Today one of my favorite 80’s selections came up in my iTunes shuffle, “Forever Young”by Alphaville. Yes, I still love my 80’s music. MTV was a disruptive force in the music industry, we had VJs, and dudes wore parachute pants and more hair gel than girls.
Back then, I didn’t really give much thought to the lyrics; I just loved the shadowy feel of the music and its melancholy vibe (yep… still do). But hearing the words now, they touch me in a very different way, piling on 30 years of life since college and the changed perspective that brings. One of the verses throws out the sadness of things let go, unattained:
So many adventures given up today,
So many songs we forgot to play.
So many dreams swinging out of the blue
Oh let it come true.
Then the plaintive chorus:
I want to be forever young.
Do you really want to live forever,
Forever, and ever?
In 1984 I would have answered that question with an equivocal Yes! Life was about dancing and loving and thinking that everything was still in front of me, and it all would be great. Why not live forever, bound to my earthly delights? And I had LOTS of earthly delights, many of which later only brought sorrow, and the beginnings of perspective mentioned above.
Now, when I hear this song, I can still get caught up in the music, but I hear the words differently, or rather, they pull out a different response in me. At 19, I was without God, by choice. I didn’t think much about Him or the exacting reality of “forever.” I lived moment by moment with no regret, and with no discernment for how the things I was embracing then would reflect for me years yet in the future. And so I danced on. I gave all of my soul to someone who said they would love me forever, and who less than three years into our marriage gave up on our adventures and dreams to start a new dance with someone else. Since then, there have been many, many more instances of lost dreams. But I have found new ones, and much of that—all of that—has flowed from God’s hand, once I accepted that it was me who needed to get my act together and begin discerning the reality of forever.
The truth is I don’t want to live forever. As much as I find exquisite beauty and awe-inspiring radiance in a summer beach sunset or full-out joy in a ‘Girls Night In’ with my besties (and a good cabernet), I am still seeking my best adventure yet…to be filled and fulfilled. And I know beyond doubt that it can come only in the presence of being unified to Christ, Lord and Savior, when my time with earthly things is done. That’s the adventure that I long for when, truly, there will be a great promise of forever.
For those of you who are 80’s fans, I wouldn’t leave you in the wrong way. Here’s the link to listen to Forever Young. Go ahead. Turn up the volume. Dance it out.