Bucket List? No, Thanks.

I’ve seen a post floating around Facebook lately labeled “bucket list,” and the plan is for people to respond to the list by placing an X next to statements such as “fired a gun” and “skipped school” if they’ve had these experiences. Some of these I just wouldn’t aspire to do–such as eating only cake or cookies or ice cream for dinner (although once I did eat only pecan pie for supper in my single days; I maintain it was a bad idea). Some, though, I find compelling (in a good way) and am thankful I’ve done them–such as donating blood, camping in a tent, and watching a drive-in movie.

I have purposely not created my own bucket list, not really, because I try to follow Anne Voskamp‘s principle of living my one life well, as opposed to aiming for certain experiences to enliven my day-to-day life. Even in the quotidian, I believe that life is full of adventures–some tiny, some bigger. I do have goals (and things in mind that I want to try), but I also want to keep the mindset of being open to opportunities that God brings along.

Last fall, my boys and I drove back from our weekly library trip and saw an elderly woman fall off the steps of her home as we entered our neighborhood. Concerned, I stopped to ask her if she was all right, if she needed any help. She spoke little English but did tell me her name is Ilda. She kissed me on the cheek (by way of thanks, I suppose) and we said good-bye. I’m thankful that God gave me the grace to be open in that moment to how I could offer a small gesture of kindness. I suppose that’s what I mean by living my one life well.

glass of flowers with cross

But I really do like creating lists, so I thought I’d make my own {short} list of some significant experiences I’ve had and put an X beside them. Here goes…

  • Organized a community clothing give-away. (With our church. We served around 50 people who picked up free clothing–some new, most used–at the beginning of a new school year. Some beautiful souls from our church family pitched in.)
  • Paid a stranger’s library fine. (I stood in line behind her when she tried to renew a book. She wasn’t allowed to do so until she paid the fine–yet she had no money with her. I gave a quarter for her to re-check the book.)
  • Bought a meal for a homeless person. (In Chicago, on a week-long mission trip. Sixteen years later, I remember his name was Daniel. He ate chili, crackers, and drank Sprite inside a Wendy’s restaurant while he sat with me and two college students in the campus ministry with which I served while we talked and prayed with Daniel.)
  • Left coins on a fountain for somebody else to find and toss into the water. X (Twice, I left a penny or two on the edge of an outdoor fountain. I don’t place any real value in wishing, but it’s kind of a sweet little tradition, the “wishing well.” And I thought it might bring a smile to another’s face.)

As you can see, I didn’t simply write a list–I included the stories behind those X marks. Just having an experience is not necessarily what I’m after; I long to give of myself, to live life in such a way that it matters to other people. So whether you are laboring to check off items on a social media-circulated bucket list or brainstorming a bucket list for yourself or simply endeavoring to embrace the joyful in the mundane, I hope you consider your story. And all the stories, really…all the stories that make up a life. Here’s to hoping we make ours well-lived.






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