“When I was in college, I was a wild child.”
“My Mother-in-law and I never could see eye-to-eye on anything.”
“I traveled Europe after college and had an amazing time!”
We all do it.
We take a chunk of time, a period in our lives and reduce it to one or two sentences.
None of the sentences above apply to me. But some of mine might be:
“I was an incredible Pharisee in high school, filled with self-righteousness.”
“I lived in Japan for three years in my 20’s and had some of the best and some of the worst experiences of my life. But that time definitely shaped who I am today.”
“I taught for Charles County Public Schools for 9 years and have been on staff at South Potomac Church for the last 14 years; I loved both jobs, although both were (or are) difficult in their own way.”
One or two sentences.
And usually with some kind of descriptor attached that sums up that time, for good or for bad.
We all do it.
And there is nothing wrong with it.
It’s a way to catalogue history, especially when you are just getting to know someone or perhaps filling them in on a chapter in your life.
True confessions, this idea is not original to me. I first heard it in a sermon by Andy Stanley several years ago. But it has stuck with me. Because, while it is true that I sum up vast periods of my life in a few sentences, there is an important fact that I – that we – often fail to recognize:
We’re writing those sentences today.
The ones we will use in another decade or two to describe this season of our lives.
And, to some extent, we have control over how those sentences are written!
“When my kids were little, I was more concerned with them than I was with the state of my housekeeping.”
“When my Grandmother was in the nursing home, I made sure I took the time to go see her.”
“During the 35 years of our marriage, we fought but we made sure we never went to bed angry.”
“While I had my chemo treatments, I tried really hard to remember to praise God in the storm.”
I have very little control over the circumstances of my life.
I can be a good steward of my money and still find myself in an impossible situation.
I can take care of my body and still find it wracked with illness.
I can marry a godly man and still find that marriage is hard work because we are both sinners.
But, while I have little control over what happens to me, I have complete control over my attitude while it’s happening.
How I face those circumstances, for good or for bad.
And the choices I make – the tiny, every-day, seemingly-inconsequential choices I make by the thousands in a 24-hour period – those I can control.
I can choose the option that puts God first.
I can choose the option that puts others ahead of myself.
The one that focuses on forgiveness rather than bitterness.
The one that feeds my soul and not my temptations.
The one that says my beliefs are more than just words I spout, songs I sing, or things I hear on Sunday.
The one that controls my words. My tone. My attitude. My thoughts. My actions. My reactions.
Because every choice I make today writes the sentence for a decade from now.
But even more than that, every choice I make today reflects the sentence I long to hear more than any other. At the end of my earthly existence – whenever that may be – I want God’s one sentence summary of my life to be, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
May you and I, today, write a fabulous sentence to the glory of God. And may we do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.
So, how’s that writing going?