What you can take with you…

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote from Denzel Washington – “You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” 

It certainly reinforces the truth that one can’t take possessions with them when they die. Even the world’s richest man will be penniless when he stands before St Peter at the pearly gates or before God on his judgement day.

But, there is something that you do take with you to the grave and it doesn’t require a trailer to carry. That something is your reputation – the memories and thoughts that you leave behind with those still on earth – the impressions that you made. That reputation – the record of how you lived your life – is what St. Peter really looks at when deciding if you get through the gates and into heaven. What will your reputation say about you?

Strip away all of the business accomplishments and successes, all of the sports or academic accomplishments, all of the accumulated and prized possessions and what you have left is what was important all along – the impact that your life had on the lives of others.

Was yours a life of striving for accomplishments and reward or one of impacting other people in a positive and supportive  way. Did you receive positional respect or deference out of fear or earn the respect and love of those that you served or helped? Will the obituary in people’s minds when they hear you have passed be “so what” or maybe “good riddance” or will it be one  of fond memories and statements that “he/she will be missed”? Are you consciously striving towards goals of material success or perhaps unconsciously building a reputation as a caring and loving spouse, parent and friend?

There is no reason that one cannot be conscious of the impact that they are having on those with whom they interact. In fact, it is a good idea to put some  thought into that impact before acting.

Maybe as you start your day with as little prayer you can ask for God’s help to be more compassionate, inclusive and unbiased during the day. Ask God to help you be more aware of the needs of others and more willing to act on those needs in your actions and reactions during the day. The simple act of listening can be a powerful starting point. Taking the time to listen to others helps you be aware of he needs all around you. Taking the next step and acting to help with those needs makes a positive impression of being concerned, caring and compassionate. In addition to the Great Commandment to love one another, we were admonished in the Bible – “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

The impressions that you leave behind with the people who lives you touch is the only thing that follows you to the grave. Amassing a consistent collection of those good impressions builds a reputation.  What will be the reputation that you take with you? Will you need a U-Haul to carry all of the good impressions that people had of you? After all that is all that you can take with you.

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