“The Sum Of These!”

Memory is a way of holding
onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to
lose. 

~From the television show The Wonder Years


 

Photobucket

I have been literally looking in the mirror lately, trying to
really see who I have become.  Often I don’t
recognize myself.  I can see similarities
to the younger me that I once knew but there are significant changes that are
somewhat bewildering.  Have you ever
stood, staring into your own eyes for any length of time?  I have and sometimes I have the urge to talk
to the stranger I see staring back at me. 
Who are you? Where did the real Michelle go?  What
have you done with her?  Tell her to come back,
please?

And then pictures start flashing across my mind of other times,
years before, I stood in the exact same place, staring at a younger version of
myself, asking myself other questions pertinent for that particular time.  But this precise moment there weren’t any tangible
answers.  Only the memories of what I was
at one time or another emerge .

The memories flood into the corners of my mind, one after
another…a high school graduate; a woman wearing a military uniform; a carefree young lady
seeing the world for the first time; a young woman, getting married to
the first man she loved; a first time
mother excited & loving life; a wife being left & losing her
dream; a
woman overcoming loss; a woman achieving a goal; a new woman in Christ;
a panicked
mother of 4 young children; a woman with the rug pulled out from
underneath
her; a 9 to 5 woman; a fallen woman; a woman restored; becoming a new mother-in-law
& a grandmother.  All those women staring back at me, saying to me,"You are the sum of these!"

I am aware that this is an age old dance humans play over
time.  Age begins to press on our heals
and we begin searching for the meaning in everything we have experienced.  We begin to examine the places our choices
have taken us, the occasions that became turning points in our lives.  We take account of the memories that have
stayed with us and put them into categories, like childhood, teenage, young
adult, mid-life, etc.  It is a wonder that our minds can even recount these events let alone the hours we have spent living our life. 

Let me take this opportunity to make a point here…

There are 8,760 hours in one year.  

I have been alive on earth               397,824 hours

Length of time as a Christian            140,160 hours

And in one year I spend…

Approximate time sleeping    17,885 hours

(based on average 7 hrs a day)

Time at home or other       5,524 hours

Time at work      2,250 hours 

Time commuting to work       690 hours

Approximate time at church      338 hours

Vacation time       90 hours

Looking at my little time chart above you can see, just calculating basic time spent in a one year period, how it would be impossible to account for every one of those hours.  I tried to calculate certain activities like eating, watching TV, web surfing, bible study or praying but understandably they were virtually impossible to do so. But the picture became clear to me, when considering that I do participate in these things, time is indeed spent, never to be gotten back.  Time, the Lord has given me.

All my memories of certain hours in my life, goodness, I could not even begin to add them up.While sometimes unsettling, I may not recognize myself at this stage in my life but I know that God is, at this very minute, forming me into the image He has in His mind.  His memories of me are complete. He remembers all 397,824 hours of my life.  When I submit to His time management program I will become what He has planned for me.  My responsibility is to be grateful for the time given to me and to praise God for His goodness in my life even when I did not know Him…because He certainly knew me, loved me and called me.

When I read the scripture below, the last line struck me as odd. "He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."  What would keep someone from reflecting on the days of their life, especially when they are standing in front of a mirror asking themselves questions about their identity.  I believe it has to do with contentment where God has placed you.  If you are truly grateful and contented with your life and the place God has put you then you will not spend the time worrying & fretting over the future or regretting the past. 

I have to be honest and tell you that I am not completely contented but I am grateful for the hours of my life.  I am grateful for the sum of all the women I have been.  And I know that whatever God has for me next will be a wonderful addition to the sum of these. 

18 Then I realized that
it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find
satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of
life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables
him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a
gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

(New International Version)

7 thoughts on ““The Sum Of These!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    How well your words sit upon my heart, I have so much less that I once did but the joy I now experience is 10 fold greater.  Happines does not exist in an abundance of things and age is but a wider picture to view our life and how we have used what God has given us.
    I do so enjoy visiting you here.

  2. nita says:

    hi shell, interesting thought provoking blog, nice to see you on here again. off soon to challenge you on facebook games, take care – nita.

  3. J W says:

    Dear friend, you have touched upon a place in our time (for the Father has no regard for time) that few recognize as a blessing.  To me, most view these forlorn looks at ourselves in a mirror as times of great sadness and a sense of the hourglass of our lives becoming bottom heavy.  I\’m so very thankful that you share yourself in this open and most sincere manner…scripture tells me this is pleasing to the Lord.  Undoubtedly, you are a pillar of strength to carry these burdens yet maintain the "Blessed Hope" of Titus 2:13.  Only One knows how to respond to you, His child.  And that knowledge will sustain you for all the bridges yet to cross.  Those of us who know you love you.  Please don\’t forget to continue loving yourself in times of weakness, and in times of rejuvenation.  As mentioned to you before, I find myself reading the book of Job more and more as this body ages.  As Will Rogers so rightfully stated, "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.  There will be a special prayer for you this day.
     
    J.W.L. 

  4. account deleted says:

     
    My wish for you is when you look in to the mirror you start to see the wonderful woman that I have come to know.
     
    Thanks for the movie suggestions. I wish you were here to hang out and watch them too!
     
    Hugs, Liz
     

  5. Julie says:

    What a neat blog!!! I loved the point you are making here.  God takes us through many different experiences in our lives, both good and bad.  He works all things for His glory!  If we are focusing on His glory, we can always be glad; because, He is everything we need.
     
    I also loved your time comparisons.  I don\’t think we reflect on our time management nearly as much as we should.  Being a math teacher and a budget-aholic, I love the concept. 🙂
     
    Also, when I was reading your blog, I was surprised to read that you spent some time in the service.  I spent 5 years in the Navy after I graduated from high school.  That is where I met my husband.
     
    Anyway, thanks for sharing!  It was a real blessing reading your blog today!
    –Julie

  6. Katherine says:

    Hi Shell.  Nice to see you are blogging.  This is very thought provoking for me.  Thank you.
    I think I see some things in some new Light.  Never too late to make a change, right?
    Thanks again.  Be Blessed in Jesus\’ Name.
    xoxo — Katherine.  🙂

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