A couple days ago, I went to a friend’s funeral visitation. She was a special lady that I met over 11 years ago where we attended the same local church. Always kind, with a loving embrace and smiling eyes, Pam never let you leave her presence feeling unwanted. She was an enthusiastic supporter of mine way before I deserved the confidence she placed in me as a leader and unfailingly offered her time and talent to support the student ministry that I was tasked with directing.
I remember how much she cared for all of the young adults in our group and how much they loved her. There were so many nights when she and her husband hosted us at their house and shared their lives with us in such an authentic and caring way. You see, she was a rare person who understood the value of always being true to who she was even though we were steeped in an environment that rewarded posers.
She was adventurous, talkative, nurturing, generous, and had a signature laugh that made you want to laugh along even if you didn’t hear the punchline. She gave her life helping others succeed as a teacher and role model for children. But life did not return the favor as her body was taken from her by a ravaging brain cancer that was detected much too late and took her life just seven days from its discovery.
Seven days. Even as I’m writing this now, I’m tearing up…thinking about how devastating and unrelenting our mortality can be.
Funerals have a way of making our minds wander into places we don’t normally want them to go. Seeing the faces of her family members that were trying their best to keep it together in the face of such a shocking loss kept me thinking about how uneasy we all are with death.
Our culture celebrates violence, but resists the reality of death.
Our culture celebrates violence, but resists the reality of death. The truth is, Pam wasn’t afraid of death because she lived her life for others every single day. She poured herself out in service to the world around her always working to bring justice to an unrighteousness world.
I wonder how many of us are ready to die? Have we lived our lives with passion? Have we loved with our actions? Have we led a life worth following?
As a culture, we talk a lot about the afterlife, the other side, heaven, and the paradise of a place no one has ever really seen as though these promises of an unknowable, future, “spiritual” existence should bring us peace in the face of so much pain. But real peace only comes in the life that we lived. Pam knew this and so should we.
What good is it to constantly be looking forward to helping others, but never accomplishing it? What good is it to say we love someone, but never show it? What will be said of us when we die if we keep all our potential for changing the world of those around us hidden because we’re too scared of being hurt?
The loss of a woman whose life showed so much love hurts. But the loss of a person who dies with all their potential inside them hurts more.
Afterlife or not, Pam’s legacy will live on in the hearts of those she loved. Because she knew as should we all that love only grows when it is sown into the lives of others.
Love only grows when it is sown into the lives of others.
Imagine what good we could all accomplish if today, instead of thinking about how much we love others we showed it with our actions. Imagine the person who’s having a rough day being changed by the kind words you spoke to them, or the cashier whose line is backed up and day was made by the grace you gave them when it was your turn in line, or your children’s faces lighting up when you give them that big hug.
Love is a verb. It is an action. And it must find an outlet through you in order to bring smiles to the faces of the people around you.
That’s what I learned from my friend Pam.
Do you have a story of a person in your life that is no longer with us but lives on in the legacy of love they sowed into your heart? Please share it with us in the comments section below.