A Lot Can Happen in 50 Years

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. – James 4:14

A couple of weeks ago I attended my 50-year high school reunion.

At the opening luncheon I enjoyed a long and animated conversation with an old classmate. At the party that evening I saw her again and said “Hi!” She looked surprised.

Ann! You haven’t changed a bit!” she exclaimed.

I laughed. “You mean since the luncheon this afternoon?” She looked surprised.

“There was a luncheon this afternoon? Huh! I must have missed it.”

I was a little taken aback, but then realized we’re approaching that season where short-term memory loss can start. That was a little scary to me.

Equally scary was seeing a classmate walking with a cane, another who’d been brought from the nursing home where she’d lived for several years, and another who had lost her vision three years ago. There were a number of cancer survivors, one who had survived a brain aneurism, and numerous widows. This was not only scary, but deeply inspiring. In talking about their lives, where they had been, the adventures they had had (Old people have much better stories than young people.), every one of these ladies spoke with the same bubbly enthusiasm I remembered from school. We just looked different.

I didn’t realize how different until the slide show.

Grainy photos of innocent-looking kindergartners, mischievous grade school students, awkward middle schoolers, cocky high school girls ready to take on the world, and teachers no doubt long departed brought laughs and fond memories. Then snapshots of sports, plays, dances, graduations, weddings, babies, mothers-of-brides, grandchildren, and past reunions all flew by in a matter of less than an hour. At the end of the show, the lights came up and everyone cheered and applauded the photographer-classmate who had pulled it all together.

Even writing this now, I have tears in my eyes. Where did fifty years go? Was I the only one acutely aware of the brevity of our lives?

“Life is fleeting.” I know that’s a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason. Young people hear old people warn them that they will blink and be old, and the young people roll their eyes, mumble “Yeah,” and think, That’s what they always say. (At least I know that’s what I thought.)

Early the next evening, a group of us gathered to pay our respects to the classmates who had passed on. Beside the bench that was our class gift to the school was a concrete column displaying the names of departed classmates on small placards; someday it will have all of our names on it. I played the harp, we sang a hymn, a classmate gave a brief devotional, and we prayed in unison the “prayer for graduates” we had all memorized in school.

At the final party the next night, my peers and I were rocking out to the classic 60’s and 70’s songs played by fellow classmates’ retro band. (One 18-year-young man, there to help haul the sound equipment, stood looking amazed – and amused – at the stamina of these “old folks.”)

There seemed to have been two themes of the weekend:

I.) Age is not a deterrent! Even with disabilities that tend to come with aging, we can still live full lives, especially when dedicated to the One who created us and apparently isn’t finished with us yet. Even the gal with short-term memory loss was the life of the party. Aware of her impairment, she nevertheless enjoyed living in the moment, chatting and laughing with the rest of us. As I visited with the classmate who had lost her eyesight, we talked about our love of audiobooks and made recommendations to each other. Unbeknownst to her, she’s inspired me to stop procrastinating, get my novel Counselor off the shelf, and make it into an audiobook so she and others like her can enjoy it.

2.) Life is short! Time is short! There’s been a lot of talk lately among Christians about the “last days” and whether the end is coming soon. But for any one of us, the end could be today. As I read the names of the classmates on the pedestal by the bench, I knew some of them were believers in Jesus Christ and are now with Him. As for the others, I don’t know. As I wrote my page for our “second senior yearbook,” I was aware that reading my “letter to my younger self” might be the last chance some of these ladies have to know the gospel, put their faith in Jesus, and secure their places in heaven. I pray the Lord plants those words where they’re needed.

In case you missed it …

Don’t waste another moment. Whatever your age, if you don’t know Jesus, or you’re not sure, I urge you to get to know Him today! (Read the gospel of John in the Bible, especially chapter 3.) He holds the key to abundant life here and eternal life afterward. (“Afterward” is sooner than you think.)

Prayer: Lord, Your Word says our lives are a mist that quickly disappears. Teach us to make the most of our days, be assured of heaven, and take as many people along as we can, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

35 thoughts on “A Lot Can Happen in 50 Years

  1. Beautiful, insightful, post, Annie. I couldn’t help but think when reading through it that the importance of “I” diminishes as the road ahead gets shorter, and the view from behind us sheds light on the remaining road ahead. Thank you for sharing. Blessings!

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  2. This was lovely to read Ann. Live in the moment and make the best use of each day to live for the Lord. Time does fly, I don’t exactly feel that with myself yet ( maybe a little bit) but feel it more through my son. I feel like just not long ago he was little and now 17yrs old.

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  3. Good sharing Anne. Maybe I should finally go to a reunion. They have them every year. Lots of bad memories for me. Kind of sad as many of my classmates turned out well. It will be 50 years next year. I’m different and not even close to the skinny very quiet kid who was teased for several years after a farm accident. College was so different.

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  4. I did not make my high school’s 50th, but did attend the 20th and 30th. The thing I remember most was the “great reversal” that happened to us all… especially at the 30th. Meaning that the kids who were most shy and awkward in high school (therefore the least popular) were now the most confident and assured and the ones who were the most popular “back then” seemed to be a bit lost and adrift in the later years. Did you see something like that?

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    1. I’m praying and hoping for that, Lisa Beth. I grew up in a social setting where faith was a “private” thing, and where kids were taught to be good mannered, so without the Holy Spirit’s help, it was hard to determine who really knew Jesus and who was just a nice person who went to church on Sunday.

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  5. I am in my late 50s and am very aware of the brevity of life. Last year, I sat with my Dad the day he died and it really sharpened my focus as to what matters and what doesn’t … and to the fact that we only get a limited time to make our choices and decisions. Once our allotted time had passed, it has passed. As it says in the Bible, it won’t always be Today.

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  6. Yes, life is short–a good thing for those of us who know the Lord, but not for those who don’t. I once read something by a believer musing how horrible it would be for us to be “trapped” forever in our aging, less able, still-sinful bodies and minds. I agree. While I’m not in a hurry to go, I’m looking forward to being in the presence of the Lord and sin-free!

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    1. As Woody Allen put it, “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” πŸ˜πŸ™„
      I love the ancient symbol of Christianity, the butterfly. The image of breaking free from that shriveled up shell and taking to the sky … πŸ¦‹

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  7. Maybe that friend of yours has a twin? Or a doppelganger?

    The schools I went to don’t really do reunions (unless they are privately arranged and the invites only go to the people from the ‘in’ circle). A couple of years ago I was unable to go to one and learned afterward that it was still click-y like back in the day. Kinda sad.

    Seeing people your age with mental or physical shortcomings can be scary. Another reason why I’m not a fan of those reunions. We just can’t help ourselves but compare.

    I’m glad you had fun though πŸ™‚ Stay golden!

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    1. It was humbling to see what some of my classmates had been through and how strong they are still. As for the cliques, it was great to see everyone was “over” that immaturity. One “cool” girl who had not been nice to the “un-cool” in school, died relatively young. After her death, one of her former victims said she had received a letter from her, after all those years, apologizing for the way she had treated her. I like to think that Jesus got a hold of that “mean girl” toward the end, and she was making peace with others because she was at peace with Him.

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    1. I hope you have a great reunion, Nancy. And I pray you will have many opportunities to share Christ. I have found reunions to be a great time to testify – everyone is asking what’s been going on in your life… πŸ˜πŸ‘

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