I don’t know why I didn’t publish this blog. I remember writing it. I remember how powerful this experience was. Yet, I find myself going through my drafts and lo and behold, there it was waiting to be published. So I read it. And it is truly is impactful. It reminds me of the poem The Dash by Linda Ellis. I recommend you read that poem, and I recommend you read this blog.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and I found myself jumping out of my skin. I just wasn’t comfortable sitting at home. I needed to get out of the house, so I went on a walk.
I made my way to a nearby cemetary and found myself wandering around the various tombstones. Without any intent, I found myself reading the dates, names, quotes, and in some cases, the stories engraved on them.
It wasn’t long before I began asking myself a number of questions. “What does it mean to live a life that matters? Did the lives of these people matter? Who were they?” As I looked around the hundreds of graves, some showed the signs of family and friends who still visit them as some were decorated with flowers, toys, wreaths, and jewelry. More questions came to my mind, “What about all the graves that were seemingly abandoned? Where are their families? How about their friends? How many generations does it take before a person is long forgotten? How does one truly leave a legacy?”
Then something happened that I truly was not prepared for. I was drawn to a newer looking tombstone that was heavily decorated and was engraved with a name and included a picture I recognized. It was the gravesite for a young man that I coached in wrestling when he was only a freshman in high school. I remembered his story, for it was one that shook the community.
When I coached him, he was a troubled young man that was desperately searching for approval. By the end of the season he was tearful in his thanks towards us coaches for encouraging and believing in him. Unfortunately, that was the only year that I coached him. A few years later, around his senior year in high school, I read in the newspaper that he had committed suicide.
As I looked at his tombstone, all the past thoughts about what I could have done better, what if I had kept coaching this young man, and the like, came flooding into my mind. I was truly overwhelmed with emotion. I stood there taking in the thoughts and memories along with all the previous moment’s I’ve thought about legacy and living a life that matters and was stunned. I simply was not prepared to have such a simple stroll turn into a potentially life-altering moment.
What are you and I doing to make a difference in the lives of others? How are we living our lives? What will we be remembered for? Are we doing everything within our power to live a life that counts for something worthy? Are we maximizing our potential? Or, are we simply trying to get by? Are we living for the weekends, for a little recreation inbetween our hours and days at work? Maybe we are simply doing what we can to pay the bills, throwing in a few good works here and there, and playing when we can. Perhaps this shoe fits better. Maybe we are simply “doing pretty good” and happy with our lives that tend to be centered around ourselves. Only the individual who asks themselves these questions can truly answer them.
It is my prayer for me (and is my prayer for you as well) that my life be lived with a courage and conviction towards my God-given purpose that affects eternity. I realize that I am far, far short of this lofty endeavor, but that does not excuse me from making choices right now to move towards that end. I believe lives, marriages, relationships, and legacies hang in the balance. Choose to live a life that gives hope to others. In doing so, maybe, just maybe, you won’t come across the tombstone of someone you wish you would have had made a bigger impact on.