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Not Just a Moment

Lately, I have struggled.  I am not sure why my soul is so unsettled.  I wonder if I am having a mid-life crisis or if I am simply spending too much time pondering things that would be better left alone.

A few days ago, a friend told me that she was contemplating returning to school to be a physician’s assistant.  As we discussed her options, she said, “You should come to PA school too!  You would be a great PA.”  For a moment, I paused. I thought about the possibility – I could leave my job, return to school, and completely change my life.  However, those thoughts were fleeting and within minutes reality hit me.  I looked at my friend and said, “It is too late for me.  I would never be able to work enough years to have a return on my investment.  It would be very difficult for me, at my age, to make enough money to pay my debts and to justify leaving my profession to pursue a new career at this stage of my life.”

In that moment, I felt the world shift under my feet.  I was no longer in my twenties, with a lifetime of possibilities spread out like an endless buffet before me.  Even in my thirties, I could make decisions and think, “if this doesn’t work out, I can always change my mind. There is still time.”  However, in my forties, the world is much smaller than it used to be.  It is as if I have hit the top of the bell curve – the first half of my life was filled with possibility, but now I have reached the peak, and I realize that my time is limited as I travel down the other side.  The world no longer unfolds before me with limitless opportunities because I now realize that my time is limited.

This new reality has pushed me to deep introspection.  I wonder why life matters.   Instead of sleeping, I stare at the ceiling and wonder, what is the point of life?  More importantly, what is the point of MY life?  Why am I working so hard in my career?  Why do I continue to write blogs and devotions that few people read?  Why do I lead a Bible study that doesn’t seem to produce any dramatic changes?  When I die, what will people say about me?  Will my life matter?  Will I be remembered?  Does anything that I do really have a purpose?

I wish that I could tell you that I have answered these questions.  I still search for wisdom, and I long to soothe the deep unrest in my soul.  I know the “proper Christian responses” to my struggles; however, trite religious quotes do little to satisfy my craving for deeper truth.

In the midst of all my unknowing, there is one thing that I do know.  I, like so many others, want to make a difference in this world- to have a life of purpose and meaning.  Often, I judge whether I am making a difference by reflecting on “big” accomplishments.  I convince myself that I would know my life mattered if I wrote a book that everyone read or if I did something so important that I changed the world.

Yet, this summer, I learned a different lesson.  My family traveled to Valdosta Georgia to volunteer with Group Mission Trips. We spent the week repairing homes and loving the people that we met.  On our last night in Valdosta, a young man stood before our group to thank us for our work.  When he spoke, he said something very profound:

You think that this week is just a moment.  But this isn’t just a moment, it is a lifetime. If you ever look back and wonder if you have done anything in your life that matters, you can look back at this moment and know that you have changed lives.

Like the other adults and children that served in Valdosta, I am not famous. Outside of my family and community, few people would know if I ceased to exist. I am not a well-known actress, talented musician, published writer, or political leader. I do not have a huge number of followers on social media.  I have not created an artistic masterpiece or invented a product that will cause anyone to give me an award or erect a monument to remember me.

Yet, I know that many seemingly insignificant moments in my life have mattered.  The moments that have mattered most have gone unnoticed by most of the world – the newspaper will never write about the food that I delivered to a woman with no legs in Peru, the local news will never report on the sanitary pads and supplies that I gave to girls in Uganda, my coworkers will never know about the lonely widower that I talked to each day in Valdosta, and no one will know the prayers that I pray for those in need.  Yet, if I believe the deeply felt words of a young man in Valdosta, I am assured that these small moments in my life were more than a moment – they were a lifetime for those that I touched.

In 1 John 4:8, we learn that God is love.  To love is to experience God in a deep and profound way.  Love has the power to transform a seemingly inconsequential moment into an event that can transform a lifetime.  Love matters.  Love is why we matter.

 

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Beth Gianopulos

Beth Mabe Gianopulos is a pastor’s wife (“PW”), a lawyer, and a mom of three amazing kids. Beth is married to Michael Gianopulos and is passionate about serving others at their church and mission organization, Project:Re3 (www.projectre3.org). Beth lives in Kernersville, North Carolina. Read more from Beth at www.pwlawyermom.org.

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