Consider the final hour of your life. How old will you be? What will you die of? What will those final moments be like? Will you be at peace or filled with regrets? In order to grow in love, you need to be at peace with dying – while you’re healthy. When we drill down through all our fears, dying is our greatest.
At least once a week, I consider my death. I am aware that it could happen at any time. My awareness gives me peace and perspective. Not perfectly nor always, of course. But more so than most people. I notice it while traveling up the hill towards my home. Large trucks descend at high speed in the opposite lane. One sudden wrong move and my car will be crushed, and me in it.
Does my wife know I love her? Is there anything that needs saying that I have left unsaid? I think of my son in the same way. At 17, it would be hard to lose your dad. I re-check. Have I given him all I have to offer? Does he have what he needs to make it in the world without me? Yes he does but I don’t dismiss the sense of loss that would likely hit him.
I am aware that I am not in control of this question. Hence, my faith is my anchor. What else can a person rely on? Their bank account? Their insurance policy? These will be important to those we love but they are cold comfort to me.
To consider your own death is to consider surrendering your life at its most existential level. Anything could strike you at anytime. Someday it will, that is a guarantee. Surprisingly, there is a great freedom in coming to peace with that now, while you’re healthy.
A friend is depressed. He thinks life is not worth living as he digests losses from income to marriage to children who’ve grown up and moved on. I suspect that if he asked himself this question, he might rather die. The fear that we actually want to die keeps many of us from looking death in the eye. Yet our drinking, smoking and eating habits suggest that many of us secretly do want to die.
Another fear is that asking the question might bring on the answer. As if saying life is good out loud will somehow curse you. That too, is merely one more fear blocking you from growing in love.
Jesus’ most beloved disciple, John, wrote in chapter 4 of his first book, “Perfect love drives out fear.” He also wrote, “God is love.” If this is true, then if you want to grow in love, you must become willing to look at that which you fear. Jesus said, “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Jn 14:27)
Without a fear of dying, you take a major step towards having nothing to hide, nothing to prove and nothing to lose. You move towards having the same attitude towards life that Jesus had. Fearless love and bottomless trust that God is in charge and life will unfold as it should.
Suddenly, that argument, that work deadline, that problem with your loved one, they are all in perspective. You are seeing clearly, without a plank in your eye. Now you know what you need to do. Even better, now you have the courage to do it…from a place of love, not fear.
If inner conflicts are robbing your peace, get resources and support at InnerPeaceMission.org.