What is it that, at the end of a life, defines it?
Is it milestones of grandeur? Or is it steps of disguised greatness? Is it the thunderous effect of one life on others? Or is it more like a ripple? A few months ago, my own mortality stood boldly in front of my face and it was an awkward moment at first. What do I do with this? Do I shake its hand... do I ignore and walk away? I considered the idea that I had only days left.
One day, no one will remember my name. No one will tell stories that I know. And that's just a simple fact of life. I am alright with not being a person that has revolutionized the world. I did not create the printing press. I have not solved the problems of a nation. But I have cared for the people that God has been generous enough to place in my life. And I believe I have loved them unceasingly. I have given bits of me and chunks of me and all of me into different areas. I hope that something I have said along the way has caused someone to think. To question. To smile. To hope. I have held a hand. I have cried. And really all that is worth remembering is anything I've done for the sake of someone else. Everything done on my behalf passes away. But I feel like the efforts I've poured into the life of another person can continue beyond me and beyond whatever simple action I performed.
Yet it's so easy to have a shallow perspective and to get caught up taking care of myself. In a year, will I even remember any of that? But I WILL remember how I loved. And I will remember the smile on the face of a friend and the gratefulness in the heart of someone else.
I wrote a letter earlier this year. I wrote it in a hurry before leaving on a trip I didn't think I would return from. It was an unusual feeling - one I had never felt before. But as I was writing, I felt rushed and like I didn't quite have the words to explain what I wanted those I love to know. Perhaps I'm ready now. And the essence of it boils down to one idea: I am aboundingly grateful that regardless of the poor choices I've made in my life, that God continues to pour blessing into my life. And the way He does it is through the people that have loved me.