If someone told you today that you were dying, what would really matter?
What would you change about your life? What would you stop doing and what would you do more of?
That’s what a pediatrician in Cape Town, South Africa asked his patients — terminally ill children. What did they enjoy and what gave life meaning?
The answers were stunning in their simplicity.
What do kids who are dying say gives life real meaning?
Books read and stories told by their parents.
Kindness from a friend or caregiver or grandmom.
Topping the list of things that mattered most to these dying children — family.
What’s missing from the list is also telling.
Not one child said he wished he had watched more television or spent more time on Facebook.
And their only regret? That they had worried so much about what others thought of them.
So much wisdom from those so young. In their short lives, these kids have discovered what it takes some of us a lifetime to realize.
It’s a gift really – to know what really matters.
What about you? If someone told you today that you were dying, what would you say matters most?
Because you are dying. We all are.
Here’s the deal: we are all terminal.
Would the things we spent doing today, the things we spent worrying about and wringing our hands over, even make it on the list? Would today’s frustrations and distractions and pulls be on our list of what matters most?
What would we change about our life if we knew, really understood, that we are dying? What would we stop doing and what would we start doing intentionally?
If I lived like I was dying, I’d no longer begrudge my kids’ interruptions when I’m working or their too-long stories when I trying to get something done.
I’d tune in and listen and memorize every expression and note each time their eyes lit up. I’d explore the rabbit-trails of their wonder and marvel with them at their curious questions over this world.
I’d care more about welcoming those into my home and less about whether my house was perfect.
I’d care more about those sitting around my table and less about how many calories were on my plate.
I’d let go of the trivial and testy frustrations – the slow grocery line with the elderly customer, the dent in the van from a child’s bike handle, the glorious humidity that makes just-done hair go wild.
If I lived like I was dying, I wonder if I could even stay mad? Relationship would win out over being right and who wants to waste moments and memories and leave a sting of words?
I’d say I love you out loud a lot. And I’d try to be a good student of showing that love with touch and time, patience and compassion, words that cherish and encourage.
If we lived like we were dying, our world would become smaller in some ways and bigger in others. We’d have clarity over what to cling to and what to let go of.
Living like we’re dying would affect everything — our time and our treasure; our words and our work; our prayers and our praise.
We are the dying.
If we lived like we were dying, what really matters?
The honest simplicity of these kids can change our life if we will let it.
They’ve given us their hard-won wisdom of what matters.
Still, it’s not just living like we’re dying.
For the believer, we are dying to self, that we might live.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Gal. 2:20.
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