Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Expiration Dates

You see them everywhere- on cans of food, on milk, on Tylenol bottles, and even on car seats. Have you ever stopped to look at what they hold?

To expire means, To come to an end; terminate; cease. Put an actual date on such a term, and it's a blatant warning! I see them in a different way. I am more challenged by them. I don't mean that I deliberately make a box of instant rice just because it's going to "go bad" tomorrow, but I do see an opportunity to allow my imagination run wild, and for an availability for growth.

The Imagination Side
I see a date on a can of tuna. It might say, "3/18/15". My first thought is, Sheeeesh! Tuna lasts a long flippin' time!
But almost immediately I think, Wow. That's the day before Renn turns 8. I wonder what kinds of things we'll be talking about that day?  I realize how strange this concept might be, but asking questions that provoke complex thinking, are my favorite: Where will we be when this can of chili is officially inedible? How different will our lives be? What challenges will we be facing?

I once wrote down a date from a can of green beans, when I was 16. The date was "3/12/05". I distinctly remember writing in a letter to my friend, "I wonder what I'll be doing that day. Do you ever think about these things? I mean, what if it's  some huge important day in your life, and you're getting a glimpse into it's importance??"
My friend simply wrote back, "Why do you focus on weird things? No wonder you're failing this class!"

Turns out, 3/12/05 was a big day. It was my wedding day.

I might be weird, but I know I don't focus on the fact that things end. I day dream about what's to come. I try my best to be a live-in-the-moment type, but when I see a future date, the possibilities are endless.

The Growth Side
Are there other reasons to pay attention to those "Sell by" scribblings on the tops and bottoms of your all-important necessities?
I guess the date on the milk in your refrigerator should get a consistent glance or two. That's not a fun mistake to run into in the middle of your peanut butter binge! I am notorious for ignoring the dates on Advil bottles, and condiments. For example, I can say with utmost sincerity, that we kept the same bottle of Italian dressing for 3 years. It went through- count them- 4 moves with us! I know, completely gross. But when I see a specific date, I also think about my own mortality. The great thing is, it's nothing I'm afraid of.

I believe in a God who promises that only our days on Earth have expiration dates. Those who believe in, trust in, and honor HIM, live forever. Not everyone pays attention to this incredible gift, and much like with overdue milk, they get hit with a life altering, chunky, sour slap; one that cannot be undone once they've expired. I take the date, and very much try to imagine where my relationship with God might be. IF that's my last day on Earth, will I still be holding true to HIM? How can I focus all the goals and intentions I have for now, and shape them into how He'll want them by then?

So, what's the importance of this? (Besides letting you all in on a tiny bit of the crazy I hold onto so desperately?) I think it's just, we all have our own expiration dates. I'm lucky enough to know and understand that it's merely my earthly expiration. I know that I will live forever... In Heaven. But, the expiration dates that we see on a daily basis pass by without thought. They come and go, and we either consume, use, or throw away our products in time, simply to save ourselves a headache. What if we paid more attention to them? Would we challenge ourselves to have some forethought? Would we second guess the lifestyle we're living?

I know we all read them at one point or another each day. I challenge you to picture yourself on that exact date.

What do you see?

1 comment:

  1. Fun post. I've often pondered the importance of the specific dates and how much they matter (and how much of it is mere suggestion). I have a bottle of Excedrin at work that expired in 2007. As far as I know they still work, bit it's funny to see the reactions of people who ask if I have any and I tell them how old they are. Probably half of the people pass, but I appreciate the risk taker.