Is this a phrase you have heard often? It seems it is the final sentence of news stories when reporting on a famous person who has died.
I have thought often recently about this expression, “a life well lived” as we have experienced multiple funerals in a short time. Each person mattered to others. Each one, I could say, was a life well lived, though in different ways. Walking with families through this time, I feel deeply grateful for all they teach me. In each opportunity of sitting with the loved ones of one of our friends that has passed on, I understand there are so many ways to live the life we are given, well.
We may have a long life, a short life or something in between. Our culture focuses a lot of energy on the length of our life. Much less on the quality of the time we have. So many things are put into perspective when we lose someone we love.
These lessons stand out to me:
- Accomplishments are great but unless we cured cancer or prevented a war, our accomplishments often, ultimately, aren’t the most important things of our life.
- Service to others is more important than most of us think. This may be serving others in our family, or a friend, or devoting our life in a profession that serves others, or clearly living the works of mercy. Serving others seems to matter.
- Who we loved matters very much. “These things endure, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) This may be the easiest scripture to quote, but I have come to believe it may be the hardest to live and matters the most.
- It is good to care for ourselves during our life, to be healthy in body and mind. But having our priorities clear might be as important. We chase after so many things in the time we have. How we look. What we have. Power. Beauty. Achievements. I once heard a story of how sad it would be to spend our life climbing up a ladder only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.
What does your life, lived well, look like? It doesn’t matter as much how long or short a life is. It matters more how we live it, what we prioritize, who we love during it and that we make the difference only we, personally, can make in others’ lives.