I have always imagined that drowning would probably be one of the worst ways to die. For some strange reason, I often think of how I am going to die. The kids and I talk about how we want to have a good story to tell at “The Gate” when we get to the end of our lives. I don’t want to be the guy that died because he got too close to a beaver and the beaver bit his leg and severed a major artery. I want my death to either be so boring that I die in my sleep or I want it to be something really good. But, drowning – drowning is not the way I want to go, for sure.
And as much as I hate the idea of drowning, not being able to breathe – I am constantly suffocating myself in my day to day life.
Do you ever get that suffocating feeling?
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? Not just the bad things that happen and beat us down, but I mean just by living life – day in and day out?
To me, it doesn’t seem like we really enjoy life much any more, because we are just being drowned by it. But, don’t start to believe that I am letting us off the hook for a second. We are being drowned by the life that we have created for ourselves. It’s self-inflicted suicide by drowning. Charles Dickens said, “We forge the chains we wear in life.”
We make our lives too complicated. We over-commit ourselves, with the good and the bad. I have to tell you though that…
Summertime is the Worst!
- Sports and sports parties
- End of school year activities and graduations
- Memorial Day long weekend activities
- VBS (Vacation Bible School)
- Vacations – usually more than one
- Trips to Six Flags or other amusement parks
- Day trips to your favorite state or national park
- Time at the pool
- Birthday parties
- Gospel Meetings – Revivals
- Playdates for the kids
- Summer cleaning – all the projects we didn’t have time for in the spring
- Labor Day celebrations
- Date nights / Social outings with adult friends
- Music lessons
- Ballet / Dance
- Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts
- Picnics and BBQs
- Fireworks on the 4th of July
- Wellness Dr. visits – school shots
- Friday night Bible studies / small groups
- Reading programs – library visits (do libraries still exist?)
- Back to school preparations (school supplies, new shoes and clothes)
We try to check off every single item on the 1,000,000 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer activity list and then we post a picture of each one on our favorite social network – just to make sure other people can see that we are drowning ourselves along with our loved ones.
I personally feel soulless by the end of the summer. Part of it is, because I am around encouraging friends less and less during that time. We are all so busy and heading out of town every other week, so we aren’t available to keep each other edified. We usually even take a hiatus from any extra-curricular religious studies or events, too.
What in this life is sucking the soul out of you right now? What are the distractions in your life (good or bad)? Maybe it’s work, or school, or family? Maybe it’s something like church, or negative people, or just having too much going on.
Why do we do it? Why do we keep burying ourselves under more and more? We know that we are drowning. We know that we can get help, but yet we don’t cry out. Why not? Is it because people will be disappointed that we aren’t as busy as they are? Is it because our kids will hate us for not filling up every minute of their summer break? Are we just trying to keep up with everyone else and even outdo everyone else, even though we don’t enjoy it?
Maybe it’s the whole works mentality that you were raised with. The more I do, especially the good, the more people will think of me, the more my kids will appreciate me, the more God will shine His grace and mercy into my life. Maybe we want to provide every advantage to our children that we didn’t have as kids (please don’t buy into that lie).
Just Say No!
I always liked Nancy Reagan and her war on recreational drug use. If anyone could fight drug use, it’s a 94 year old, white, well-to-do woman. Her Just Say No campaign, even 30 years later, has a nice ring to it though. I think we need to listen to Nancy a little more. Not, just about drugs – you should say no to drugs (disclaimer so you can’t blame me for your potential future drug use). But, we should also start saying no to many more things in our lives. Say no to the four day a week sports activities for your kids. Say no to an expensive overwhelming vacation. Say no to boy scouts. Say no to the noise in your life that is wearing you out.
The answer is not just to run away constantly though – we need to be running towards something – something better. We need to be more purposeful in the decisions we make.
We need to figure out what is important in our lives. We need to do the meaningful things. We need to remember that our lives here on this sphere are temporal. We are preparing for an eternal home. God’s not going to care if you filled up every day each summer with something to do. God’s going to care about how well you emulated His Son in your own life, how well your children reflected His Light.
We need to create space in our schedules to free us up for the spontaneous positive opportunities. When someone calls you last minute to hang out and spend time together enriching your life and your soul – you need to be able to say, “Yes!” sometimes instead of always saying, “No, I’m sorry but we have…”
We can enjoy this life. But, I feel like many of us aren’t. We are trying to keep our heads above the water, just enough so that we don’t drown completely. There is so much more though to life than simply surviving it.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” Make your life one that is distinguishing.
I feel like Benjamin Franklin could read my life pretty well when he said, “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” Don’t sacrifice your life for stuff to do, things that just fill the time, but don’t add anything to your quality of life.
We want to be alive. We want to lead enriching fulfilling lives, but we cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are. We need to make some changes in our lives, especially in our schedules.
Below are a few inspiring thoughts I have compiled over the years. Hopefully they will inspire you to think a little more deeply about how to stop drowning yourself…
Hunger For Life
The tragedy of life is not old age or death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.
Just because we are breathing doesn’t mean we are alive.
Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams, or wake up and chase them.
Touch Your Heart
Surround yourself with people who make you hungry for life, touch your heart, and nourish your soul.
Be with people that turn you on.
Nourish Your Soul
Do what makes your soul shine.
Die with memories, not dreams.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley
“View your life from your funeral: Looking back at your life experiences, what have you accomplished? What would you have wanted to accomplish but didn’t? What were the happy moments? What were the sad? What would you do again, and what wouldn’t you do?” Victor Frankl