Over dinner recently, my mom made a comment to the effect of: Life feels both long and short. I quickly chimed in with a I’ve been feeling the same way! She didn’t like that. You’re too young to feel like that, she said. But oh well, I can’t help what I feel.
Like many people privileged enough to “want to do something” with their lives, I’ve been thinking about the question of, er, what is the meaning of my life, a lot. These days, the answer vacillates between crystal clear and not clear at all. When it’s the former, I’m amped and ready to go. When it’s the latter, that’s when I tend to feel like life is short. It’s passing by too quickly. Then I think about why I’m alive at this particular point in time and, inevitably, I get to pondering why I won’t get to see what happens in, say, 2674. (#CosmicFOMO is the worst.)
In late November, I went to a press event featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper and Magnolia Market. They largely spoke about color, paint, and renovations—my takeaways on those topics are on Curbed.
The event, hosted by Kilz, included a swag bag, and in it was a copy of Chip’s new book Capital Gaines (full title: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff). I started the book right away, anticipating I’ll like it because I’m a casual fan of the show and the Gaines’ general energy. What I didn’t quite expect was all the spiritual encouragement I would end up absorbing.
It’s perfectly summed up in the two Ecclesiastes verses chosen to bookend Chip’s own words:
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
The God-Given Task
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
Ecclesiastes 3: 9:-13 (NIV)
In between is an 170-page candid account of how Chip and Joanna—and all the things they are now (or won’t be, in the case of Fixer Upper ending after its current season)—came to be. It covers the decisions surrounding their marriage, family, businesses, individual passions, and, through it all, the ways they have discerned God’s plans for their lives.
In reading about their experiences, I was reminded that to lose your life is to gain it and that if I truly leave my life in the hands of God, it no longer really matters whether life is long or short. Work on earth may be short-lived, marked with a clear beginning and end, but the spiritual work is eternal.
Capital Gaines will probably speak most to people who are interested in one or more of the following: family, entrepreneurship, and the Christian walk.
I’m interested in all of above, so this was a very rewarding read. I’ll close with a few passages that especially resonated with me.