I wrote my own eulogy.
It’s inked in a small black leather notebook, all the things I could hope people might say about me at my funeral. Or at least, what I could think of.
What struck me was how none of the things I wrote down were accomplishments. I’ve spent so much of my life wanting to achieve big things, wanting to do something great, wanting to dazzle and impress and amaze. But when I sat down to think about what I could hope someone might say about me after I die, it was nothing about what I’d done. It was only about who I hope to someday become – kinder, braver, more present, more prayerful, more like Jesus.
In February, a woman from my church texted me. She’d been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and asked if I’d come to visit her each week until she died. The doctors estimated she had a handful of months left of her life here on earth. I told her the truth: I’d be honored to walk alongside her in the valley of the shadow of death.
We began meeting each week for an hour or so. First, at the hospital. Then at her home. She talked about planning her funeral. We talked about forgiveness and heaven and eternity. We talked about falling in love and she told me stories of growing up on a farm.
On a day when she wasn’t feeling well, when she was tucked in her bed, and I was in a chair beside her, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked me, “What if I missed my purpose?”
“What do you mean?” Tenderness swelled inside my heart.
“I’m worried I missed my purpose. What if I didn’t do what God wanted me to do?”
I thought for a moment. “I think our purpose is to love God and to love others in a way that shows them who God is. You’ve done that for me. I am confident you’ve done that for others. You have loved God, and you have loved others. You haven’t missed your purpose at all.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks. “No one has ever said anything like that to me before,” she whispered. Tears streamed down my cheeks, too.
As I drove home, tears still dripping, I began to cry out to God. I was thankful and sad all at once. I felt my heart expanding as I kept getting to know this woman. She was facing death, and with it, questions about life that many of us rarely find the courage to ask out loud.
As I prayed, I felt the Lord so tenderly remind me of what matters most in life: not that I become impressive, but that I love people well.
Something changes when we begin to live with the end of our lives in mind. Who might you hope to become? What might you hope someone says about you? How might you live your purpose of loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving people in a way that shows them who God is?
The more I follow Jesus, the more I begin to understand that His invitation to us is not simply behavior modification; it’s a life so intertwined with Jesus that we become like Him because of how we are with Him.
The invitation is to be with Jesus before we ever do something for Him. But how many of us do the opposite? We can spend our whole lives doing things for God and we miss out on all the ways He simply wants to be with us.
I wonder if you might write your own eulogy. I wonder if you might notice how loving someone is so much more important than becoming impressive. And I wonder if we might all take up Jesus on His invitation: to be with Him before we ever do anything for Him.