It’s amazing how it sometimes takes a large majority of our lives to get to a point of actually understanding some of the simplest truths. One of those profoundly plain concepts has more recently carved a drastic new perspective through the process of my thoughts.
First, a little background to set the stage of understanding: I was raised with a strong influence of humble, farming grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. You hold on to, reuse, and value every little thing. I have been into photography and journaling since I was barely able to read; I have this innate craving to hold on to every meaningful essence. I want to speak so that others can experience, I want to capture images so that others can feel. It can sometimes be an obsession that leads to endless worrying and incredible stress. What if I miss something? What if this all passes by and is forgotten?
SO WHAT IF IT IS?
When my husband Mac and I first got married, two of our first major purchases were a vacuum cleaner and a recliner. It was painful to make the choice of which one to buy. They had to be perfect because, in my mind, they were going to be THE vacuum and THE recliner that would witness our entire lives though their basic service as items of use in our home. Wouldn’t you know, the vacuum broke within 3 years and though the recliner is still passionately abused in our living room, it is not going to make it past raising children! And you know what, that is going to have to be ok! And I don’t have to save a square of the recliner’s fabric before we toss it to, hopefully one-day, stitch into a quilt of our memories! It’s okay if it’s forgotten.
Money is another issue. We try to save it and store it up and hoard it. That doesn’t work for us anyway, not with four growing kids, but even if we stored it up to keep, it can’t be kept forever (Luke 12:13-21). One day, it will be worth nothing except the result in which we used it for Jesus. It is important to plan for the future, so I’m not advocating carelessness, but perhaps future preparation with a little less collection obsession.
Moments and memories, the millions of photographs that I’ve taken that include people I never knew to begin with or can barely remember after all this time, they do pass. I may look back one day and enjoy every one of the five hundred micro expressions from one of the kids’ birthday photo-shoots, but once I’m gone… once they are gone… who is left to care about those many repeated images? (Psalm 39:5)
As I’ve been pondering these things, it all summaries for me in this one word: Fluid. Everything is fluid. I constantly change, I’m not even the same person I was last year, life and circumstances have altered me. My children change, they grow and mature before my very eyes! The world changes, for good and bad. Our finances change, our social statuses change, our lives are relentlessly bending and moving and never resting.
I grew up with the idea that I’d get my degree, get married, settle down, have kids… there is no settling down! Once we have survived one torrent, the river bends to reveal another. And so, in this manner, life continues.
WHAT’S TRULY IMPORTANT
My conclusion of the matter is also simple: in a world and a life that is fluid (sometimes a raging and destructive river of fluid), I also have to be fluid. I have to keep my mind and heart grounded in Truth, but open and flexible. The only things that last forever are God’s Word (1 Peter 1:25) and Man’s souls (1 John 5:13), so I need to alter my priorities accordingly. It’s ok if I never get the photo albums organized or make the boxes of mementos into scrapbooks. As long as I am doing what it takes to pass on the true essence of what makes those things important: God’s love, Truth, Family, Community, Intimacy, etc. the rest can come and go in peace.