If I Died Today...

If I died today, what in my life would really matter? Would I regret how I spent my time? Would my passing affect others in any way? 

We have all heard the Cherokee proverb: When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. 

Could I honestly say that about myself? In my small circle of family and close friends, that might be true, but of the world? Certainly not. I have not done anything outstanding. My life has not made any difference outside of my small circle. 

Yet, I do matter. As the story of the boy on the beach throwing back one starfish at a time, he might not be able to save them all, but his compassion mattered to that one he did save. If you multiply this action by those of countless others, then yes, the world feels the impact. 

So, it does matter to anyone how I live my life? Yes. It matters to me and to everyone around me. 

This week I took a closer look at how I spent my time, where my focus was. I spend too much time with things that won't matter at all if I died today. The unfinished manuscript, the unfinished painting, they won't have much impact on my family. However, the phone call to a housebound friend, the extra effort at work, and how often I tell my family I love them, that has an impact on others. Those are my contributions to the million of starfish needing rescue. 

And thus I am refocusing where I spend most of my time. So what if I'm not the perfect weight I used to be. So what if my painting will never be viewed by anyone but a few close friends and family. So what if my book never makes the Times Best Seller list. 

My prayer time, the time I spent nurturing others, the gifts of my talents to others, not for my personal gain, but for their enjoyment or uplifting, those will matter after I am gone. Those things will make a difference in someone else's life. 

Keeping my focus on how I might help another, simplifies my life, pulls me back from the frantic busyness and frantic pace I try to keep up. Sometimes sitting on the porch watching the sunset with my husband is far more important than anything else. 

Erma Bombeck said as much after she was diagnosed with cancer. She regretted not spending more time looking at sunsets, playing with her grandchildren, and just being, rather than doing. 

I am going to heed the wise words of the Cherokee proverb, and of Erma, when I decide how to spend my time. 


  1. There are times I just feel our hearts are exactly in the same place. I just finished Erma Bombeck's book and gleaned so much from her. I got up yesterday, after a full day with family, and got quiet before the Lord. I turned on How Great Thou Art and forwarded it to all my kids and asked that it be sung when I died...none responded, but I just listened and proclaimed the truth of that song
    I was pondering on all that had happened the day before and where I had used my efforts to bless my family, and how for once I felt I had left behind what I was to leave behind.
    The kitchen needed cleaning...five loads of dishes to be washed, but time with family and celebration had happened.

    Once again..thanks for taking my own heart's cry and putting it words.

  2. I never used to think about this until I was faced with a cancer diagnosis and realized there were things I would regret, I'm fine now, but it was a real wake up call. I still have the tendency to get drawn into the frenzy of day to day life...but then the Lord will remind me of how uncertain life can be...what regrets would I have.
    What you said about only effecting a small circle is true to a point....I like to think that those that I reach out to would then reach out to another, and another...kind of like a ripple effect

  3. Janette, it does seem our minds are often in tune. It sounds like a day well spent, even if not all the chores were completed. I too love the song, How Great Thou Art.

  4. Maryann, I am glad you are cancer free. That is a rude wake up call. My circle of outside contacts are dwindling as I enter the later stage of my life. I no longer have the amount of outside contact I once had. That's okay. Sometimes we are the most effective while on our knees, and that seems to be where God has placed me at the moment. Blessings to you, and the people you are blessed to be in contact with.


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