There are all kinds of way to measure a life. There is the measure of our success in terms of achievement: degrees, job titles, and not least, wealth. We’d be forced to admit that achievement is so often the world’s gold standard for living life well.
It’s not our usual impulse to celebrate those who’ve spent their days working in the shadows of obscurity to love others. Love demands the invisible efforts of self-giving. To love is to serve others, to listen to their stories, and to celebrate their scripts. To love is to overcome the habits of self-focus. And that is work.
I’m sitting in the Chicago airport now, musing on the weekend I’ve spent celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday. Friends and family from different seasons of her life gathered on Friday to throw her a surprise birthday and to celebrate her life.
And what we celebrated most was her love.
She may have wondered, in these last years that have evaporated with the exhaustion of raising little children, was has been accomplished in the days that have blurred together with dishes and laundry, puzzles and carpool.
But she had her answer as we toasted and made tributes to her life of love. She has taught us to love ourselves. She has inspired our deeper love for God. And through her example of patient forbearing love, we have each been made more capable for the loving that has been required of us in our own individual callings.
If you have loved well, you have lived well.
I take this into the months ahead that promise to hustle. I’ve got a book proposal to revise and resend. I’ve got a 31-day devotional to write for Moody. And we’re moving in less than three weeks into another house.
But lest I think this upcoming season is exceptional, I’m reminded that life will always have its bottomless demands.
We don’t get to wait to love until life slows down.
We have to learn to love, even when we’re running at breakneck speed.
And as we love, we accomplish the invisible much.