Last Sunday my Pastor spoke about Love and how it matters more than anything else. It reminded me of something that happened a year ago, an experience that made me look at what I had made a priority in my life – and it wasn’t love. So I looked back through my blog posts to find what I had written at the end of 2012, because I wanted to share it again.
On my final flight home from Uganda, the small plane I was on encountered a sudden storm of epic proportions. Snow and ice flew sideways and as I looked out my window it was like viewing the whiteout of a TV screen. The pilot tried changing altitude, but rising higher made no difference. The plane tossed violently as if Godzilla had grabbed us in the air and was shaking vigorously.
Some passengers screamed, others prayed aloud, but most were silent, with the exception of the drunken man in the back of the plane who whooped and hollered with each dip.
I sat alone at the front of the plane, frozen with fear. I heard the pilots on the radio, and watched the strapped in stewards sitting white-faced and white knuckled.
Eyes wide open, I prayed silently to God. “Didn’t I do everything you asked..?” As if that somehow made me exempt from harm.
As I waited, I heard Him quietly say, “Will you trust me even with this?”
A silent “Yes” came from a place so deep inside, I didn’t know it existed, and as I accepted that this would be how I would die, a peace washed over me.
I was calm, but I felt such sadness that I would never see my family again. I had put too many things that really didn’t matter ahead of my love for them. Instead, I focused too much on the doing, yet hadn’t cherished time spent doing little more than loving them.
I felt regret that I had spent my life looking for success through accomplishment and letters behind my name, not recognizing how pointless that was. Instead of small, every day acts of kindness, I had based my worth on what I could achieve; on experiences that would build a resume, not a life.
When I think back now, I wonder if the flight home was more important than the all time I spent in Uganda doing “good works.” Because I did make it home – but I was not the same woman who had boarded that plane.
That experience taught me where my priorities needed to be. It made me ask – What will my legacy be? How will the people I love remember me? Will the world be any different because I lived?
I realised that if we want to make a difference in this world, we must start at home, loving the people who love us in spite of how well they know us. I learned that love is a promise, a commitment. Love is a behavior, not a feeling. As my brother told me years ago, “Love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do, even when you don’t feel like it.”
The passion to make great changes in our world is commendable, but it is our small, often unnoticed actions that truly make a difference.
My excuses about being too tired, or too old or not qualified, will not work under this measure of achievement –
Achievement measured by how I live and love each day;
Accomplishment defined as how well I love others with no promise of getting anything in return;
Success based on how I face tomorrow after the heartbreak of today. For if we are willing to live from a heart that has been reborn, to love the way God has commanded us to, chances are there will be wounds.
We must ask ourselves – Have I spoken the words today that matter most…? I love you. Thank You. I’m Sorry. Forgive me… in the end, that’s all that’s really left to say.
There is no formal training or credentialing in how to live a life well-loved. But there are also no age limits, no size requirement, and no special qualifications required. All that is needed is a heart willing to love as Jesus did.
Don’t let the fear of possible heartbreak keep you from loving completely. Don’t hold back, don’t keep silent. For there are no guarantees that we have tomorrow.
So love big. Love recklessly. In the end, it is the only kind of life that will matter.
Live a Life That Matters
By Michael Josephson
Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant –
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance, but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.