At our church picnic yesterday someone said something that made me think. I was on the playground with Jackson when Steve, a fifth grader, was towering over me on the jungle gym. I playfully grabbed his shoe and he gave the appropriate response of a high pitch scream. Then as he jumped down and ran away he shouted back over his shoulder at me, "Hey! I only have one life! I have to make it matter!" He giggled and moved on.
As I stood there and watched Jackson as he played, Steve's words, however over dramatic for the situation, made me think. Am I making my life matter? Am I living it out to all that I can? I think about the people who have forever passed from my life this year. I wonder if they felt like they did all they could to make their life matter? I know that the world as a whole may not feel that these life were all that significant but I think there is much more to these lives than may at first be apparent.
I think about My friend's dad, Richard. An extraordinary life by the world's standards? Perhaps not. But in this man I always saw a love for his wife and children that was a great example. He was selfless and kind. He didn't say much but when he did it was immediately respected or incredibly funny. He made me feel important on more than one occasion. He accepted me because his daughter loved me. He was a testimony for me in how an "average Joe" can model love and concern and still be "tough".
I think of my friend Lashon. I was just reading my blog post about her funeral last night. She was only thirty-three when she died suddenly. I was overwhelmed at her funeral by the number of people who said she brightened their lives. She made such a difference through her smile. She showed her largely non-Christian realm of influence, the joy of being the bride of Christ. Were there front page headlines when she passed away.? No. Was her life full of meaning? Absolutely.
Then of course, my mind goes on to my own mother. Donna Rains was always poor. She never wrote a book. She never served in public office. She just lived a quiet life of love for her fellow man. Her mantra of, "if I have a bean, you have half a bean", was more than just a cliche phrase, it was her mission statement. She shared everything that was hers with anyone who needed it. In fact she shared with those who even just wanted it. I recall being so frustrated one time when my father's sister, who has lived a comfortable life, came to visit. She took my mom's only white sweater simply because she did not own one of her own. I am certain she owned many other sweaters in many other colors but she had to have Mom's. (Don't get me started about her living in southern Arizona and the lack of sweater need in her life). Still, my mother just let it happen. That Christmas it became my purpose to find her a new one. She never really complained. It was all just stuff to her. Her giving spirit and generosity touched so many. She may never have been a famous philanthropist, but she led a life that mattered to more people than we may ever know.
So, as I think on even just these three examples of lives that matter, I go back to a grinning little boy running off into a playground and wonder if I have lived as best I could thus far. I hope that I live up to these three examples. I was reminded yesterday that I have one life. I need to make it matter. I pray that I will.