Are You Living an Abridged Life?

I had several reasons for naming this blog “Living, Unabridged”. I liked the various meanings I could give the phrase.

As I pause and reflect on a new year with all its new opportunities and chances and decisions yet to be made, I thought I’d ask:

Are you living an abridged life?

are you living an abridged lifeYou know what abridged books are, right?

They might be books trimmed for length or difficulty. It could be a story re-written for a different audience from the one first intended (for instance the “Great Illustrated Classics” or “Classic Start” type books).

The abridged books that come most readily to my mind are the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books you can find in most any thrift store (or tag sale) across the U.S.

How can life possibly compare to these clunky, mostly unloved books?

An Abridged Life is One Where You Never Focus on the Present

You may be abridging your life if you’re anxious to get from one thing to the next. One activity to another. Or one stage of life to another.

It could mean spending your child’s toddler days wishing they were older. Or dealing with a sassy tween and wishing she would just GROW UP ALREADY (while also lamenting that she’s not the adorable, squeezable baby that she was for about 5 seconds).

It could mean not stopping to savor the little joys of each day. Maybe you’re focused on some standard of success that is jusssst out of reach. You got a promotion at work, but instead of being grateful, you just push on to the next thing.

Drive is not necessarily a bad thing, but when we fail to appreciate the good and beautiful moments in our lives, we’re living an abridged version.

An Abridged Life is One Where You Care Most About Appearances

Back in the day (and by “in the day” I mean the late ’90s, early 2000’s) I liked to watch decorating shows. I loved Trading Spaces. Design on a Dime was my jam. I watched Debbie Travis paint and repaint walls (for real).

Anyway, if you watched “decorating” shows back then, especially those focused on frugality, you might have heard this type of advice: don’t leave those shelves bare, fill them up with matched books from the thrift store. The Readers’ Digest Condensed Books were a popular target for this type of decor. (As were old editions of Encyclopedia Britannica and the like).

Did the people in these houses actually read those books?

Doubtful.

They were just there for show (although we could debate how attractive they are / were).

We can do this with our lives, too.

Do you care more about what you look like on the outside than what’s going on inside?

That’s abridged living.

An Abridged Life is One Where You Don’t Tell Your Story

What’s my real problem with abridged or condensed books? They’re not the real story.

In abridged books, the author’s vision is blunted or dulled. The rhythm is off.

Now, here’s the thing: with the exception of a spouse, probably no one needs to know 100% of your story. There are chapters and moments that are not for public consumption. Not every experience and thought is meant to be shared, and certainly not with everyone.

But are you telling as much of your story as you can? Have you shared some of the difficult chapters with people who care about you and will pray for you, help you, and encourage you?

Discretion and wisdom are key here.

I wouldn’t hand Les Miserables to my six year old to read, even if she could, technically, understand the words. Her heart is not ready for the depth and honesty in that book.

By the same token, though, I’m not giving her a simplified version of that story (although I admit all of my kids have heard most or all of the musical!). Some day she will be able and ready to read this deep, sometimes difficult work, and appreciate it.

This is the real reason I, as a general rule, don’t have my children read simplified or children’s versions of classic novels. When they are ready for the real thing, they get the real thing.

Anyway, I know I’m stretching a metaphor here.

I’m an Introvert. Privacy is important to me. My boundaries are probably a little higher and a little wider than they, strictly speaking, have to be.

But I have been learning to share my story, even some difficult chapters that I don’t completely understand, with people I trust. Some chapters are shared with friends (not always the same chapters to the same people). More may be shared with siblings, children, or close family who are long time characters in my story. A few chapters are shared only with my husband.

I don’t want to come to the end of my life, whenever that might be, with untold stories that could have been shared. Maybe someone else needs to know about things I’ve dealt with or gone through because they’re going to face that too. Sometimes I think I need to share part of my story just to show that I’m willing to trust God with the aftereffects, because I can’t control how someone else handles my story, or replies to it.

I don’t want to live an abridged life.

How about you – are you living unabridged? What does living an unabridged life mean to you?

*all images courtesy of Unsplash*

living an unabridged life

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Comments

  1. David Pitman says

    Excellent vision and value!