I sit on the couch slurping a light beer and watching the Food Network. Later, I swing by Wendy’s for a cheeseburger with fries and a Diet Coke. Still bored, I go to the movie theater and catch the latest flick. Afterward, I come home and surf random websites.
And I rarely stop to ask myself: Is this the stuff that an amazing life is made of?
If I were standing outside myself, looking in on my life, I’d have to say, “Not really. That guy’s kind of lame. He’s not making very good use of his time.”
Recently I read Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and he talks about living your life as a great story. When he realizes that he hasn’t been living his life that way, Miller writes:
“I stood for a while and heard the voices of children who didn’t exist and felt the tender touch of a wife who wanted me to listen to her. I felt, at once, the absent glory of a life that could have been.”
And there you have it: “A life that could have been.” Every single day we have the chance to make our life “a life that could have been.” Why aren’t we doing it?
When I’m not wasting time watching TV, I’m usually reading. I often read about people like St. Francis embarking on a mission of peace to the Muslim sultan of his time. Or Thomas Merton, seeking his true self and writing poetry to the glory of God.
But here’s the problem: I read, get inspired, and then… I pick up the TV remote and check out the latest news on CNN. Why am I not getting out and doing something like these saints I admire? It’s perfectly within my power to do so. But I typically don’t.
Too often, the most inspiring thing I do is eke out a morning prayer and attend Sunday Mass. Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot in my life that would make someone sit up and say, “Wow, that guy’s different. He’s living a truly great life.”
When I think about how this applies to the dating life, it makes me wonder: If I was a woman, am I the kind of guy that I’d want to date?
When I think of what women might be looking for in a mate, I think of several things: besides being tall, dark, and handsome, they probably want a guy who’s super buff and rolls out of bed smelling good and goes to his high-powered job as a CEO or something. He looks sharp in a sleek suit, driving his new Benz. He probably doesn’t sport a T-shirt and jeans or drive a light blue Saturn (guilty). I mean, come on, they don’t even make Saturns any more.
I don’t drive an awesome car or wear Armani. I’m not buff either, but I do run on a regular basis. I sign up for half marathons because it forces me to get out and exercise. And when I do that, I’m being a good steward of my body and taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s a small thing, but I’m getting closer to living the kind of life that “could have been.”
So how do we start living a better story?
For each of us, it looks different, of course. And I think it usually starts with doing small things. Maybe you need to take a risk and make a new friend. Maybe you need to call an old acquaintance and have a conversation you’ve been putting off. Maybe you need to tell someone, “I’m sorry.” These are seemingly small things that add up slowly, almost imperceptibly, toward creating a better kind of life.
Whether it’s dating or finance or any other aspect of life, maybe all you need to do is just start asking the questions:
- What am I doing to make myself the kind of person that I would admire?
- What am I doing to make myself the kind of mate that my future spouse needs?
- What am I doing to be worthy of my future mate?
We can ask these questions and we can act upon them. Nothing is stopping us but us.
So today, I’m going to start asking the little questions that lead to big changes. I’m going to put down the remote for just a little while, email an old friend, lace up my running shoes, and start living “a life that could have been.”