My effort was futile; I couldn’t stop the hot tears from pooling in my eyes. Looking down at my notepad, I hoped no one at my table noticed. Everyone else in the room had erupted in laughter, so why were tears escaping from my eyes?
The author had explained to the audience of writers why she was setting strict hours and not letting her writing spill into her personal life. “Because I have grandbabies.” she said with pride. Then she became more solemn. “Two years ago my mother-in-law died and my kids were sad,” she paused. “But they weren’t that sad. I have decided that when I die,” her demeanor lifted, “I want my grandchildren to be bawling,” she said with a chuckle. The audience joined in gentle laughter.
Indeed, had my mother, who is incredibly close to my children, not been facing incurable cancer, I would have laughed along with the rest of the group.
But I think my accompanying emotions tied me to those words. They kept replaying in my mind but instead of paralyzing me like they did the first time, I began to see the heart behind the words.
She wants to be so involved in her grandchildren’s lives that when God calls her home, her investment in them will have made a lasting impression. She intends to make that happen by purposefully giving up certain pleasures and ambitions in her own life for their sake.
I’m a pretty self-centered person. I’ve always blamed it on my only-child crutch, but now in my early 30s it’s time to own up to my self-serving nature. In recognizing this trait, I also have to recognize that living a life for my own pleasure and ambitions will leave a shortage of kingdom impressions on the people around me.
I want to leave such an impression that those around me are closer to Jesus because I showed love, made sacrifices, opened my eyes to be attentive to the little details, and put their needs above my own.
But this doesn’t happen with only good intentions. Living a life like this will require at least two things:
1. Denial of self – Jesus said that whoever wants to serve him must follow him (John 12:26) and that whoever wants to follow him must deny himself (Matthew 16:24) first. Denying myself for the sake of others isn’t natural. It isn’t my first reaction. But it is a process of progress where Jesus becomes greater and I become less (John 3:30).
2. Eyes on the bigger picture – It’s easy to think that I’ll have several more decades before God calls me home. But the truth is I might not have that long to love those around me. People come into our lives for seasons and we are separated for a myriad of reasons. The question is, how can I invest in those who are with me in this season?
I share this a bit nervously because those who do “life” with me on a regular basis know I don’t have this figured out. They could probably give more examples of times I don’t do this than the times I do. But I can understand that progress is a process, and I can start here. Today. To live my life to make a lasting impression on others. The impression of Christ.
By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35