I sat at the red light and my mind wandered aimlessly while my eyes scanned the surrounding area. My thoughts snapped to attention when I noticed a funeral procession across the street about to begin. I counted ten cars lined up and suddenly, it was as if one of my secret fears that I keep hidden away in the dark corner of my heart escaped. This might sound strange, but sometimes I think about my own funeral and wonder if anyone will even show up or what people will say about me after I’m gone.
It’s not something I dwell on but my secret fear stems from the desire I have to live a life of significance. However, my reality has not quite matched the ideal I have in my head of what this should be thus far in my life. I have (almost) raised four kids (who I hope will attend!) but I worry I haven’t left them with much worth mentioning so they’ll have to say things like, “My mom made good waffles. She made sure each square had butter and the right amount of syrup.” Or “My mom planted zinnias every spring and enjoyed walks in the woods. She really loved nature.” And another, “My mom knew every hit from the 80’s and did a really good karaoke rendition of the song, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’” or, “My mom had a terrible sweet tooth and liked to read books.”
While all those things are true, they aren’t what I want said or hope people remember about me. (If you are still with me and don’t think I’m a total wierdo…maybe it’s because you feel the same.) I believe that deep down in our human DNA, we want our lives to matter. We want to make a difference. We want to influence people and impact this world for the better, but we feel we aren’t quite measuring up to the invisible and impossible standard we’ve subconsciously set for ourselves…and that is precisely the problem.
The “standard” lies and says huge accomplishments have the biggest impact, but the truth is, a God honoring legacy of influence is left by how you make people feel…and begins in small ways at home. Adjusting my ideal to this actuality calms my fear. It reminds me that a life of significance is attainable through random acts of kindness like filling up our spouse’s gas tank or bringing home their favorite treat. It’s strung together with words of encouragement written on post it notes left on bathroom mirrors and tucked in lunch boxes. It’s built over time spent holding hands and sitting on the porch sharing our hearts over coffee. It grows with hugs and kisses, pats on the back and sincere compliments that affirm and make our loved ones feel special…treasured…cherished.
A big impact is felt in hundreds of small ways and, while I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I do hope when all is said and done, I have given my kids enough reason to say, “My mom loved us well. She loved our Dad well. She proved it in so many ways and together they gave us an example of what it looks like ‘To Love and to Cherish’ for ‘Better or Worse’ and ‘Until Death did they Part’…and that is what made a significant impact on our lives.”
“There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13