Have you ever opened your inbox to find more unread emails than you were prepared for? It’s kind of like when you go to the mall during Spring Break and see every teenager ever born, and suddenly online shopping looks very appealing… In both contexts.
A few months ago I was flying home from a conference and had this experience. Feeling overwhelmed, I decided to unplug from the wi-fi, which is now accessible 40,000 feet in the air. You know, in case birds need to update their Facebook or something.
I reclined my chair, opened a can of soda and turned on the screen in front of me. I figured the best way to relax was to watch a movie, and I’m sure it would have been, if I had chosen anything other than The Fault In Our Stars.
If you’ve seen it, you already know. It was not relaxing. It was traumatic. The amount of liquid that came out of my face during this movie probably could’ve solved the California drought. If you haven’t seen it, you really should, but please, watch it at home with a million boxes of tissues and your best friend on speed dial.
As I sat there with the credits rolling, taking deep breaths and accepting tissues from complete strangers, I realized this was more than just emotion. I was challenged to make my life count, to make today matter. You see, it’s more than a love story; it’s about two teenagers finding their fairytale while fighting for their lives. They both had cancer.
I hate cancer. These days, almost everyone has been bullied, broken hearted and left bewildered because of it. I just wish we knew how to stop it.
Maybe that’s what frustrates us most about life. Not knowing the cause or cure for something, whether a math problem, a heartbreak, or cancer.
My uncle went home to heaven a couple of years ago because of cancer. While I’m happy he’s in Heaven, probably philosophizing life with C.S. Lewis, I miss him. I miss the calendar I could count on from him every Christmas. I miss the deep conversations about life over red wine. I miss hearing him pray at the top of his lungs, even when his words stopped making sense. I miss him being here, with us. Maybe you can relate.
Movies like this sting a little more because of my experience with my Uncle Jim. And yet, this one struck deeper than a heartstring. These teenagers determined to live today passionately and love each other deeply, in the midst of circumstances that seemed the furthest thing from fair. This movie was more than a challenging love story; it challenged how I lived my story.
Too often the fault with me is that I allow my sickness to determine my story, and I don’t mean physically.
How many times has my comfort zone stopped my creativity? How many times have I talked myself out of the life I was created to live? How many times has fear closed the open door?
Too many times.
I’m done letting my withered hand get in the way of a wonder-filled life.
Have you ever heard the saying today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present? It probably makes you cringe a little, or a lot, and you are not alone. And yet as much as I wish there was a cooler way to say it, it’s true. There’s a reason you woke up this morning, and that reason is not so you would spend today being worried about tomorrow. Seriously, who brags on a Monday about their wild weekend of worry? No one.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-29 that worrying is pointless, which we kind of already know. But even better, He tells us what to do instead:
Matthew 6:34 in The Message bible says, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes".
So what do we do with today? That thing.
Forgive that person. Start that business. Ask that person on a date. Apply for that course. Do that workout. Send that text. Start writing that book. For goodness sake, buy that puppy! Do something that will make today count.
So my friend, live full and love well today. And I pray as you climb into bed tonight, you will remember to thank the One who gave you this day.
Elyse Murphy is a writer, pastor, and international speaker. Her experiences of life as a pastor’s kid have led Elyse to write her first book “Confessions of a Church Kid.” Elyse now resides in Los Angeles, working with young adults and ministering as one of the pastors at Oasis Church in Downtown Hollywood. Connect with Elyse on her blog.