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Living the good life

By Nathan Rice

Today’s the day I turn the big 4-0. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve completed 40 trips around the sun, but there is no stopping time. Every year seems to go faster than the one that came before.

I took some time the past few weeks to assess my life as this milestone birthday approached. I thought back to the dreams and goals I had earlier in life. Like many children and young adults, I believed I could take on the world and come out on top. Like many adults, I’ve had to come to terms with not reaching those goals, and I’ve watched many of my dreams crash and burn despite my best efforts to succeed.

I discovered something in my reflections through a song that I listened to in the 1990s. The song is a strange mix of tragedy and joy that resonates with me today in a way that it could not have done when I first put the CD in my player back in the ’90s. I ask that you indulge me as I share this revelation. It is, after all, my birthday.

The lyrics of the opening verse sound more like the blues than a pop-rock song. It says, “I’ve watched my dreams all fade away and blister in the sun. Everything I’ve ever had is unraveled and undone. I’ve set upon a worthless stack of my ambitious plans, and the people that I’ve loved the most have turned their backs and ran.”

I am sure that many of us can relate to those lyrics as dreams have failed and people have left us, leaving us with a feeling of being unraveled and undone. This isn’t a song of despair or hopelessness, however. Soon the song will declare, “This is the good life!”

The song tells of the good life the artist found in Jesus Christ. He says, “I found everything I could ever need here in Your arms.” It’s a bold statement from someone who sang, “I’ve lost everything I could ever want and ever dream of” just one line before. It may sound strange to some people, but it’s something I understand perfectly.

The older I get, the more I realize that dreams, accomplished or not, do not determine my ability to have a good life. The good life isn’t found in accomplishments. The good life is found when I am in the arms of the One who created me, loves me, and has promised to guide me and keep me.

Dreams and goals are not bad things. We should strive to be the best we can be, but I worry there are many people who place their ability to have a good life on achieving certain accomplishments. Therefore, any setbacks on reaching certain goals in life bring despair and hopelessness.

I have not reached my dreams. I’ve had people I love walk away from me, and I’ve had my share of heartaches. Nevertheless, I know I’m in the arms of the One who loves me and who will never leave me. Therefore, as I turn 40, I can say, “This is the good life.”

I urge those who feel like they are unraveled and undone to turn to the One who promised “life to the full” to anyone who comes to Him.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.