A Day When I Remembered – Forwards
When I was in Year 12, studying for my final exams, I caught a glimpse of myself in the just-turned-off TV screen. There I was, 17 years old, and about to launch into my adult life. My teen-woman self. I gazed at my reflection, and memorised the image I saw in the greeny-blackness. I wondered what my life would look like when I turned 40. When I turned 50.
I could only hope that I would be healthy, happy, and perhaps, maybe, look a little like that 17 year old I saw gazing back at me!
As I look back on that day, it’s like I was remembering forward. A dream of a dream. Time yet to unfold, but seen in the distance. It was just like we look back and see what happened from afar, only I was looking forward. Have you ever done that?
Interestingly, it didn’t cross my mind to think about being older than my fifties. I really had no idea how to look further. For me as a 17 year old, imagining my future life was like looking ahead while canoeing on a rushing river. The water coursed over rocks, along gullies, and into deep ravines. There, mapped out ahead, some milestones loomed . . . “university”, “marriage” and “children”. Even “Mother-of-the-Bride” and “Grandma” were there somewhere. But then the river, quite suddenly, plunged over the edge of a waterfall. To envisage life beyond the age my mother was when she died, at 57, was impossible. Like that river, my imaginings appeared to abruptly end.
Have you thought about what your life could look like?
There is “a given” in life that most of us have no control over. A looming date which is always there. Unspoken. Rarely thought about. It’s like Damocles’ sword, which forever reminded him that the end was just a hair’s breadth away. And the thing is, this date has a pigeon pair – it’s a date you know very well. It’s the day you celebrate your birthday. Possibly with mixed feelings. Every year!
In contrast, the mysterious date of your death is unknown and instead of marking the beginning of your life, it will complete your life cycle. Between those two dates – birth and death – your existence stretches. And right now, you live somewhere between them. The days gone by are known; and the days ahead are unlived, unseen, and can only be imagined.
Do you ever wonder what your life could look like? As you treasure each of your days, preparing for your future is a good thing to do.
When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood.
How Do We Envisage The Future?
To imagine what life could look like, we all gather up information already known, and wonder (or wander) into the future. Cues come from different sources, but mostly we not really aware of them. Perhaps from:
- Family members. For example, my older sisters married at 21, and while I didn’t deliberately aim for that age, well, that’s when I tied the knot too.
- Preconceived ideas shape us. It was just assumed my sisters and I would go to university, and funnily enough we all did.
- And there are decisions we make along the way . . .
- Perhaps as you were growing up you decided on some course of action. For me, I decided to be a teacher when I was quite young.
- Or more recent decisions might cancel out earlier ones. However, as a teen I decided I really was NOT cut out to be a teacher! I had no more dreams about teacher training after that.
Yes, we dream. Each one of us pulls these ideas together into an incomplete thought about who we will become. Amazingly, we often turn out to be what we dreamed about. Sometimes it’s a conscious thought and plan; but frequently, we make our choices, and somehow our life’s journey takes us there.
One Person in your Life is Like an Anchor
As a reference point, we women often want know how our mothers’ lives unfolded, because she informs the lives of her daughters. Your relationship with your mother is the most primary of all relationships, and unconsciously, you draw on her experiences. Like it or not, your mother is like an anchor from whose perspective we view life, if not as an adult, then as a child. Most people saw a lot of their mother’s life while they are growing up.
Because your relationship with your mother is the most primary of all relationships, unconsciously, you draw on her experience.
And in 2017 – in my imaginary canoe – I reached that waterfall moment I could only vaguely see back as a teen-woman. The life I could not imagine came. 2017 was the year which rolled on past those significant birthdays and anniversaries. Together, they amounted to my glass ceiling. You can read about them HERE. And even now, the image of my 17-year-old-self in the blank TV screen is with me. Have I done her dreams justice? I truly hope so.
So let’s imagine what your life could look like
It’s always a good time to ask God to show you his picture of you. He knows you from beginning to end. He’s happy to give you a glimpse of what he wants for you. Read this, from Jeremiah 29:11 . . .
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
If you have never thought about how your future might unfold, let me encourage you to do it, because it’s a good exercise. How else do you get where you want to go unless you can imagine it first? It becomes quite exciting to think about what your life could look like.
And if you have already thought about it, do you realise how powerful your presuppositions are? Envisaging your future, in reality, shapes the person you become.
So take some time to do a little more intentional imagining than I did at 17. Write it down. Make it plain. (That’s what is says in Habakkuk 2:2)
What your life could look like >>>
- Think about what your life could look like in five years’ time.
- Where do you live? What sort of housing? Who do you live with?
- Are you employed? If so what do you do? If you don’t work – what do you do?
- Are you well? What is your state of health? Do you look different?
- Write down 10 things (yes 10!) you would love to have done by then.
- Write a letter to your older self, encouraging her for having reached her dreams.
- Even if you have lost your mother, as I did, try to dream beyond her age at death. Write down what your life could look like, and then choose to dream beyond that. I understand there is a blank there for you. But actually, you are not constrained here because you have no role model, and the sky’s the limit! Ask yourself, what sort of person you would like to be. I mean, really think about it.
- Answer those same four questions above, but think about your life at 50, and 60. (Or 70, or older if needed.)
Now, choose ONE of those dreams and make a plan. Step-by-step, map out what needs to happen to get to that place. Add realistic time-frames. Nothing big ever happens by mistake. Small steps will get you there, as long as you keep moving forward.
Place your list and letter in an envelope, or a safe place on your computer. Revisit those dreams every so often, and make plans for them, one by one. However, you will be surprised by what comes to pass. Some of those crazy ideas will happen, just because you started thinking about them.
Amazingly, you CAN imagine what your life could look like!