The other day I was watching Jane the Virgin. (Yes, I watch Jane the Virgin.) Anyway, Jane has just turned down her boyfriend’s proposal, and he’s upset. Jane acknowledges his feelings (she’s awesome like that), but she says she’s upset, too: the proposal came too early in their relationship, and he shouldn’t have put her in that position. Then she says something really profound about where they find themselves in their relationship: “To you, life is short, but to me, life is long.”
I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
In the Christian walk, we’re often obsessed with the concept of the brevity of life. It simply means that in the grand scheme of things, life is short and it can end any time. Ideally, it spurs us to live fully and intentionally.
What Jane is saying about life being long seems to contradict what Christians believe about life, or at least, this life, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with Jane.
Now, I’m not trying to take away from the understanding that we have an appointed time in which to live, nor that we shouldn’t fully and purposefully use that time. If you’ll stick with me for a few minutes, however, I’d like to add to it.
You see, a the concept of a short life can turn into a mad dash if misapplied. It might translate into the belief that a full schedule equals a full life, and that leads to jumping into every opportunity, because our lives are short and can end anytime. It might translate into the belief that a purposeful life equals a narrow focus, and that leads to missing out on all sorts of things, because we don’t want to be distracted. We run in circles, large or small, thinking that the chaos is the abundant life to which Jesus is calling us.
I know I’m guilty of this. I’ve had a life is short mentality.
The more I live, though, I want to look at my life and say, “Life is long.” I haven’t known how to phrase it until Jane the Virgin, but still.
For me, life is long.
For me, there is time. Sure, I have a sense that I will not always be as I am – my days are numbered, so to speak. But, whether I have five years or fifty remaining, I’m not in a rush.There is time to get to know myself – who I am and what I was created to do. There is time to build meaningful relationships with others.
For me, there is flexibility. There is room to take savor life, for the unexpected, for detours, for imperfection, for growth. I don’t have to be everything I was created to be all at once.
For me, there is abundance. There are opportunities everywhere. If one doesn’t work out, or I don’t seize it and should, another will come around. And another. And another. There is enough for everyone – always enough when I look for it.
For me, there is peace. There is no sense of racing against time – no clock, biological or otherwise, ticking away – of having to make certain milestones at certain times. There is no panic, no criticism when things don’t pan out as anticipated. There is no competition and envy. There is just grace, an understanding that the circumstances I find myself in are impermanent and subject to change, and that I am impermanent and subject to change within them. And that is okay.
For me, there is joy. There is a respect and appreciation for all life. There is beauty in creative expression and reception. There is a profound connection with God and humanity and nature.
Whatever time I have, it is enough to be who I was created to be and to have the impact I was created to have.
Because for me, life is long. And it is wide. And high. And full.