This is a revamped post from the beginning of this year on Wilderness Adventure. Tomorrow, I will be tackling the question of how I would live if I have just one year left in conjunction with Nadine Brandes’ newly-released book, A Time to Die. Today, I wanted to address something that is semi-related: the impermanence of life and pretty much everything in it.
“Let me know how transient I am” (Psalm 39:4b NASB).
Transient. Tran·sient. /tranSHənt,-ZHənt,-zēənt/. Lasting only for a short time; impermanent.
I grew up with the verse I quoted above. It was one of the many chapters my family memorized. It didn’t hit me in the face until recently, though, because I grew up with the King James Version (which uses the word “frail” in place of “transient”), and I hadn’t heard this particular version.
My dad once told me concerning a season of life that I was transient. I was wanting to settle, longing to have roots, and he told me I was transient. I came to understand exactly what he meant by that as I faced more unknowns and variable factors than ever before in that following year, my final year of college. It made sense.
I thought I would be done knowing my own transience after college. I thought I would embark on a career, meet and marry someone, start a home, and family. I thought I would have that settledness, those roots I so desired. Instead, I jumped into the first job I was offered, a job – to borrow the words of some of my favorite preachers – that took me further and kept me longer than I ever intended. I spread my time, resources, energy, and talents thin across the DFW metroplex, and changed churches more times than I care to admit. I have been anything but settled, and if there is anything I’ve learned in my post-grad experience, it’s just how transient I am.
It’s hard. I still want to be settled, planted.
But I don’t think I’m going to be.
This is the point of this conversation (which I’ve had many times in real life), where my family and dearest friends jump in and say with so much faith, “You will be!” And they say that because they know my transient state can be really rough, because it’s not at all what I desire, and they don’t want me to give up.
And yet, I’ve accepted it. (I’m not going to say I’ve joyfully accepted it, but hey, progress is progress).
I am transient. Only lasting for a short time, whether on a macro level in this life, or on a micro level in things in this life. Impermanent. Subject to change.
And maybe God wants me to know my own transience, so I am more flexible with His plans for my life. Maybe it’s so instead of being whiny and rigid when change comes, I’ll expect it, and maybe, just maybe, embrace it. Maybe knowing my own transience is imperative to living a different, more full life.
There was a time (ahem, the beginning of this year until thinking about my hypothetical final year over the past month), when the thought of being transient actually held me back. If this is only for a short time, if it’s impermanent, if it’s only going to change, why bother with it at all?
But what if something only being for a short time, it’s impermanence, it’s subjectivity to change is more reason to relish it, to live more fully in it?
And I’m going to leave it at that, because I don’t want to spoil tomorrow’s post, but think about it: how does knowing your own transience change YOU?