Regret < Gratitude

Over the span of a couple of weeks, I've heard of a handful of deaths all ranging from old age to realities much more tragic. Even if I wasn't closely connected to these people, the reality of it still hits me and I truly empathize with those mourning. The thought of the loss and end of a these lives lingers bitterly. 

How true it is when James says that we are a mist that appears for a short time then vanishes away. We're always reminded of just how short life is, and He puts this sense of urgency in our hearts to help others in the time we have. 

But I think above all, what's really been standing out to me with these recent tragedies is the immense amount of regret that people have once these people left -- things that weren't said, love that wasn't expressed, appreciation that wasn't shown. At least, not as often as hoped. And I have to think...

Why does it take a death to make words, love and appreciation finally come out? Must we always wait until it's too late? Why does it take death to make us remember we are grateful for others?

I scroll through social media and find hundreds of hundreds of heartfelt messages that people wished they had said before and it breaks my heart. I have to wonder if there are any words that I need to say, if there's any love needed to be expressed, any appreciation needed to be shown to people in my life? What do I love and enjoy about these people, and do they know this? Do I need to show it more? What should they know, and do I plan on letting them know? If God were to call them to Him right now, what would I be writing to them far too late? 

And if I were to leave, what would people be writing on my Facebook wall? 

It gives me shivers to think about these things. But I realize life is far too short to withhold love, for any reason. God calls us to, above all things, love each other in action and in deed. In other words, let people know and feel your agape love for them -- why wait to show it? People deserve to know that they are loved, appreciated and cared about. Quite frankly, there are people who are in deep and dire need to hear and know just that. Everyone is desperate to feel God's love, through others' love for them.

With that said, I no longer need to be fearful of expressing these things to others. I don't want to wait until it's "too late" to show how I feel about the people around me. I want to start being real about how I feel about others -- I think they deserve that, and I deserve that of myself. I don't want to wake up one morning to tragic news and know that they never heard or felt these words from me.

I want to let my mom know I appreciate and love her. I want to let my siblings know I love them despite what I did to them in the past. I want to let my dad know he's still loved. I want to let my friends know how thankful I am for them for these lifelong friendships. I want to let that friend know that even though they're messing up, I'm still here for them. I want to let another know that my attention has been caught. I want to thank people for the kindness they show to other people and let them know they inspire me.

And I found that with all these various bits and pieces of emotions, the common ground for it all is that I've held myself back from expressing them more clearly for whatever respective reasons (being seen as weird, being judged, or rejected). But I'm not going to withdraw anymore. Maybe I don't have to do all this with words, but my goal this year is to start letting people know with assurance and certainty that they're important to me in any amount.

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18)