Yesterday I spoke at a funeral. The entire thing lasted about 45 minutes. The family then traveled to finish the proceedings with another pastor performing a graveside service. I am guessing that it lasted about 15 minutes. All total, a life of 61 years was summarized in about an hour-long service with a nicely written obituary and a slide show of family pictures.
Whenever I am part of a funeral, my mind cannot help but turn to reflection on my own journey. My entire life, and yours too, will be captured in a few brief words from a pastor and some people who cared about us. Since that is true, I wonder what they will say?
Most of these summaries have four aspects to them:
- Their Relationships. This person was a spouse, parent, child, sibling, and friend.
- Their Passions. What did this person enjoy the most in life? Where did they spend their time and find the happiness they pursued?
- Their Personal Stories. This is what happened that helped me to know and love this person who is now gone.
- Their Faith. What we believe means more at the end as we step into eternity.
That is it. People rarely talk about the cars or houses they owned. There are very few references to vacations. I have never heard anyone mention the movies or TV shows they watched. The few exceptions are those who had a real passion for something that falls into one of the four categories, like the lady who saved her whole life to take her sister to New York for a week of fun.
Most of what gets said are quiet moments of seemingly insignificant interactions. There was the way he crawled into bed at night and told stories about his childhood to his kids. People speak of the way she would stop and talk to you about yourself. She never spoke of her needs but was always concerned about others. The stories of selfless service, loving sacrifices, and valuing others fill the air with fond remembrance.
If this is true, then we must be continually reevaluating to make sure we are giving our lives to things that will matter after we are gone. Are we connected to others in meaningful ways? Do our passions align with our goals for life? Is our story touching the lives of others in a positive way? Are we prepared for the final day of our life?
Be assured, one day, your life and mine will get one hour of people’s time. They will take all you have done and boil it down into a few little nuggets of goodness. Be sure they have plenty of things from which to choose. If not, you can start changing today what people will say on that day.