Are you "crazy busy?" Do you race from task to task without pausing for a breath and fall into bed at the end of the day worrying about what you have to do tomorrow? Are you afraid that the life that is racing past you seems to hold less and less meaningful memories and more and more stress? If so, you're not alone. I think often about how I can live a legacy, so I can leave that legacy to my children and my generations yet to come. For me that means working to do more each day that will matter for longer than this day.
My friend, Karla Dornacher and I laugh so often at how our lives perfectly track with one another even when we don't talk for a month at a time. Here's a quote from her February 12th, 2007 blog post, which I read at about 1:30 this morning because I couldn't get to sleep:
"I recently heard a speaker talk about how a common thread woven through our culture is busyness. It sometimes seems as though we wear our busyness as a crown… as though an overly full schedule validates us as a person of value in today's world. The reality is we are all busy and our lives are full… sometimes so full we forget to stop… not to smell the roses… but to love, encourage, and delight in the people God has sovereignly placed along our life path."
You can find the entire post here: karladornacher.typepad.com/karlas_korner/2007/02/this_is_cindy_t.html
This simple question that the Lord taught me to ask myself some years ago has done more to help me move along the path to living a life that matters than any other:
WILL THIS MATTER IN TWENTY YEARS? If so, do it with all your heart, if not find a way to do it quickly or perhaps not at all. When raising children, its important to clean the house, but maybe it will matter more that you took them out to play in the snow and made memories (and perhaps even scrapbooking those memories) that will be treasured for a lifetime. Perhaps it was stopping to teach them a lesson about telling the truth when they were caught in a lie, because the character that you are helping to develop in them will matter in twenty years. Perhaps it's taking time to sit with your husband at the end of the day and just talk or hang with each other, even if it means the dishwasher doesn't get loaded.
Are your kids making noise and getting under foot because they can't go outside and play — which means you can't get your list accomplished today? Will it matter in twenty years whether the laundry got folded today or tomorrow morning? Probably not… but it will matter if your children or husband feel the list is more important to you than they are.
After twenty years or so of putting this into practice, I can tell you I've discovered that relationships with family and friends and the tasks that build them will always matter in twenty years. However, any work I do to feel important, or because I just can't say no, or because I feel I "should" or feel the pressure of guilt rarely will. Also, if knowing God better and making Him more real to others is part of the task, it's always going to matter.
The most satisfying part of learning to ask myself this question has been hearing my children ask it back to me! Or hearing my daughter's boyfriend ask her, when she's stressing over some unimportant detail in her life. That's a legacy worth passing on. Try asking yourself this question the next few days and see how it changes your perspective!
1 Cor 3:12-15 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.