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Thorner: Age Brings Self-Reflection of Life’s Choices



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By Nancy Thorner - 

Do you have self-reflective moments when you are reminded that your days on Earth are limited and thus ponder whether you used your time wisely?  Remember sitting in a boring classroom as a young student? It seemed time went by so slowly, but looking back on life as a mature adult we wonder how the years escaped us so quickly.

These are the times we tend to reflect upon the paths we chose and the footprint we made through the years. It is often in these quiet times, later in life, when we have thoughts of whether we accomplished our goals; if we had done more good than harm; what we might have done better, what we should have or should not have done at all. We think about whether our lives have made a positive difference in some way, and finally, how our remaining time might be best spent.

Francis Schaeffer, a brilliant theologian, philosopher, and prolific writer offered this advice in his famous book How Should We Then Live. "Most people catch their presuppositions from their family and surrounding society, the way that a child catches the measles. But people with understanding realize that their presuppositions should be chosen after a careful consideration of which worldview is true.”  Most agree with Schaeffer's conclusion, but it seems we are too often caught up in daily routines and plans that have allotted little, if any, time for any serious thoughts on subjects beyond what is on our schedule for the day or week. 

Will we reach the end of our lives without having done as  Schaeffer suggests: decide what is most important and whether our lives, in the end, will reflect a purpose rather than just having taken up space?  Did we live largely for ourselves, our immediate pleasures, within a routine that in the end will seem disappointing to us, or will we end with a testimony of having lived a thoughtful, purposeful life that extended beyond ourselves; a life that helped others in some way and/or invested in making our world a bit better for our having been here?  Did we at least try to help make our country, state, neighbors and/or families a bit better by our example, efforts, and actions? 

Each year we see ways that families and communities are failing.  We may complain, but do we volunteer to help do something constructive to make positive changes in the right direction?  It is our choice whether to seek facts and stand for truth or be an echo of the loudest among us, even if that voice is wrong and giving fake information. 

Schaeffer, who died in 1984, also offered this statement for our consideration: “If man is not made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened. We can see this in many of the major issues being debated in our society today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the increase of child abuse and violence of all kinds, pornography, the routine torture of political prisoners in many parts of the world, the crime explosion, and the random violence which surrounds us.” 

Schaeffer's words, spoken decades ago, indicate how the issues we face today still remain, but some now seem to be on steroids. They are not just politically based, but many have their source in that which is spiritual and consistent with matters humanity has always faced.

Each of us is responsible to make decisions, most on a daily basis, as to how we will live; whether that will be from a place of thoughtful consideration and purpose driven actions, or whether they will be impulsive actions that satisfy us quickly but lack the substance needed for enduring stability, comfort, or success.  Will our choice be to simply exist in an unplanned daily routine avoiding conversations that are uncomfortable?Will we waste our lives with daily routines which have few, if any, altruistic purposes and then realize too late we were caught up in a monotonous trap with little time to make appropriate, needed changes?

There are so many worthy organizations, groups, churches, books, and internet sources that can teach, inspire, and offer ways and ideas to enrich our lives as well as others within our sphere of influence.  As we interact with others we are awakened to new thoughts and ideas by sharing facts, theories, and possibilities. Listening and contemplating others’ suggestions create an atmosphere that opens one’s mind to new possibilities. It is far more productive than believing we have nothing to learn.    

Sadly, the discourse in America and the World today has become largely divisive and defensive.  Rather than unite us, it divides. Media sources no longer seek facts, they strive to find ways to promote their specific viewpoint. Politicians are less interested in doing what is best for their constituents and more concerned how a decision or vote will impact their own career.  Families go in a dozen different directions daily, few of which they all go together.  Churches, a place where the vast number of Americans once spent their Sunday mornings, have been closing due to lack of support and/or attendance.  Yet this is the one place where love, faith, family, and integrity are taught, all of which are the ingredients for lasting marriages, loving families, and tolerance of all people no matter whether they share little else in common.

None of us know the immediate future, but we all know one day our life here on Earth will end.  As we get closer to that inevitable day, will we have deep regrets we did not use our days wisely, or will we have a peace knowing we made thoughtful decisions and good use of the time we were given?    Will we be able to recount accomplishments and the fulfillment of goals with few regrets?

Did we strive to engage in matters that not only just impact us or our immediate families, but also our communities, our state, and/or country? Those who have been self-absorbed and paid little attention to all around them have missed important opportunities to make a positive difference in everyone’s lives.

There will always be that which was and is out of our control, but the decisions of how we live and what we do are ultimately ours to make.  It is these choices that we will reflect upon one day, either with regrets, or knowing we did our best to make each day one that was productive and had promising results.  Living a purpose driven life will always be a solace no matter what life has delivered.It has often been said:  “A life spent with no real purpose is a wasted one.”

Our choice will not only be important during our last days, but making educated, purposeful decisions every day is the key to a successful life, whether that involves our families or beyond.   As we exist in a world in which there are many  paths and directions one can take, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not choose wisely.

Illinois Review
Illinois Review
Founded in 2005, Illinois Review is the leading perspective and source of conservative news, opinion and information in Illinois. Follow Illinois Review on X at @IllinoisReview.


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