For a 4-year-old, a lifetime is how long it takes for the commercials to end and for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to come back on.
For a 7-year-old, a lifetime is the amount of time spent tearing red and green loops off the paper chain that Mommy hung from the door-frame to help you know when Christmas comes.
For an adult, a lifetime is undefined. Sometimes it means lying next to a fussy, teething infant, arguing with yourself about whether he is really teething or has a cold, while you “patiently” wait for him to fall asleep. Other times it means the minutes you spend pacing in front of the door to your house, trying not to watch the clock as the minute hand continues to creep past the curfew you set but your teenage daughter isn’t home yet.
A lifetime can be an eternity spent lying in wait for the next big event of your life. Or perhaps a lifetime is just one significant and life-changing period in which you grow or learn or transform – an “epoch in my life” as Anne Shirley might say. (See Anne of Green Gables)
There have been many of these epochs in my lifetime, some I remember and more that I don’t. More often than not, each epoch is coupled with a friendship that has pushed me to choose the “road less traveled,” to follow a passion and to pursue God’s purpose. Not all of these friendships were ones I sought out. As a matter of fact, these friendships are ones designed for me – but not by me.
Do you ever stop and breathe thankfulness for who you have in your life? Just take deep breath after deep breath and mentally list the people who impact you for the better?
I have a friend who prays with me, holds me accountable for my actions, shares the triumphs and trials of being a Christ-follower with me. She walked into my life in a time of hurt and betrayal. I also walked into hers. We weren’t looking for a new friend, but Someone knew it was right and good. This epoch has lasted 6 years (and counting).
I have a friend who encourages me, understands me, and does mommy-life with me. She sends me texts and tags me in posts on Facebook. This epoch is going on 10 years (and counting).
I have friends who are family. We have fought and argued. We have been forced to learn forgiveness and faith through sharing walls, bathrooms, and dinner table discussions. This epoch started the moment I was born.
I have a friend who has chosen to love me unconditionally. He comforts me when I am at my worst. He celebrates achievements with me. He embarks on new adventures with me. This epoch will last a lifetime.
I think I will choose to measure a lifetime by friendships. These don’t deplete my life and drain the minutes away, like I am pacing the floor, awaiting the “next big thing.” Friendships, when designed by a loving God, build health and hope and joy. When measured by the friendships provided me, I have already lived more lifetimes than I can count. What’s even more astounding? All of these friends will gather together around the throne of God someday. These friendships will last for eternity. Now that is a long time.