I am half a century old. That fact is strange to me. I don’t feel that old, but yet my body often tells me I have reached that mile marker and much more. Reflecting back, I consider the question: what have I done in my fifty years? As if life is all about what a person accomplishes. But isn’t it more than that?
Growing up a farmer’s daughter makes me think of the analogy of planting seeds, tending the fruit of one’s labor, and harvesting the produce. What seeds have I planted in these five decades? I’d like to think I have sprinkled grace, kindness, encouragement, faith, and love in the soil of other’s lives. I wish to leave a harvest of good things behind me when I’m gone. Even if I pass out of memory in the future generations, I hope I will live on because those seeds will continue to grow and bloom in the lives of others far past my lifetime. Those things never have an expiration date. I take comfort in that—leaving something good in the trail of my brief, vaporous existence on this Earth.
Two tintype pictures rest on my bookshelves of people no one in my husband’s family remembers anymore. It saddens me to know these lives have been forgotten. Who were they? What was their story? I guess I’ll never know, but I like to believe the seeds they have sown in their lifetime pass on in a perennial cycle. As I hope mine will.
However, the idea of only leaving good things in our wake is fantasy. We also influence those who come after us with our failings. Our sins. But God. Because of His working in my life I can, hopefully, transfer more good than not, for He is goodness itself, and His Spirit is in me. None of us have any goodness apart from Him. And if we believe we do and reflect that goodness, it’s only because we are made in His image. I pray that my shortcomings will not take root in the lives of those to come. I hold to the promise that God will bless my children and their children for many generations because I’ve chosen to honor and love Him.
Still, with my declining health, the direction of my life often appears to me like a downward spiral staircase, rather than an upward one, in which I gradually lose everything, but I know that’s not true. It’s a lie. I will never lose His love or the things He has grown in my life. You might ask—how can I believe in God’s goodness and love in a life lived with the debilitating disease of MS? Because I have faith that He can bring purpose and meaning to what I cannot.
In my ponderings this month, I’ve come to the conclusion that this life is not about our monetary or personal achievements but about the way our lives have touched others and about our relationship with God. When we die I believe the only things we can take with us are hope, faith and love, and really the only lasting things we can leave behind.
Here’s to fifty years, to what we leave behind, and bravely trusting God for the future.