A Wasted Life

Posted: September 20, 2009 by clairer in Purpose

It’s been nearly a year since I read The Great Gatsby for my AP Literature class.  Off hand, I couldn’t tell you now the last name of the narrator, all of the major themes, or the motifs, but there is one scene that I can still remember very clearly (and I hope I’m not spoiling this for anyone.  If I am, skip to the next paragraph): Jay Gatsby’s funeral.  Nick, the narrator of the story, is desperate to have at least some of Gatsby’s “friends” come to the funeral.  However, no one is available to come.  One person has a picnic, another is on vacation, and the hundreds that “flocked” to his house every Saturday for his parties are suddenly too busy to even bid farewell to the man who hosted them year-round.   In the end, the only people at the funeral are Nick, Gatsby’s father, and the minister who is performing the service.

In many ways, people would consider Gatsby’s life a wasted one.  He spent his life chasing someone who wasn’t even worthy of his love and, in the end, there was no one who cared whether he was dead or alive.

The topic of wasting one’s life is not an uncommon one when it comes to teens.  It seems like everyone is telling teens to “not waste your life” because “time goes faster than you would think.”  There have been plenty of books published on the topic, from Don’t Waste Your Life (an appropriate title) by John Piper to Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris.  However, I think it’s something that we as teens continually miss.

The fact of the matter is, we only have so long on earth.  Before we know it, our teen years are over and we’re in our twenties, then our thirties, then suddenly we’re middle aged, and then we’re old!  We don’t even have the guarantee of out-living our teens.  Every second, every minute, every day is a gift and it’s important that we put our gift of life to good use.

When teens hear the words, “Don’t waste your life,” though, I think that there is a temptation for them to think that the only way they can not waste their lives is by solving world hunger or by starting some organization that saves the lives of a million children in Africa — and that’s great!  If that’s what you feel God is calling you to do in your life and that’s the purpose He’s given you, then go for it!  However, I think in many ways, God is calling us to a different purpose in life – perhaps not something quite as glamorous as solving world hunger, but something equally important to Him.

I think the first step in not wasting your life is simply not wasting your time.  I’d encourage you to reevaluate how you spend your time.  Do you spend more time on Facebook or meditation of God’s word?  In your free time, are you distracted by all the things you want to do, more than how you can serve your family?  This is an area where I always seem to fall short.  However, I think if we truly have a desire to live our lives for God’s glory, we will want to spend every moment that we have working to fulfill His purpose in our lives instead of wasting our time on pointless things that are fading away.

  1. Katlyn says:

    Claire –
    thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    good stuff to think about…


  2. Anna says:

    Thanks for the reminder Claire. I’ve heard a good number of adults telling me not waste my life, or miss my High School years, but I don’t remember them telling me how; until now. =) Thanks.

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