Recently, I've been listening to sermons from a pastor in Atlanta named Andy Stanley. The current series he is speaking on is called "Breathing Room." Its purpose is to address the hustle and bustle of our lives, and how important it is for us to slow down to breathe and create some space. The most recent message I heard was centered on Psalm 90. In this Psalm, Moses speaks about having our days numbered: "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Andy goes on to talk about how most people live as though their days aren't numbered. That there is an infinite essence to their life. Most people feel as though they're invincible. But then he brings in a brilliant resource in order for people to get a glimpse at the lives of those who know their days are numbered.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spends most of her time with people who are in the last 12 weeks of their life. She asks them a number of questions, one of which is "what do you regret the most about your life?" Bronnie discovered a very consistent pattern that she began write them down. Eventually this book became known as "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying." (Link to purchase book below). What Andy Stanley does using these regrets are to bring his audience to the point where their days are indeed numbered. I found this information to be so insightful and eye opening that I could not pass up sharing it with you. There are five regrets but I want to talk about the top two.
My prayer is that this information will help you to slow down, breathe, and begin to rearrange your life in a way that matters.
Here are the top two regrets of those who are dying:
#2 Regret - I Wish I Hadn't Worked So Hard
We live in a country filled with hard working people. Where people have to work to pay the bills. A place where responsibility is branded into us through early mornings and long hours. Where we have to skip our children's events in order to put food on their table. Where we forgo marriage because our business is so successful and we can't cut back hours. Yet despite all of this, this was the #2 most regrettable thing in someone's life.
Here is a quote from Bronnie Ware's book on this regret:
"This came from every male patient that I had nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."
As a new father and a husband of almost 5 years, this scares me. This causes me to examine where I am with how I spend time at work. Because I don't want to get to the end of my life and say I spent most of my time on things that ultimately didn't matter.
So the question you should ask yourself is: How am I spending my time?
Manage your time towards things that matter where there'd ultimately be no regret.
#1 Regret - I Wish I'd Had The Courage To Live A Life True To Myself, Not The Life Others Expected of Me.
This is the NUMBER ONE regret of those who are dying. It seems as though people spend their lives being what and being who someone else wants them to be. If we don't live up to someone else standards, then we're nothing and nobody. Outside of living a life true to themselves, notice that they wish they had the courage to do it. To need courage is to be in FEAR. Courage is the opposite of fear. Where there is courage, there is no fear. Maybe we live this way because we're afraid we're going to fail their expectation.
Here is a quote from Bronnie Ware on the number one regret:
"This is the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look clearly back on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their own dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom few realize, until they no longer have it."
Stop spending your life being someone else and/or being what someone else wants you to be. Your fear will only cripple you to being yourself and living your dreams. Your fear tells you "I won't be good enough for them" or "they'll be ashamed of me" or "they won't love me unless I..." I am sorry if there are people in your life that cast this kind of fear on you and paralyze you to pursue the life you desire to live.
Allow me to say this in closing. There is a God that exists that has a life so abundant and so extraordinary waiting for you. He wants to call you to Himself that you could change the world. And WHEN you fail or falter, He will simply smile and ask you to get back up again and keep going. Jesus on the cross has already achieved the victory for us so we can then be free to fail. God won't love you less. God won't be ashamed of you. God doesn't want you to be "good enough." He wants you to be YOU. You are the best You we've got, so be that person. Someone so unique and different that we need someone like you. God created you with a purpose and He's waiting to show you what that is.
Don't Live Your Life In Regret. Start NOW to make the right things important AND to be YOURSELF in the process.
Bronnie Ware Book: http://www.amazon.com/Top-Five-Regrets-Dying-Transformed/dp/140194065X
Andy Stanley Message: http://www.northpoint.org/messages/breathing-room