A life well lived. It’s something that we all want, isn’t it? We want the satisfaction and joy of knowing that we loved fiercely and refused to live in fear. That we lived generously, gave of ourselves without reservation, and chose to see the best in others. That we forgave and forgot, and overall, that we let the love of God rule in our hearts and minds. In essence, we want to know that who we are and what we did mattered. That I, Tiffany, stewarded well the life I was given, and that it brought pleasure to God. Two weeks ago I got to witness that very thing—a life well lived.
It was a beautiful and tear-filled day. Over one hundred family members and friends had driven, flown, and car-pooled to be there to surprise him on his eightieth birthday. A St. Patrick’s day baby with a jolly sense of humor, he was wheeled in wearing a green t-shirt “tuxedo” and a jaunty Scottish cap. Ever the gentleman, he greeted each person by name and a hug, and insisted on taking photos with his family—six children, seventeen grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
The event passed by in a blur. There were toasts made, speeches given, cake eaten. And the most memorable moment that left all of the women in the audience “ugly crying” was the slideshow. For how do you capture eighty years of life in just a few minutes of scrolling photos? I’ll tell you how. You live a life of love.
Sure, he did impressive things. He was a pilot in the US Air Force. He flew all around the world, and visited countless countries. But those aren’t the images that stand out in my head. Instead, I see man who sacrificially loved his beloved bride for fifty years, and who was holding her hand when she drew her last breath. I see a man who has attended every single one of his grandchildren’s graduations to make sure that each grandchild knew that he or she was loved and celebrated (and when you consider how many high school, college, and graduate school graduations there are for seventeen grandchildren, it amounts to quite a lot). I see a man who continues to faithfully pastor churches in Austin and Waco, and who willing drives across states to be there to personally comfort the grieving.
And so it went. Photo after photo of him hugging a friend, cradling a new baby, or holding a grandchild on his lap. In almost every photo it was evident what mattered to him most—loving others well. And where did that great love for others come from? It came from his love for God. For he is a man who takes the Great Commandment seriously, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39, ESV)
I desire to be like this brave man, my granddad. I want to live for an audience of One, and to have the opportunity at my eightieth birthday to celebrate a life well lived—a life characterized by love.