May 18, 2016

Borrowed Time

Gary Thomas — 

Borrowed Time

At first, I thought I had sprained my little finger. It hurt when I used it for anything, but I couldn’t remember the point of injury.  And then I eventually realized that both little fingers felt the same way.

“What a coincidence,” I thought, “but time will make them feel better.”

And then they started hurting a bit when I typed. At first I thought, “That’s a little poetic justice—that it hurts physically to rip these words out of my soul,” but after a while, the “poetry” got tiresome. At that point, I just started waiting (somewhat impatiently) for the injuries to heal.

Until my wife noticed the obvious.

The injury wasn’t outside; it was inside.

“You have arthritis,” she said.

“Not possible,” I responded. “Old women have arthritis. Not 54-year-old men.”

My mom started getting arthritis at 50 and has had it pretty bad, and arthritis is primarily genetic. I went to a doctor who confirmed my wife’s initial suspicion.

My first response, after it was confirmed was, “Marathons.

If this stuff spreads into my feet or toes or knees or ankles, my marathon days are over. I’m training for the Munich marathon in October, because it finishes in the same stadium that Frank Shorter won his gold medal during the 1972 Summer Olympics. I was ten years old at the time, and when I saw a guy with arms that looked as skinny as mine actually win a gold medal in the Olympics, I thought, “That’s my sport.” It seemed poetic to run a marathon that finished in the same spot.Frank Shorter

In light of the arthritis I had to ask, “Will Munich be my last marathon?”

Doctors aren’t much help. Half of them have been suggesting I shouldn’t have ever run marathons to begin with (I’ve switched doctors in the past because of that). But I’m relishing training for this upcoming marathon, in part because I don’t know if it will be the last one. So far, my legs feel completely fine, but after talking to my mom about how arthritis progressed with her, there’s a definite sense that I’m running on “borrowed time.”

In the same way as my marathon training, all of us are living on “borrowed time” in our marriages and with our children. We go from day to day, assuming time will keep rolling forward, but the reality is we don’t know, we can’t know, when the day will end and our marriages will be over. We assume old age, but we’ve all seen way too many marriages end much sooner with a car accident, a shocking heart attack or stroke, or sometimes an affair.

So let’s give ourselves fully to our spouses today. Let’s be as involved in our kids’ lives as we can be today. We don’t know if there will be a tomorrow. There’s no promise of that.

Is there a trip the two of you have been meaning to take together “someday?” Put that trip on a definite calendar instead of a “someday” calendar. Is there something you need to say to one of your children when the time is right? The time is right.

Don’t put up with a mediocre marriage if the mediocrity is mainly because of a lack of intention. If you and your spouse are letting time race by, stop in your tracks, reject the passiveness that is slowly turning you into roommates instead of intimate lovers and friends, and say, “Let’s enjoy each other today because we don’t know how many tomorrows we have.”

The passing of time and the uncertainty of time can be our friend, a holy companion, if we use it to live with a certain (but peaceful and restful) urgency.

In all your relationships, you are living on borrowed time. It may all end long before you were planning. In light of that, what should you do or say today?


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13 responses to Borrowed Time

  1. Is there any hope for a 74-year-old woman to find a true born-again Christian man? I have been a widow for for six years and would love to find a gentleman at this time in my life.

  2. Great post, as always!!! It is easy to take each day for granted, sit on our laurels and try to coast through life thinking there will always be another tomorrow. Thank you for the reminder Gary!

  3. Unfortunately, I see too many people neglecting their marriages because there’s a sense that their partner will just always “be there.” This leads to a slow drifting apart that can prove fatal to a marriage. I experienced this in my own marriage: My husband was more intentional with his business, his customers, his biking, his golf game — than he was with our relationship and with the children. Eventually, when years of multiple affairs were discovered, it wasn’t the infidelity that destroyed our marriage, it was the many years of neglect. YOUR SPOUSE DESERVES THE BEST OF YOU, NOT WHAT’S LEFT AFTER YOU’VE SPENT YOUR TIME, ENERGY, AND RESOURCES ON THE REST OF THE WORLD.

  4. Ray S Frederick May 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Jeanne has the right idea, at least for me. My Dr. told me to stop swimming at 85 because of a High School (swimming injury) that was beginning to restrict my stroke. His excuse was my age-after all you getting too old—Which was suppose to be NORMAL. To me normal stinks and there
    is a clinic here in Washington who agree. We also inherit our family lifestyle-which can be our
    genetic’s. So with a cleaner diet and a couple of supplements–were 92 and still pushing.

  5. Hi Gary,
    Today truly is a gift (the present)! Thank you for the reminder to live and love to the fullest while we have the opportunity. No one on earth knows what tomorrow will bring.
    Regarding arthritis, I’ve found that a clean, anti-inflammatory diet does wonders to alleviate the pain and swelling.
    Also, thank you for the great message on Sunday at 5!

    • Thanks Jeanne, and believe me, my wife is ON the dietary, essential oil, naturopathic trail, big time. And I hope you come back this Sunday evening for 4:9….

  6. Lindsey Pennella May 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Arthritis doesn’t take the soul…and man, you have soul! We love you Gary!

  7. Russell Herman May 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

    as a 45 year old male, former Marine, and outdoor enthusiast, who has been diagnosed and suffering with Psoriatic Arthritis now for around 15 years – I sympathize with you and your diagnosis. Try not to let it define you though – and take advantage of whatever time you have before it worsens for you. Mine started in my toes, then hands, and has progressed to consuming several joints. Can’t tell you how many steroid injections i’ve had in various joints (tmj, knuckles, ankles, neck, shoulders, knee, etc.). Pain is one part – but the fatigue can be very overwhelming. Lean heavily on Christ. Remember the promises of Psalm 91 – he will command his angels to protect you from stumbling on the rocks on the trail. That verse got me through 2 three miles runs in Boot Camp with a knee swollen to the size of a cantaloupe! God Bless!