As I begin to write this, and suddenly am terrified about who may be reading my blog, I am reminded of my favorite pizza commercials growing up. It was for Tombstone pizza. I remember that it would be these people in situations where they were afraid for their life or something else like that and they would be asked “What do you want on your tombstone?” and often the reply was something ridiculous like “Pepperoni and Sausage.” for refrence:
So as we were talking in our book group today we came to the end of our time, and a friend of mine was talking about how she was a little worried about a new pastor coming into her church. As brazen as I am, I asked, “You’re paranoid aren’t you?” She said a little… Then went on to talk about how something were happening and were taking place in what she called “my building”. This hit an immediate red flag for me. This was something that I struggled with, so I called her on it (stupid stupid thing to do). I blurt out “Who’s building?” She said, “mine.” I said “Yours? Like you hold the deed?” She said, “No, the church.” I said, as stupid as i am, “It’s not your building, it’s not your Ministry… It’s God’s.” I repeated it and she broke down. I immediately regretted it. Granted, I stand behind what i said. I just wish i had a little more tact and discretion though. We went on, I apologized and headed back to the office after we talked it out. I couldn’t help but to think about myself on the way back to the office. I thought about how I struggled with possession of my life, my church, my building, my ministry, etc. I do it all the time. Still at this moment I am even thinking about how I am going to be re-painting “My youth room”. It isn’t mine. It’s God’s. I thought about my own life. I don’t know why but this question has been on my mind in the past week. “What do I want to be said of me after i am gone?” So then when this happened, of course my selfish and egotistical brain went back to me. As I was thinking about my on struggle with this, I was brought back to that question.
So before I move on with that thought I am going to say sorry again. I need to find a filter sometimes. Sorry my friend! I don’t mean to be so tactless. I just want to help.
Okay, so… back to the question. What do I want on my tombstone? What do I want people to remember me for? Despite how I arrived at this thought today, I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves. Not just when we are faced with death, but at anytime. Our own mortality usually gauges how we interact with other things in life. I mean it’s funny that people’s lives are shifted so dramatically when they are told they are dying. We are all dying though. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow. You could choke on a piece of cheese. That person can continue driving like an idiot and get into an accident. Life is short. So why not examine your life and figure out what you want people to say about you and live into that?
A few weeks ago I talked to the students about names. About how in the Bible names almost always have a great deal to do with the story and that person’s role in it. Then we talked about our names. We talked about how that has to do with our own stories. i used my own name as an example (thank you parents!). I said my name, Miguel, means “Who is like God.” I said that I wanted that to be true. I want that to be my role in the story. I want to be like God in the ways i treat people, and in my relationships. Not that I want to take control and be all holier than thou. I want to love people for who they are. I want to see them for the beautiful beings they are. I want to help people to find the greatness inside themselves. I want to be like God that way. (because I certainly don’t know what is best for people so if i were to control things it wouldn’t be good…)
When i die I want people to be sad. I know that seems silly and selfish, but it’s true. I want to touch people’s lives. I want people to say there was a good man. I want people to say “He was like God.” I want to be remembered for the love that I had for people. I want people to remember me for the love I had for God.
I had a theatre director in college. She was an amazing woman. She just exuded spirituality. I believe that if anyone had a direct line to God it was that woman. She just seemed so at peace with life, the universe, and everything. I remember there was a time that the school decided it was cutting all of the arts programs. It decided the theatre programs were non-essential to a “liberal arts” university. (that is another long rant for another day) I remember coming to a meeting where she announced that to all of us theatre students. She was strong. I could tell she had been upset and cried about it, but to us she stood resolute and calm. She reminded us that God was in control. That sometimes we need to give stuff up. God often asks us to give up things we loved, because God has something so much better for us. I believed her. I still do. She has since moved on to other schools, and is back at the university teaching theatre in a weird twist of fate.
The reason I brought her up is because I want to be like her. She once told me, “I want to be someone who when people talk about me they say she really knew God.” She did it. In my eyes she did. She showed so much love, grace, mercy, and strength than anyone else i have known. I want people to say the same things about me. I want people to come to know God better because of me. I know that sounds prideful and selfish. I feel bad for even writing it and thinking it. It is very true though. I want to be the vessel God uses. Sometimes I know that God uses me in spite of myself. Well maybe a lot of the time. Anyway, i pose this question to you now. What do you want on your tombstone? What do you want people to say about you after you are gone?