddenly take on a new and deeply significant meaning. I’ve always been very mission driven in life and Kingdom focused in my work (at times to a fault) but this event has really caused me to think differently about relationships, or at least think the same things with a clarity and focus I never imagined possible before. Has this episode changed me? Of course. Facing death in the middle of an otherwise normal and fun day – brings everything into crystal clear focus. If I could sum it up in one phrase, I’d say:
Suddenly, selfishness now seems so…. selfish.
I now want even more so to live each day – not to do, not to accomplish, not to gain, not to accumulate, not even to impact or serve – but simply to love. To love God, to love my wife, to love my son, and to love my family and friends like I may have intended before, but to a degree I never did before. I want to be more of an others-centric person. I want to go to bed every night knowing that if today had been my last, I had truly loved and lived that day, and that nothing left behind or left undone truly mattered.
So, yeah. I’ll drink less Dew, but there are things so much more significant in life than merely the acceptance that I now need to eat and exercise better. My “new” diet is simply what everyone should be eating anyway, as is my “new” exercise requirements. All that is “new” is being extremely convinced of their importance and the motivation to do them more intentionally!
If all I gained from this experience was a healthier or even longer life, than I missed the point. Long life is not the goal. A life truly lived is! Please DO NOT let my story merely encourage you to be healthier. Please. Instead, may it spur you on to live a life of love! To God, to your family, and to anyone God brings into your life!
If you and I both will do that, than my near death experience will truly have value!