Saturday, July 19, 2008

Between Life's Bookends

There have been a few things in various recent events that have brought back some re-occurring thoughts of mine. Important thoughts that I should never ignore, but always examine and evaluate myself. A lot of people that I know are dealing with tragedies within their families: loss of family, news of cancer, more deployments. At the same time life is blooming. Some of it is new life and and many families I know have precious new additions to their families, while others are finding out whether the little one they are carrying inside is a boy a girl. Yet others are finding life through death--the selfless act of organ donation. Life is absolutely incredible, fragile, precious, and unpredictable. Both the heaviness of death and the celebration of life should be a reminder to us all of how we choose to live between life's bookends. From each example of life we see, for each hardship we persevere through, through each joyful moment in which we rejoice with others we learn. We are accountable for what we learn. If we learn we should love more, and yet do not, we fail. If we learn that we tend to avoid risks because of a fear of failure, and yet continue to hold back and not step out, we fail. If we learn that we should encourage and support others, and yet continue to focus on ourselves, we fail. But see, life is short. When our life here on this earth comes a close it's not whether five or a hundred people show up to honor your passing, it's about what they learned during your living and remember in your going that matters. What is your legacy? It's less the stories that others remember about you, and more the things that your life taught them. Prayerfully, I hope my life, both during and after, is an example of constant learning and growing. I'm not perfect, boy that is the truth, but what I don't want to do is make the same mistakes in life over and over again because if I do, it means I'm not learning from life. I'm not learning from those great people (and sometimes the not so great) around me. There is a lot that I'd like my legacy to be someday, and it's not all there yet. Life SHOULD be a constant growth process, and not just to make us better (that is a selfish motive) but to make those around us better. Sometimes it is the things that we do that inspire others, or things that we say to encourage others, but the bottom line is--it's our choice of what we leave. Will it be nothing? Will it be positive? Will it impact generations? Will it change lives? I want to leave a legacy.

Nichole Nordeman, a Christian songwriter and singer wrote a song that is exactly about it and is one of my favorites.
The basic lyrics are as follows, or click here to watch/listen to her YouTube of it.
I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...

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