A Lesson Before Dying: What My Aunt’s Death Taught Me About Freedom From Fear And Living Life To The Fullest
Her oxygen was turned up to the maximum and she was non-responsive. She wasn’t even squeezing my hand now. But I held her hand and prayed that God would work a miracle, or if that wasn’t in His will, that He would at least give me peace about the situation.
I want to say that my aunt lived a full life but I can’t. I want to say that she did most everything she dreamed of doing before she passed but she did not. I want to say that she was free of the chains of others people’s opinions but she was not. While I watched her live a beautiful life dedicated in service to God as a pastor, mother and all-around nurturer, I also watched her live a life tortured by fear.
“What would they say? What would they think? How will they react? Is it the right time? We have to wait….”
She lived a long life as God’s servant, but the fullness of that life never came to complete fruition. I took a long hard look at her life and saw how it mirrored my own. At 26 years old, I have been afforded many opportunities, many of which I took, but many of which I let slide between my fingers. Why?
I refused myself the deserved happiness and pride of receiving my Master’s degree for fear of being called “uppity” by my own family. (NOTE: They called me “uppity” anyway.) I deferred to share my hopes and dreams divinely placed in my heart for fear of them being shot down as so often they were. I turned down more than a few opportunities to travel abroad for fear of being called flighty. I’ve held myself back in a major way simply because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of other people’s disapproval, fear of the unknown.
But as I watched my aunt, my second mother, lay passing away in that hospital room I realized that life is not to be feared but to be lived. And not just lived in mediocrity, but wholly, abundantly, fully, lovingly, freely. What a disservice we do to ourselves and the God who created us by living just to get by when He has so much more in store for us!
I made the choice that day to usher in my 27th year of life, 2013, with a new mindset, a new outlook, a new resolve to BE and DO everything for which I am purposed. I’m going to learn how to swim (I know right?). I’m going to fall in love. I’m going to travel to many a beautiful destination, camera in hand. I’m going to do the service work I’ve dreamt of for years. I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone, past the ridiculing stares and whispers of others, and I’m going to honor God with my life.
During her life, my aunt gave me roots: a deep respect for God, a desire to stay humble, a desire to serve wherever, however I can. And in her passing, I believe she gave me wings. For I have realized that tomorrow certainly is not promised and every single day, every single moment, every single breath I breathe is another opportunity to be whole, excellent, and free. I relinquish the fear that once drove me to sacrifice myself to the gods of mediocrity and I choose to honor the God of my gifts and talents and callings and opportunities.
It’s a new day and I’m 26 years young. Let freedom (and purpose) ring.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.