Life, Sized

"It is not length of life, but depth of life." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


The above quote leads me to a place on my mind's hazy horizon, making me reflect on days gone and those yet to come. I have now entered the midlife zone (actually more like blown past it), and the question lingers and hovers, imploring me to answer - Am I living deep and branching wide or living small, in the shallow end? Am I willing to risk doing those things I cannot fully control or understand? Those things I cannot chart on a pie graph or enter into a spreadsheet with neatly drawn columns with formulas that tell me the outcomes ahead of time. It grates further asking: If I took the gamble, would I come to understand and hold this alluring, sparkly thing that the poet calls "depth of life"?


To be honest, I am a very low-risk type of girl. I much prefer to be on solid ground than up in the sky, or swimming in the deep sea. I want my feet and body tethered to the earth, or at least safely inside of a large boat with my life vest on, thank you very much. Space-X is all the buzz these days where they are talking about sending passenger rocket ships to the moon and all I have to say about that idea is; "Are you crazy or something?"


It's sort of strange though. As much as I feel better and safer in my bubble-wrapped life, I still often have very real envy-laced thoughts about those who live on life's dangerous fringe and take chances every chance they get. I admire those people who just go and live deep without the need for signed disclaimers and guarantees that nothing will go wrong before they do. "Seize the day" is their rallying cry and their lives show it in thousands of ways.


I know a couple of people who are like this. They constantly do those things I can only watch on a Netflix docuseries with one eye open and my jaw agape in disbelief, heart racing at the life-jeopardizing feats. They are always backpacking on some remote trail for days-on-end or traveling to places in the world where the road halts and a new adventure beckons. They scuba dive and paraglide and kayak the thrashing river waters. Nothing rattles their fear cage and all I can do is look at their life with fogged up, awe-colored glasses.


I begin to think about my simpler, more ordinary life. Where I drive around 0n smoothly paved roads on Eco-mode in my Toyota Prius, have a regular job, two silly kids, a hubby, and a schedule to keep. I realize that their lives are the complete opposite to mine in every conceivable way. I live in airconditioned comfort and enjoy the luxury of an automatic coffee maker, while they are often combatting sweltering temperatures and devising their precious morning cup from pestle-and-mortar-crushed beans that they strain under fire-boiled water.


Talk about juxtaposed lives. Shallow and ordinary vs. deep and extraordinary. Or maybe I'm looking at this all wrong...what if they are just simply distinct? One not better or worse, but each beautiful and artful life-works colored with different shades and brushstrokes?


The realization then gently surfaces that apples will never be oranges, but both are delicious. Each have amazing flavors and textures to offer the world. And, just because I am not scaling mountains or parachuting out of an airplane (AS IF?!) does not mean that my days are not well-lived.


I discover in this comparison exercise that my life is deep in ways that matter to me. My beautiful God, family, friends, church family, and ordinary-extraordinary days make my life awesome and fulfilled and quite enjoyable, if I do say so myself. God has placed me where He wants me to be and it feels right for a reason - because for me, it is.


A heart-wrung prayer said long ago by the Apostle Paul reverberates out of my spirit for us all: "I pray that you and all of God’s people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep. I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is." (Ephesians 3:18-19 CEV)


This deep love is real and accessible whether we live extreme on the outskirts of the world or neatly tucked inside the lines of our own quiet towns. This brimmed-cup life is a gift of our Creator and remains whether we are summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro or sitting on our couch in the suburbs. The measure of a life is found in God's unmeasurable love for us, not in what we do.


And aren't you glad? I sure am.



Question: Are you always comparing your life to others? Can you see the beauty of the apple and the orange and that their differences are good? This week, resolve to never forget the deep, impossible-to-measure love of Christ who is crazy about you!

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