“In 2022, I want my first trip to be either Iceland or Greenland. But now that I checked my bank account, it’s going to be Neitherland.”
Those lines came from an Instagram post I happened to see. It made me chuckle. But, of course, it’s not just our bank accounts that interfere with travel plans. As I write this blog, the Omicron variant is doing the rounds, not just wrecking travel plans but upending our lives.
When the topic of “Bucket List for 2022” came up for Indiaanya, I realized that we’re in a bit of a Catch 22. Never before has the possibility of “kicking the bucket” been in sharper focus than the last two years of the pandemic. And, yet, there’s little we can do to check items off our bucket lists when the doors to so many opportunities are shut tight.
Is it then, perhaps, time to reimagine what our bucket lists should include? Have we bought into this cultural notion that we should live “bigger, brighter, bolder”—or otherwise we will be pummelled by regret in our last moments on earth?
While I’m not going to wish away travel plans or discard my goals for 2022, I do believe that it’s time to re-work my bucket list so it focuses on the inner landscape of my heart rather than where I go or the things I do.
Could we perhaps rejig our bucket lists to include these three R’s?
Bucket lists tend to be about things we want to do before we die so we don’t leave this world with the feeling of “I wish I had…”
But here’s the thing: There are always going to be dreams that slip through our fingers. The only way we can rid ourselves of regret in the future is by living with gratitude in the present. If we allow elusive experiences to fill our entire vision, we won’t ever recognize the beauty of the “right now”. Before I kick the bucket, I long to cultivate a thankful heart that is filled with “godliness and contentment.” Before we make our bucket lists, I pray you and I see that our buckets are pretty darn full already.
I doubt anyone reaches the end of their lives and says: “I should never have reconciled with him/ her. I’ll always regret that.” Regret almost always spills out of brokenness, especially damaged relationships. I don’t know how you have been hurt—but God does. And the God who knows the most intimate details of your pain writes a story of redemption and love.
Reconciliation doesn’t always mean that the person who hurt you has the right to walk back into your life. It begins when we ask God to heal the bitterness so it doesn’t keep us trapped in its deceptively-comfortable embrace. Before we make our bucket lists, let’s pray for God to show us where those buckets are cracked and where anger, resentment, bitterness, and envy seep out without our even noticing it.
This is an odd one for the bucket list. Because bucket lists are about one-of-a-kind experiences, not the well-worn, familiar, sometimes-boring track that God has laid before us. But God’s Word is clear. It doesn’t say run the race that is the most adventurous or the one that will get you the most attention. It says, run the race marked out for you.
That means we don’t look over at other people’s race tracks and wish we could lace up our Nike’s and run their race. Neither do we find a track for ourselves and beckon God to come over and bless the path that we’ve already determined is best for us.
Before we seek out thrills and spills, may our bucket lists focus on seeking God and living out His calling on our lives through often-familiar terrain. Living a regret-free life often comes down to using our God-given resources of time, talent, and treasures right where we are so we have the assurance of hearing Him welcome us Home with a, “Well done!”
Maybe 2022 won’t give us the opportunities to travel or have grand adventures. Maybe we won’t make trips to Iceland or Greenland and we’ll continue to make jokes about Neitherland or, perhaps even, Neverland.
But each day of this new year gives us the opportunity to live with gratitude, live free from the trap of bitterness, and live in the fulness that God has planned for us.