President Barack Obama commands a military of 1,430,000 active personnel, with 850,880 in reserve. The U.S. government spends $3.5 trillion a year and employs 2.1 million people. The president has dealt with an economic recession, war in Iraq and chemical weapons in Syria, Russian incursions into Eastern Europe, health care reform, and a host of other political challenges.
What does he consider his greatest personal regret?
Last month, he was asked this question by a group of university students. His answer: “I regret not having spent more time with my mother. Because she died early—she got cancer right around when she was my age, actually, she was just a year older than I am now—she died. It happened very fast, in about six months.” Anne Dunham died from ovarian cancer in 1995, just 22 days before her 53rd birthday.
Mr. Obama continued: “There was a stretch of time from when I was, let’s say, 20 until I was 30, where I was so busy with my own life that I didn’t always reach out and communicate with her and ask her how she was doing and tell her about things. I was nice and I’d call and write once in a while. But this goes to what I was saying earlier about what you remember in the end is the people you love. I realized that I didn’t—every single day, or at least more often—just spend time with her and find out what she was thinking and what she was doing, because she had been such an important part of my life.”
Consider for a moment the president’s statement: “what you remember in the end is the people you love.” Has this been true for you?
Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently asked adults to describe their most memorable regret. The most common answer involved romance, a story of a missed love. The second most common involved family issues—a family fight or having been unkind to a sibling as a child. Education, career, money and health issues were much further down the list.
My greatest regret is similar. My father died when I was a senior in college. He missed our wedding and the birth of our sons. I think about him so often—he would have been such a proud grandfather. I cherish every moment we spent together, and wish I had spent more time with him. Though my mother lived to be 80, I still wish for more time with her as well.
Mother’s Day is not just an annual holiday. It’s also an invitation to invest your most valuable commodity—time, where it yields the greatest return—with those you love. Jesus’ “new commandment” was clear: “love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
Have you asked Jesus to give you his love for those you love today?