Seeing the best
Last week began and ended with a funeral.
On the Monday we said goodbye to a 93-year-old woman who had squeezed the lemon dry with a long and happy life.
On Friday we more tearfully farewelled a 56-year-old woman who died unexpectedly.
The common thread in both funerals was the eulogies.
They were heartfelt, sincere, honest and often funny accounts reflecting the love, admiration, appreciation and gratitude the family and friends held for the person.
Did they gloss over the frailties and weaknesses?
It’s sometimes said that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but it doesn’t really take a rule to stop us doing so.
Nor is it because some mysterious nostalgia filter falls into place causing the deceased to be remembered as being better than they were.
In reality I think death has a way of giving us a new perspective on what was important, what was a person’s essential character and those things which were extraneous or the result of damage and brokenness.
We live in a world where the things that constitute ‘‘news’’ are almost always the bad things.
It’s not just the ‘‘no news is good news’’ it’s ‘‘good news is not news’’.
It’s the lies, the dishonourable, the unjust, the shocking, the corrupt, the thief, the shoddy that make the news.
We fill our lives with a diet of bad news and wonder why we have a perception that everything is going down hill.
The apostle Paul encouraged his readers to concentrate on the positive.
‘‘. . . whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’’ ( Philippian 4:8)
When we think about the good and the decent, we cultivate a sense of gratitude and things begin to change in our brain.
Gratitude is what makes the glass half full.
When I mentioned this at a church meeting during the week, one of the people said it was a pity we did not get to hear our own eulogy.
It might help us to understand how people see us and encourage us to be better people.
American business management and self-development guru Stephen Covey in his best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People encouraged people to write a ‘‘living eulogy’’ for themselves as a self-development exercise.
It was part of instilling Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.
Writing a living eulogy was meant to help one focus on the positive qualities and actions they want to be remembered for.
To make the experience more vivid or real, people are asked to imagine themselves at their own funeral listening to the speeches.
Asking ourselves what would people say?
What would be the dominant themes?
Did we make the world a better place?
Did we use our gifts to help others?
Did we face our challenges with integrity and courage?
The task offers the opportunity to reflect on, challenge and change the negative aspects of our characters and lives.
It can clarify and function as a valuable road map, helping us consciously choose the paths leading to, supporting and reinforcing, the best of ourselves.
As we head into Christmas, look for the best in the people you share it with.
Yes, we all have shortcomings and are broken in many ways, but inside each of us is a child who longs to be hugged.
We are the worried who fear for the future, we are the lost who long to be found.
Christmas celebrates that Jesus is God himself, who comes to us and bids us peace.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.