We’ve talked over the last year or so via this blog about the importance of getting your affairs in order including your personal funeral plan. Determining funeral costs, funeral expenses, and general funeral needs are important and making sure that ensuring the presentation both by the funeral clergy and by the eulogy writer are also important in leaving the memory of you for your loved ones in a tasteful and memorable way. Your loved ones will look back often at the memory of your last rights as they think back about what you mean to them.
But there is one other aspect of the memories that you leave behind that are so much more important than the presentation that represented you. It’s the reality of how you lived your life before you died, because those precious memories of the “real” you, witnessed by family and friends in the flesh, that really drive your legacy for the living. For this reason, it is very important that you evaluate yourself honestly and use what you learn from this exercise to guide the remainder of your life. It is never too late to change the way you are for the better, after all, as Jesus taught us we are all sinners no matter how hard we try for perfection.
So how do you go about this self-evaluation? Well, there are many ways, but might I suggest a few questions as a starting point. These are questions that we can apply to ourselves under any circumstances and they will open you up to many more questions. Believe me, there is probably no limit to the number of questions that this first set of questions opens, and that is one of the most important features of self-evaluation. It should be ongoing and regularly used as a refresher course to insure you are sticking with it throughout your life. As mentioned earlier, it is never too late to change our course for the better.
Here are some questions and a little guidance to get you started:
1. Are you at peace with yourself and do you have love in your heart? Now since I am a Christian, I think you probably know where I am headed with this but, even if you aren’t, peace and love are two wonderful terms to describe how we should focus our lives. If we are caught up in envy or hate we spend our time wasting our energy while also accomplishing nothing positive in life. For life to be meaningful you need peace and love, and by love I mean love of all of mankind, those who are friend and foe alike. This is truly critical if we are going to serve as an example to others of good living and what is expected of all of us. If you don’t feel this way, take a good inward look and determine what it will take to get rid of the hate, jealousy or whatever else keeps you from being happy.
2. If married, do you and your wife (or husband) consider yourself to be as one? While those of you who have never married might not understand the point here, it is a simple one. When you make a commitment to a spouse through Holy Matrimony, you are saying that you are each a part of the other. You are a team in life and you work in tandem, not keeping secrets from one another and enjoying the time, the joy and the counsel that you receive from one another. If you don’t look at your marriage this way, you are missing something precious and wonderful. And even if you are not married, I think the idea of this commitment is indicative of how you should approach your life as well.
3. What about your children? So what do your children really think about you? Do you spend time with them and encourage their schoolwork and their extra interests or are you overly demanding and hard hearted? Children need nurture and encouragement to do their best, but they also need rules to live by and consequences for their actions. And since there is no text book to follow, it is a work in progress. If you are too rough on them, they don’t like but if you are too soft, you are not helping them to learn about how life operates. Take time to clearly think about these things and how you respond.
4. When you make commitments to others, do you honor them and follow through? Many of the same type of thought processes as discussed above also apply here but in a different context. Be a person of your word and honor your commitments. Just like promising a child a baseball game, if cancelled, is a huge disappointment, the impact here can be losing your good name as an honest and reliable person. You can lose your reputation in mere moments but rebuilding it can take a lifetime. Don’t take this lightly.
5. Do you feel that the successes you have had in life have come honestly? Deep down inside you know what you had to do to get where you are. Was it based on good moral values and principles or did you allow things to slide? Did you justify your shortfall as being a means to the end and nothing more? This one can lead into a very insightful but also painful process or recollection, but if it does it means it is needed.
6. Are there things in your life that you feel ashamed of and have you tried to mend the errors of your ways? Here you are looking for those things that you consciously know you have done in the past that were wrong and that continue to bother you. Probably first and foremost as a result should be coming clean with your God on this one. He will forgive you and allow you to forgive yourself and, where possible, try to make amends with the person you hurt. It’s tough, I know, but you’ll be surprised at how accepting people are when they know you are sincere.
7. What do you expect to be your future when this life is done? Here’s where you look at your future and whether or not you believe in salvation and continued life in another place. If you believe, as I do, that God awaits those who love Him, it is easy to identify with what you generally expect. If you don’t believe this, ponder it for a while. I mean, really, what was the purpose of your life on earth, with all of its trials and tribulation as well as its joys if there is a vast nothingness when it ends. I just have problems grasping with that possibility.
As suggested, these are just a few questions to get your thinking going. They merely serve to open the door to your heart and your soul. But they do hopefully make you focus on your life and how it has impacted others and what that means for your legacy when your time is over. The entire point is to sit down, candidly look at yourself privately and by yourself, and come to an honest assessment of your life so far. You can use it to make any changes necessary to help you take your human self in the direction it needs to go.
Open your heart and your soul and really take the time to look inside yourself. The reality of the real you as you have been and as you would like to be will surface if you give it a chance. Won’t it be nice to continue your personal growth into being and living that person you want to be. Trust me, it will be good for you and it will make your family love you even more.
God bless you and have another wonderful week. Spring is here in its full glory and it offers us a wonderful sign of the New Life that we all have available to us. Let’s take advantage of it.
Book site: www.amazon.com/author/jamesdick
Author of Honey, We Shoulda’ Bought the Ark, selected a 2014 Best Read by American Pet Magazine