Living without Regret

Have you ever thought about what others will say about you when you pass from this life?

Recently, I watched two funerals of prominent people who had spent their lives in public service. What was most surprising were the stories of their kindness and selflessness they exhibited throughout their careers. These were not the kind of comments usually made about these men. Many in the audience had never heard these stories of praise. Why hadn’t these words been voiced about these individuals while they were living?

Would the lives of the two dearly departed have been changed by knowing what others really thought about them? Would they have pressed harder to perform with excellence? Could they have reached higher goals from hearing how their lives impacted others? No one will know what difference it would have made in the lives of those who rarely heard this praise now that they have passed from this life.

Let me ask you a few things: Do you take the time to let someone else know how they have positively influenced you? Will you go out of your way to ask for the manager at a restaurant when you’ve been given exceptional service? When was the last time you wrote someone a note to tell them how grateful you are for them? How long has it been since you called someone on the phone just to hear their voice instead of conveniently sending a quick text? What would it take to spend the day with someone who is lonely and isolated?

Over the past few years, I’ve made it a point to connect with three people every week to keep our relationship strong. Sometimes, I send a card in the mail letting them know I’m thinking and praying for them, other times it’s an email or text. My hope is to call them and hear their voice but the best option is to sit across a table and see their lovely faces while taking in all the non-verbal communication I would otherwise miss with electronic media.

These steps take effort. Sometimes I’ve felt sorry for myself and asked why it’s always me who makes the effort to keep in touch. But that isn’t true anymore. Today, I have committed friends who will make the effort to keep in contact and ask when we can get together. They genuinely desire to know how I’m doing and follow up with things I’m struggling with. It has proven to me that deliberate efforts to stay connected with people does pay off and relationships will grow stronger because of it.

Little by little, I have been able to maintain strong ties with friends from school, work, church, and other organizations I have participated in throughout my life. It takes work to maintain relationships and all too often we lapse into letting them slip through our hands. Most often, it’s easier to not call, email or text especially when a good amount of time has passed between connections and it will take more effort to catch up. Our instant fix lifestyles of asking “Alexa” to do things for us has replaced the discipline of picking up a phone and make a call ourselves.

When the day comes that our phones stop ringing, text stop buzzing and our email box is empty we may wish we had taken those few moments to reach out to those we once called friends. Cherishing the memories, we share in this fast-paced journey of life by staying in touch could make a big difference when someone reads your Epitaph.